Category Archives: Literature

The Road to Reopening. Artists and audiences on returning to physical venues.

Geinor Styles, Artistic Director, Theatr na nÓg

With the roll out of the Covid-19 vacancies, the arts sector is hopeful audiences will return to venues. If venues want to attract audiences, what do you think they should do?

Put on shows. There is a spanner in the wheel called R & D. It’s like an insurance policy against bad theatre, but all it does is clog up the system, and nothing gets produced in fear of it not succeeding. Companies funded as part of RFA have a track record of creating great work, and there should be a level of confidence in those companies to do that.  The development of new writing or a seed of an idea is different, but still, there should be places for that work to be seen and tried out; otherwise, there will be nothing on our stages. No product, no audience, no data to be collected for future strategies. Invest in the art.

Which venue has a special place in your heart and why? 

There are so many in Wales to mention. Places like The Muni, The Gwyn Hall and the Met, these venues had the nerve and the guts to produce two productions of ours that then toured No1 venues in the UK. But also, how the entire staff bought-into being part of the production from the box office staff to the people working in the café, to those that made sure the venues were clean and safe and comfortable places for people to enjoy a good night out. They felt pride in being part of something exciting, which brought in audiences. I will always be grateful for their generosity and humour in making those shows a success.

Our current collaborations with our Consortiwm Partners Soar in Merthyr; The Welfare in Ystradgynlais and The Town Hall in Maesteg, are perfect examples of venues at the heart of their communities, their knowledge of their audiences are intrinsic to a successful thriving theatre culture.

Our co-production partnership with Aberystwyth Arts Centre is joyful. We have been in discussions and pre-production for Operation Julie since 2017, and when it does finally get to the stage next summer will be one of the most thrilling experiences I have had in co-producing a show.

Aberystwyth Arts Centre

The National Youth Theatre on Great Britain planned to produce The Masters House on the 14 -17 July. On the 10 July they announced that due to Covid-19 isolation requirements they have had to cancel the performance. One of the plays directors Chris Sonnex tweeted in response.

“We can’t forget it’s also a reminder of the incompetence of this government, Johnson acted too late over & over, the people in charge hired their incompetent friends & they’re systematically letting down the arts. The disregard they give artists and theatre is because they are scared of the power we have, the opposition we send, the empathy we encourage. We weren’t working with young people, we were working with artists and activists, who will not forget this governments shit. I don’t want to hear anyone chatting about talking Tory or being apolitical. I want you all to hold these incompetent pricks to account. They’re letting your parents down, you are down and the younger generation down. Artist must revolt. Create. Revolt and fight.”

Is Chris correct?

Yes. In recent meetings with young creatives – that is very much what they want to say. Our responsibility is to support them in saying that. To make a change.

In response to Covid-19 Many theatres and arts organisations have developed work to be performed outside. Have you seen any work created in this way and can you see audiences having an appetite for it to continue?

Yes, Theatr na nÓg and Theatr Brycheiniog were involved in a test event for Welsh Government. Although our experience of outdoor theatre is minimal, it was joyous and a great way to be back in the world of producing and performing live.

I think it is a way forward to keep theatre in the public eye in this weird world. However, as we know, it is so weather dependent, and I think the consequences of the climate crisis make it impossible to predict any dry season with certainty. A discussion is needed on insurance, especially for smaller companies and venues with so much more at risk of cancelling performances—also, a dialogue between local authorities, companies and venues to have a consistent message on rules and regulations.

Prior to Lockdown many venues did not stream any pre-recorded or live performances should they continue to do so and if so, how can they do this without harming their physical performance offer?

Needs must. However, it is not theatre. It is not a shared experience. Without the incredible investment needed in creating quality digital productions that you can monetize effectively, it will be the death knell of live performance. Obviously, as an added resource that sits alongside a show for audiences to access, it is and has been of benefit for us to widen our reach and to get our work seen not only in South Wales but all over the world. But, engagement, real engagement is vital.  Never underestimate the power and impact of live theatre.

Chris Sonnex, Director

With the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccines, the arts sector is hopeful audiences will return to venues. If venues want to attract audiences, what do you think they should do?

Be better, don’t bet on what you think is a sure bet. Innovate, listen to people, stand up for people, make something exciting. Remind people what they were missing out on all this time, I don’t need to see Romeo and Juliet again, and if I did I could watch it on streaming services, give me something else. STOP MAKING ALL WHITE PRODUCTIONS, HIRE ARTISTS OFFSTAGE AND ONSTAGE FROM THE GLOBAL MAJORITY

Which venue has a special place in your heart and why? 

The Royal Court, if it wasn’t for that family led by Vicky Featherstone, I wouldn’t be where I am now, wouldn’t have a career, wouldn’t have learnt all the things I know now. Also the upstairs space is the best theatre in London, changes every damn time.

The National Youth Theatre on Great Britain planned to produce The Masters House on the 14 -17 July. On the 10 July they announced that due to Covid-19 isolation requirements they have had to cancel the performance. Yiu wer to Direct this production and tweeted in response.

“We can’t forget it’s also a reminder of the incompetence of this government, Johnson acted too late over & over, the people in charge hired their incompetent friends & they’re systematically letting down the arts. The disregard they give artists and theatre is because they are scared of the power we have, the opposition we send, the empathy we encourage. We weren’t working with young people, we were working with artists and activists, who will not forget this governments shit. I don’t want to hear anyone chatting about talking Tory or being apolitical. I want you all to hold these incompetent pricks to account. They’re letting your parents down, you are down and the younger generation down. Artist must revolt. Create. Revolt and fight.”

Are you correct?

Yes. Yes I am. Some people might not think I am. And that’s fine. Because that’s a democracy. You know what a democracy isn’t, putting in bills that silence journalists, stifle, and ban protests, decimate the arts education, lets poor people starve to death, tries to destroy the national health service, and sells everything that’s publicly funded off. That’s closer to fascism. So, you might not agree with me, but that’s a right you currently have. If you don’t fight this government, in years to come you might not have that right anymore.

In response to Covid-19 Many theatres and arts organisations have developed work to be performed outside. Have you seen any work created in this way and can you see audiences having an appetite for it to continue?

Theatres more than four walls, it’s a movement, its art that cant be contained (at the best of times). Arts organisations, especially people that deal with community and youth work, have been utilising outside work for years. Audiences have an appetite; it’s been there forever. It’s not new. It is bringing theatre to the people. Long may it continue, but let’s not forget the wonderful organisations and individuals that have been doing that forever.

Prior to Lockdown many venues did not stream any pre-recorded or live performances should they continue to do so and if so, how can they do this without harming their physical performance offer?

Don’t let the necessity and the medium dictate the work you make. If it’s just to make sure your relevant and to be seen like you’re doing something, then we don’t need that. If its interrogating the art, if its pushing the art form, keep doing it. Having said that Zoom shows aren’t my cup of tea, and a static shot of a theatre space bores me, (filming theatre reminds me that I don’t have a choice over where my gaze is, that you’re telling me where to look, not earning it. Which annoys me somewhat.) However I will say, the scope and reach that you can get when you do it well, is spectacular, there’s a real diversification of who you are reaching, it means people that can’t leave their house for whatever reason can see it, that people that can’t afford nights out can see it, that people not based in the city or town that its put on can watch it. That’s great. That audience deserve that you give them something really good, so don’t half ass it.

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Louise Miles Payne, Director, Creu Cymru

With the roll out of the Covid-19 vacancies, the arts sector is hopeful audiences will return to venues. If venues want to attract audiences, what do you think they should do?

I think the main thing is to make sure that audiences feel comfortable and know that venues are doing all they can do keep people safe.

  • Enhanced cleaning.
  • Hand-sanitiser stations.
  • Wearing of face coverings.
  • Modified routes around the buildings to avoid overcrowding.
  • Possible contactless ticketing, possible staggered arrival times and security checks.
  • Restricted stage-door activities post-show.
  • Some socially distance performances may still be available (where possible).
  • Staff and performers will take part in lateral flow testing.
  • Audiences will be encouraged to do their own lateral flow tests prior to attending.
  • Audiences should not attend if they have any Covid-19 symptoms or have been asked to self-isolate by Track, Trace and Protect.
  • Refunds will be available to patrons not able to attend for these reasons.
  • Audiences recommended to bring minimal possessions.

We really want to see audiences back in our venues. Some have already reopened with live performance and cinema with limited capacity and are a great example of how it can be done safely.

Which venue has a special place in your heart and why? 

That’s tough one as the majority of venues in Wales are Creu Cymru members so I wouldn’t want to favour any one place! I’ll cheat and choose a non-member. Parc Hall in Cwmparc, just outside of Treorchy in the Rhondda. This was the first venue I worked in after University and I did everything from book the shows, box office, technical, marketing and teaching drama classes! It’s a beautiful example of a miners hall and was just a joy to be at.

Parc Hall

The National Youth Theatre on Great Britain planned to produce The Masters House on the 14 -17 July. On the 10 July they announced that due to Covid-19 isolation requirements they have had to cancel the performance. One of the plays directors Chris Sonnex tweeted in response.

“We can’t forget it’s also a reminder of the incompetence of this government, Johnson acted too late over & over, the people in charge hired their incompetent friends & they’re systematically letting down the arts. The disregard they give artists and theatre is because they are scared of the power we have, the opposition we send, the empathy we encourage. We weren’t working with young people, we were working with artists and activists, who will not forget this governments shit. I don’t want to hear anyone chatting about talking Tory or being apolitical. I want you all to hold these incompetent pricks to account. They’re letting your parents down, you are down and the younger generation down. Artist must revolt. Create. Revolt and fight.”

Is Chris correct?

Probably. I’m slightly sick of hearing terms like ‘non-essential’ and ‘unskilled’ when it comes to the arts. I’m sure people have been enjoying lots of TV, streaming services, books, online events etc over the last few months. These were all made by highly skilled people who deserve respect. Either that or just turn everything off. No TV, no streaming, no You Tube, no radio. See how they like it then.

In response to Covid-19 Many theatres and arts organisations have developed work to be performed outside. Have you seen any work created in this way and can you see audiences having an appetite for it to continue?

Until recently I was lucky enough to live near Chapter so I went to see both the Theatr Iolo shows there last year (Baby, Bird and Bee and Hoof) and it was fantastic to see live theatre again. There is a fantastic history of outdoor theatre in Wales so I see no reason why it shouldn’t build and continue after the pandemic.

Chapter Arts Centre.

Prior to Lockdown many venues did not stream any pre-recorded or live performances should they continue to do so and if so, how can they do this without harming their physical performance offer?

The upside to streaming has been the accessibility of it all. Audience members who may not have been able to attend in person have been able to watch and experience performances normally out of reach. I know that there is a call to try and continue with some kind of hybrid but I just worry about this might work. Personally, I’ve enjoyed the live stream performances made especially for online such as Daniel Kitson performing live on stage at the Torch Theatre in Milford Haven or Sherman Theatres ‘Merthyr Stigmatist’, over the ones that just broadcast a live show. Watching some of the NT Live shows at the start of the pandemic just made me think about what I was missing. Although not paying the ticket fee and travel costs were a massive bonus.

Daniel Kitson

A mix is probably the answer but a smarter way of doing both would be great.

Viv Goodman, Performing Arts Lecturer, Coleg Gwent

With the roll out of the Covid-19 vacancies, the arts sector is hopeful audiences will return to venues. If venues want to attract audiences, what do you think they should do?

Looking at this purely through the lens of drama education, venues have been a key issue for Performing Arts courses throughout the pandemic. When the prospect of face-to -face learning returned there were considerable restrictions over the number of students who could be in our rehearsal rooms at any one time and -with around 100 students across four different courses at Coleg Gwent -this was very difficult to accommodate in a practical way that was meaningful and workable. The real turning point came when we were offered financial support from Welsh Government that would enable us to hire venues off campus so that all our students could re-commence practical work safely. At that point I was working with our USW degree students on Tracy Harris’ play ‘Ripples’ , which had been written for the final year BA hons and Masters degree students at RWCMD in 2020.

Having spent the entire rehearsal period remotely, with students auditioning for Tracy online and working with original cast members Shannen McNeice and Mark Henry Davies over Teams, we were then able to hire a rehearsal space at RWCMD to workshop and film the students’ performances. It felt both apposite and a privilege to take the play back to its roots and the funding meant that I could have Tracy and Mark with us to develop the students’ work further. So, for us , something incredibly positive had emerged from such challenging circumstances and the student experience turned out to be above and beyond what I had originally hoped for them. As a Drama educator I feel very fortunate to be teaching in Wales and to have had this support for missed learning made available to us; in recent months it has been dismaying to read of proposed funding cuts to Performing Arts education in England and I hope very much that this is an indication of greater support and encouragement in Wales.

In response to Covid-19 Many theatres and arts organisations have developed work to be performed outside. Have you seen any work created in this way and can you see audiences having an appetite for it to continue?

This was, of course, an obvious solution to proposed performances over the last 18 months and it is so encouraging to see some exciting productions happening again. I remain a little concerned by this, however, as is an option that is only really available to specific styles of performance and can therefore only solve the problem in a limited way. At one point during remote learning it was suggested to me that we perform student pieces outside but this option is at its most effective in more expansive performance styles such as classical plays or family entertainment. I had already made careful selections of material for the students to explore, and of course this is always done with their specific learning and training needs in mind, and I really didn’t feel that an outside performance would meet the needs of the piece or the students. In addition to this point, I feel that outside performance exists quite within its own right and to mis place styles within it or to over-use it could take away from its uniqueness.

Lisa Parry, Playwright

With the roll out of the Covid-19 vacancies, the arts sector is hopeful audiences will return to venues. If venues want to attract audiences, what do you think they should do?

I think it basically comes down to clear communication and theatres are very good at communicating with their audiences. We’re used to living in a Covid world now, so simply making everyone aware of the rules and regulations before they arrive will help people’s stress levels I think. I think theatres need to cater for people who are nervous about returning though, and people who are clinically vulnerable too. Will theatres have special performances where social distancing is maintained for example? I think the emphasis needs to be on welcoming people back and accommodating them rather than excluding them if they haven’t had both jabs for example.

Which venue has a special place in your heart and why? 

I’m going for two. Theatr Clwyd because the care it has shown for its audiences, community and freelancers has been second-to-none and I can’t wait to get inside the building again. And also the Sherman, because that’s my local, the theatre which has helped develop me as a writer and a place where I’ve seen life-changing productions and made lifelong colleagues and friends.

The National Youth Theatre on Great Britain planned to produce The Masters House on the 14 -17 July. On the 10 July they announced that due to Covid-19 isolation requirements they have had to cancel the performance. One of the plays directors Chris Sonnex tweeted in response.

“We can’t forget it’s also a reminder of the incompetence of this government, Johnson acted too late over & over, the people in charge hired their incompetent friends & they’re systematically letting down the arts. The disregard they give artists and theatre is because they are scared of the power we have, the opposition we send, the empathy we encourage. We weren’t working with young people, we were working with artists and activists, who will not forget this governments shit. I don’t want to hear anyone chatting about talking Tory or being apolitical. I want you all to hold these incompetent pricks to account. They’re letting your parents down, you are down and the younger generation down. Artist must revolt. Create. Revolt and fight.”

Is Chris correct?

No one will forget the way the government has reacted to Covid – certainly not the younger generation. I was on the school run the other day when a friend said to me how the generation coming through will remember it in a similar way to how he does the miners’ strike and how it’ll affect how they vote as a result. In terms of the work they make, of course it’ll be there.

More widely, is it theatre’s place to revolt and fight? It’s difficult to say it’s not when you look at the legacy of Brecht and Boal. My worry is how the government is already heading that opposition off. Freelancers and buildings which join together to make that kind of work are on their knees because of Covid and a lack of support from the government. Yet at the same time the government has dangled £120 million in front of companies from across the UK as part of its Brexit Festival, now named Festival 22, and some have embraced it as a funding source, despite the outcry from freelancers because of its political origins. If it’s our job as an industry to create, revolt and fight – is that fighting? Can state-sanctioned projects ever really be in opposition to the agenda of the state, however arms-length the organisers’ claim it will ultimately be? Should those companies have refused the money and called on the government to reassess the entire thing after Covid wreaked so much havoc? This debate is hurtling towards us but if you even think Chris might have a point, it’s difficult not to start thinking about what your approach to the festival might be and what the legacy of it will be in terms of artistic opposition across the UK.

In response to Covid-19 Many theatres and arts organisations have developed work to be performed outside. Have you seen any work created in this way and can you see audiences having an appetite for it to continue?

No, not yet. I’m hoping to catch some things later this year. I’ve seen the sets for work outside Chapter and it’s lifted my spirits. I don’t see why that wouldn’t continue – it makes complete sense, especially if audiences feel safer outdoors. Theatre is a relationship between creatives and audiences. If outdoor work will get an audience – why wouldn’t we make it?

Prior to Lockdown many venues did not stream any pre-recorded or live performances should they continue to do so and if so, how can they do this without harming their physical performance offer?

Yes, I really think they should. We have the technology. The National Theatre even has a sharing platform. Is there a way to establish some kind of UK-wide platform, or piggyback onto the NT’s? Theatre is a live medium and live will always be the best experience but it feels really unfair to see London companies getting more cash because they have a UK remit, and then keeping all of that work in London when they could so easily stream it. Streaming after the show has gone down is one way to allay fears re people not going in person because they know it’s going to appear online, but I genuinely can’t see it affecting ticket sales, especially after the time we’ve all had apart. People want to be physically together again. I just think if this experience has taught us anything, it’s that we have a responsibility to each other and as a theatre community that means thinking about audiences who can’t, for whatever reason, see the show in the building. I also think it could bring audiences to theatre too, although there are huge issues in all of this regarding online access etc.

Tafsila Khan, Theatre Director, Access Consultant and Creative Associate, Wales Millenium Centre.

I feel as a disabled person, the last 18 months have given us the time and space to think about what venues offer to their audiences. I believe as venues start reopening they should have their audiences at the center of all decisions. I think something else we have learned is that there is more than one way to engage audiences, for example through digital works. 

Scott Arthur, Actor and Co-Director, The Far Away Plays

With the roll out of the Covid-19 vacancies, the arts sector is hopeful audiences will return to venues. If venues want to attract audiences, what do you think they should do?

First and foremost, venues need full support so that they can be as ambitious as possible. Over the last 18 months people have become so accustomed to staying in that it might take a while for them to even realise that theatre is an option for a good night out again. Of course, lots of regular theatre-goers will be chomping at the bit to get back into venues, but in order to attract a diverse audience too, who might not think theatre is for them, the prospect of going to the theatre needs to seem as exciting as possible. Venues also need a little bit of help from artists who can guarantee a high audience turn out too. It would be great to see well established actors, writers, and directors from Wales, who’ve made a bit of a name for themselves and carry a bit of clout, commit to being part of a play at a venue in Wales that badly needs the support and attention. This would also be a great opportunity to make sure lots of recent drama school graduates are part of a production too, many of them having the most difficult start to their careers.

In regards to venues feeling COVID safe, it’s a relief to see the Welsh government has a little bit of sense, compared to those in Downing St, when it comes to face masks and social distancing. The main priority is making sure all audience members feel safe, and I’m sure Welsh venues will lead the way in doing so. regards to the venues feeling COVID safe, it’s good to see the Welsh government has a little bit of sense in compared to those in Downing St, when it comes to masks and social distancing. The main priority is making sure all audience members feel safe, and I’m sure Welsh venues will lead the way in doing so.

Which venue has a special place in your heart and why?

Theatr Elli, Llanelli. Sadly, it closed its doors back in 2012 due to the opening of Ffwrnes, but it’s this beautiful, old Art Deco theatre on the inside, whilst on the outside it’s an almost dystopian looking building that’s bang in the middle of the town. It meant so much to so many artists from the area. Word on the grapevine is that a private investor is trying to restore it to its original glory and for it to become an all round arts centre once again. That would be truly special.

Theatr Elli

Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea, has a special place in my heart too. It’s such a beautiful theatre and an incredibly vital arts venue for South Wales too. 

The National Youth Theatre on Great Britain planned to produce The Masters House on the 14 -17 July. On the 10 July they announced that due to Covid-19 isolation requirements they have had to cancel the performance. One of the plays directors Chris Sonnex tweeted in response.

“We can’t forget it’s also a reminder of the incompetence of this government, Johnson acted too late over & over, the people in charge hired their incompetent friends & they’re systematically letting down the arts. The disregard they give artists and theatre is because they are scared of the power we have, the opposition we send, the empathy we encourage. We weren’t working with young people, we were working with artists and activists, who will not forget this governments shit. I don’t want to hear anyone chatting about talking Tory or being apolitical. I want you all to hold these incompetent pricks to account. They’re letting your parents down, you are down and the younger generation down. Artist must revolt. Create. Revolt and fight.”

Is Chris correct?

Absolutely. Theatre’s been in need of a revolution for far too long now, even way before the pandemic.

Prior to Lockdown many venues did not stream any pre-recorded or live performances should they continue to do so and if so, how can they do this without harming their physical performance offer?

It’s difficult. Streaming performances have given a whole load of people the chance to see a production who wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to watch that particular piece. Perhaps the way forward is to stream the production for two/three nights only, right at the end of the run, or after the play has finished? The physical performance element has to be prioritised for sure.

Elise Davison, Artistic Director & CEO, Taking Flight Theatre

I went inside a theatre today to start planning a project that should have been delivered in 2020 and is now scheduled for 2022.  Most of our discussions centred around all the things we used to talk about pre pandemic. But there was one major difference, we were not only focussing on what would be happening in the space but also about how we could make that available in a creative way to an audience watching from home. 

As we re emerge lets not forget that for some people coming to a physical theatre building is still not a possibility, maybe it never was.  Lets not unlearn the lessons we learnt out of necessity ‘because we had to’ when we don’t ‘have to’ anymore. For some of our audience will still want the option to enjoy theatre from home and we now have the tools to do this.

Lets not forget about flexible working, remote recruitment and meetings. Lets explore a hybrid approach to making work, for the audience but also for the creatives.

Lets keep our spaces open, experimental and welcoming and please lets continue to work collaboratively. As we press reset lets use this as a chance to keep removing barriers to keep thinking outside the box.

Avant Cymru gave a response based on how their organisation has embraced the challenges of working outdoors to create new work for and with the public.

Avant Cymru are a forward-thinking company from the Rhondda Valleys. We have been living and engaging with our community throughout lockdowns and through conversations around recovery. Planning the events which have taken place though live social distance events or through digital showcasing; Rooting Hip Hop Theatre in Wales workshops, Hydro Jam, Henry V, Cyber Jam, Coming of Age, Hip Hop for Better Mental Health evening, Twelfth Night and Dark Thoughts R&D as shows and we have been involved in newsletters #OurStreet, graffiti pieces #PositivePorth, Stage Combat courses, regular dance session and engaging with others events.

We have key collaborators who co-design our work in the local community and with people from our community of interest. Co-designing, listening and being inspired by our communities needs and ambitions are our shared goals. We believe that there is room for everyone to access the arts and listening to everyone is the most relevant way to create cultural provision.  

Our work is still a hybrid between digital and live/in person.  We featured work in last years C Venues Ed fringe and we are preparing work to do the same this year. As well as other exciting work which we are going to be testing and trailing using zoom read throughs and continuous conversations with both local communities and communities of interest.

Outdoor work has always been a part of our repertoire. Jams, festivals and shows made and adapted to fit in many types of outdoor spaces. The outside work has been sometimes out of necessity, the doors have not always been open for disabled, working class or hip hop artists all elements which are relevant to the work we create. But also through choice, because the Rhondda provides, green (eco-friendly) and beautiful spaces, where the work we creates sits perfectly in these settings.

We are really grateful to Porth AFC and Welcome to Our Woods who offered us Outdoor space during this time. To Welcome to Our Woods for providing us with the opportunity to create in a place an amazing space, where the wood used to build to build the stage will be relaced, through new trees being planted and hydro electricity from the water running off of the mountains, and only a short walk from the train station, a place where the planet and the people could be healthy. Greener ways of working will be involved in all projects going forwards.

As well as amazing venues, we have been able to collaborate with over 114 freelancers; freelancers from RCT, and from drama, dance and Hip Hop communities. We have been able to work together to support not only creative work but each others mental health and well-being. It has been a hard time for many and the opportunity to come together either digitally or in times in person, has been invaluable. We are grateful to each and every freelancer who has collaborated with us at this time, we cannot wait to start planning the next projects together.

Avant have upcoming digital shows, live classes opportunities already on our website www.avant.cymru with more opportunities coming soon.

We have 5 spaces on the next stage combat course from the 30th of Aug, if anyone is interested in getting involved email us at hello@avant.cymru or follow us on social media.

You can read more about HydroJam in this article by Ann Davies here

Cory Shipp, Theatre Designer

With the roll out of the Covid-19 vacancies, the arts sector is hopeful audiences will return to venues. If venues want to attract audiences, what do you think they should do?

I think they need to advertise what they are doing to make audience safe, which is ultimately our biggest problem at the moment but honestly we could have done with higher audience numbers anyway! I’d love to see more theatres doing Pay What You Can, advertising better prices for single seats for those of us who go it alone as well as better access.

Which venue has a special place in your heart and why? 

Oooh tough choice! I have so much love for The Orange Tree in Richmond as they did such a huge amount for me as a designer when I was starting out and are incredibly welcoming and supportive with a real focus on artists well being. In Wales, it’s always going to be Theatr Clwyd.  I’ve only been lucky enough to work their once, just before the pandemic, but they really opened their doors during the closure to freelancers, with regular check ins, bursaries for those of us who were struggling financially and generally are a great advocate for wells talent which I really admire.

The National Youth Theatre on Great Britain planned to produce The Masters House on the 14 -17 July. On the 10 July they announced that due to Covid-19 isolation requirements they have had to cancel the performance. One of the plays directors Chris Sonnex tweeted in response.

“We can’t forget it’s also a reminder of the incompetence of this government, Johnson acted too late over & over, the people in charge hired their incompetent friends & they’re systematically letting down the arts. The disregard they give artists and theatre is because they are scared of the power we have, the opposition we send, the empathy we encourage. We weren’t working with young people, we were working with artists and activists, who will not forget this governments shit. I don’t want to hear anyone chatting about talking Tory or being apolitical. I want you all to hold these incompetent pricks to account. They’re letting your parents down, you are down and the younger generation down. Artist must revolt. Create. Revolt and fight.”

Is Chris correct?

100%. I admire Chris Sonnex so much as a director and a human – he’s a great person who has passion and fight in all the right places, and he’s determined to make change. It is no secret that a Conservative government doesn’t support the arts – I don’t know why, they just don’t. As much as I admire people who don’t want to make art political I don’t think we have a choice anymore if we want to survive and make change. It is thanks to the choices this government made that a lot of us have ended up with very little income, grants or any level of financial stability mainly because they put the needs of themselves over others, and failed to listen to our industry leaders who were telling us this wouldn’t work.  We shouldn’t be taking this lying down anymore.

In response to Covid-19 Many theatres and arts organisations have developed work to be performed outside. Have you seen any work created in this way and can you see audiences having an appetite for it to continue?

I think outdoor work is incredible and should be seen more. Its a shame it took a pandemic to bring back the wonderful outdoor touring circus/festival vibe that appeals to so many people! I don’t think its a replacement at all for indoor theatre, but a complete alternative experience – although I think people avoid it due to the terrible unpredictability of British weather….

Prior to Lockdown many venues did not stream any pre-recorded or live performances should they continue to do so and if so, how can they do this without harming their physical performance offer?

I don’t think it will ever harm the physical performance! Surely it just increases audience numbers and improves accessibility chances.  A lot of us will still always prefer to see it physical, but perhaps cannot because of travel, financial ability and a variety of other reasons.  You don’t see the NT struggling with audience numbers because of NTLive….

If we open up smaller performances to a much wider (and sometime international!) level I cannot see any reason that that wouldn’t be more successful than none at all once the initial costs were dealt with – which I appreciate is expensive but ultimately we’re improving access and that is so important and is the way we need to look at moving forward.

Dan Jones – Artistic Director, The Other Room Theatre

With the roll out of the Covid-19 vacancies, the arts sector is hopeful audiences will return to venues. If venues want to attract audiences, what do you think they should do?

In the first instance I think some joy is needed, a celebration of the shared live experience that has been out of reach for so long. A reminder that when humans connect, creativity leads to magical and enriching experience. But that is not to say that it should all be sunshine and roses. I believe we have a duty to be honest. But if we can find hope in the truth it would be a much-needed remedy.

Which venue has a special place in your heart and why? 

The Other Room of course. I have quite literally given my 20s to it and traversing the next 12 – 24 months to secure the legacies of Kate, Bizzy and everyone else this theatre has touched is very important to me.

The National Youth Theatre on Great Britain planned to produce The Masters House on the 14 -17 July. On the 10 July they announced that due to Covid-19 isolation requirements they have had to cancel the performance. One of the plays directors Chris Sonnex tweeted in response.

“We can’t forget it’s also a reminder of the incompetence of this government, Johnson acted too late over & over, the people in charge hired their incompetent friends & they’re systematically letting down the arts. The disregard they give artists and theatre is because they are scared of the power we have, the opposition we send, the empathy we encourage. We weren’t working with young people, we were working with artists and activists, who will not forget this governments shit. I don’t want to hear anyone chatting about talking Tory or being apolitical. I want you all to hold these incompetent pricks to account. They’re letting your parents down, you are down and the younger generation down. Artist must revolt. Create. Revolt and fight.”

Is Chris correct?

I think there is a lot of truth in that, and many ideas chime with my own. A word of caution on revolution, however. Access to opportunity in the arts is a colossal issue for the sector. Revolution requires sacrifice. It must be those with privilege that revolt, those who can shoulder the sacrifice, but at all costs they must protect fair and equitable conditions for those starting out and those from marginalised and less fortunate backgrounds.

In response to Covid-19 Many theatres and arts organisations have developed work to be performed outside. Have you seen any work created in this way and can you see audiences having an appetite for it to continue?

To my shame, no. This isn’t an offering that has found me in my current circumstances. I think if the decision to be outside is earned creatively, that is to say it enhances the story that is being told, then I think audiences will lap it up. Meaningful and rich story telling can take place anywhere. The famous words of Peter Brook are the foundations of The Other Room, and with the uncertainty of our future I predict some exciting adventures that will expand our brand and creative horizons.

Prior to Lockdown many venues did not stream any pre-recorded or live performances should they continue to do so and if so, how can they do this without harming their physical performance offer?

Personally, I do not think digital offerings pose a great threat to theatre as we know and cherish it. I suspect a lot of people like me (who worked on and offered digital content) became fatigued by the offering pretty quickly. We are not filmmakers; we are theatre makers, and the live shared experience is the cornerstone of the medium. To me, digital offerings cannot compete with that. That isn’t to say elements of the digital experience cannot be incorporated. They just need to be earned creatively.

There’s no denying though that the digital offerings seen over the past year or so have made a lot of work accessible to those who would otherwise not have been able to consume it. Asking questions of all access barriers is only a good thing. For me that is what theatre can do, view digital offerings as a weapon to wield against access barriers and inequity. I keep faith that the commercial potential of digital theatre is capped and will not pose a meaningful risk to the live “physical” performance. This is a belief and opinion though, so perhaps as a contingency, if we all view the digital form as a tool for structural change maybe we will stay on track.

Branwen Davies, Playwright, Literary Manager, Sherman Theatre

With the roll out of the Covid-19 vacancies, the arts sector is hopeful audiences will return to venues. If venues want to attract audiences, what do you think they should do?

I think venues, despite the complications and hardship of Covid, had a responsibility to keep in touch with their audiences and their freelancers during lockdown and to find a way to nurture and provide during the long months of lockdown. It’s been interesting to see how different venues and companies have done this and adapted and reacted as months went on. Dirty Protest for instance have been holding weekly ‘Writer Gyms,’ Pontio held a series of workshops and Theatr Clwyd had their outside stage and online play readings.  I think the venues who have been successful will see a sense of loyalty and these audience members readily return and support. Some venues and companies have discovered that maintaining an online relationship and communication has enabled them to connect with new audience members and I hope that the ease and practicality of connecting online won’t be lost when venues re-open. Not everybody will be jumping at the chance to return to the auditorium and venues will need to be sympathetic to different needs and provide variety and options and to communicate with audience members. I strongly believe also that there needs to be a celebration of being able to reunite and return to venues and that venues provide joy, escapism, comfort and connection. 

Which venue has a special place in your heart and why? 

I was recently appointed as the new Literary Manager of the Sherman Theatre so perhaps biased but the venue does have a special place in my heart! I first performed at the Sherman in 1997 when I was a member of National Youth Theatre Wales and performed there as a RWCMD acting student. I have also had various plays performed at the Sherman (‘Dominos’ and ‘Gwagle’) and the opportunity to direct Criw Brwd’s ‘Yn ei Blodau’ in the studio theatre. I have led on the ‘Fresh Ink’ projects and the ‘Young Writers’ programmes in the past and benefited in taking part in writer groups at the Sherman led by Alan Harris and Brad Birch. I am very excited about the plans and productions in the pipeline and the voices and stories the Sherman are nurturing, celebrating and supporting. There is a breath of fresh air to the work and I am really looking forward to seeing how the Sherman can grow and evolve in this new theatrical landscape. 

Sherman Theatre

The National Youth Theatre on Great Britain planned to produce The Masters House on the 14 -17 July. On the 10 July they announced that due to Covid-19 isolation requirements they have had to cancel the performance. One of the plays directors Chris Sonnex tweeted in response.

“We can’t forget it’s also a reminder of the incompetence of this government, Johnson acted too late over & over, the people in charge hired their incompetent friends & they’re systematically letting down the arts. The disregard they give artists and theatre is because they are scared of the power we have, the opposition we send, the empathy we encourage. We weren’t working with young people, we were working with artists and activists, who will not forget this governments shit. I don’t want to hear anyone chatting about talking Tory or being apolitical. I want you all to hold these incompetent pricks to account. They’re letting your parents down, you are down and the younger generation down. Artist must revolt. Create. Revolt and fight.”

Is Chris correct?

Chris is correct! We need to be vocal and honest at how atrocious and incompetent the government in Westminster have been and continue to be.  Theatre is powerful. It does have the power to transform lives and choosing not to support freelancers, artists, community and young people’s projects will have a long lasting and devastating effect on society. Yes, many sectors have been affected and yes the pandemic forced many difficult decisions but the Arts have suffered blow after blow and yet it was the Arts and artists that people turned to to survive during the lockdown! This is an industry that can adapt and respond and make things happen safely and effectively (have you met stage managers?!) but also an industry that has the power to heal and help make sense of it all as well as the ability to unite and bring people together. If we remain quiet, if we are not willing to speak up then we are in danger of losing a vital cog in what makes society work. 

In response to Covid-19 Many theatres and arts organisations have developed work to be performed outside. Have you seen any work created in this way and can you see audiences having an appetite for it to continue?


Outside work is nothing new but seems to be another alternative currently with our theatres closed. Theatr Iolo have created beautiful work for babies and young children – Baby, Bird & Bee and Hoof for instance. I’m excited that Os Nad Nawr, a company Wyn Mason and myself set up are currently co-producing a new play ‘Gwlad yr Asyn‘ (Donkey Land) with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru. The play opens at the WMC on August the 10th and then tours outside venues including Theatr Clwyd, Plas Glyn y Weddw, Pontio, Pembrey Country Park and Aberystwyth throughout August. This has been made possible by venues collaborating and a real need and want to reach out to audiences starved of live theatre. The production is a part of a series of open-air shows at the various locations. There is a real festival feel to the productions and I think that we are hardy and experienced enough to enjoy outside entertainment whatever the skies throw at us! 

One of my main joys regarding theatre is the ability to share the experience live with an audience. That is what I’ve missed the most. Sitting in the dark with strangers experiencing something in the moment and being moved and enthralled together and then discussing  what we’ve experienced in the bar or the queue to the toilet after! However, I have enjoyed watching online theatre during lockdown, especially productions that were created specifically for an online platform and devised and experimented with the platform or retained a theatrical feel. Eddie Ladd’s ‘Fy Ynys Las’ was a great example as was Dirty Protest’s ‘Kill Me Now’ (which can be enjoyed again at the Edinburgh Festival – Summer Hall events) and Frân Wen’s ‘Faust +  Greta.’ 

I’ve also enjoyed online productions streamed from venues and locations I probably could never have travelled to and I know venues have been able to attract new audiences by providing online streaming. I feel venues need to continue to develop online streaming and provide online options as it has huge implications with accessibility and attracting audiences who can’t or are uncomfortable travelling to the venue. 

Zara Mader, Artist

With the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccines, the arts sector is hopeful audiences will return to venues. If venues want to attract audiences, what do you think they should do?

I think they should make ticket prices more accessible regardless of where you sit in the theatre, consider the programming and who and what is commissioned.

Which venue has a special place in your heart and why? 

I am quite fond of The New Theatre. Although the seating is snug, I’ve seen an array of plays there and I always feel like it’s a bit special. 

The National Youth Theatre on Great Britain planned to produce The Masters House on the 14 -17 July. On the 10 July they announced that due to Covid-19 isolation requirements they have had to cancel the performance. One of the plays directors Chris Sonnex tweeted in response.

“We can’t forget it’s also a reminder of the incompetence of this government, Johnson acted too late over & over, the people in charge hired their incompetent friends & they’re systematically letting down the arts. The disregard they give artists and theatre is because they are scared of the power we have, the opposition we send, the empathy we encourage. We weren’t working with young people, we were working with artists and activists, who will not forget this governments shit. I don’t want to hear anyone chatting about talking Tory or being apolitical. I want you all to hold these incompetent pricks to account. They’re letting your parents down, you are down and the younger generation down. Artist must revolt. Create. Revolt and fight.”

Is Chris correct?

Yes I think what Chris says is fair and correct.  The arts offer so much to people and bring so much money in to the economy and this government’s flippancy and incompetency is jaw dropping. 

In response to Covid-19 Many theatres and arts organisations have developed work to be performed outside. Have you seen any work created in this way and can you see audiences having an appetite for it to continue?

I have been to a couple of offsite film screenings and have been to the wonderful Minack Theatre in Cornwall so yes I could see audiences wanting it to continue. It adds another dimension to the theatre going experience.

Prior to Lockdown many venues did not stream any pre-recorded or live performances should they continue to do so and if so, how can they do this without harming their physical performance offer?

Yes I think venues should continue streaming performances if they can. It is particularly good thing to offer other theatres and possibly cinemas particularly if audience members cannot make the physical performances when and where they are originally on. These types of performances could bring new audiences in to the theatre and possibly give the idea that a job in the theatre is an option.

Owen Thomas Playwright

With the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccines, the arts sector is hopeful audiences will return to venues. If venues want to attract audiences, what do you think they should do?

It is primarily going to be about restoring the confidence of the audience in the first instance. Things aren’t just going to pick up where they left off, so a cautious, pragmatic approach is key. The thing that makes the theatre so special, namely sharing a unique experience with a group of strangers, is the thing that has also made us vulnerable. I was lucky enough to see ‘Under Milk Wood’ at the National Theatre recently which showed me how it is possible to see work safely indoors. We sat in distanced pairs, we were safely marshalled in and out of the theatre and we all respected the Covid requirements. It felt a little odd, if safe. But when the lights went down and the show began we were all able to forget the world for a while. It was a profoundly moving experience and for the first time in a long time it gave me a sense of hope.

Which venue has a special place in your heart and why? 

There are many venues in Wales that have a special meaning for me. Theatr Brycheiniog is where my theatrical career began, and the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff is where I was given the opportunity to develop. But because of the huge impact the building has had on so many aspects of my life, then The Torch Theatre in Milford Haven is incredibly special. Working with Peter Doran on both ‘Grav’ and ‘The Wood’ ultimately gave me the confidence to become a full-time writer, and for that I will always be grateful. I will always carry a torch for the Torch.

The National Youth Theatre on Great Britain planned to produce The Masters House on the 14 -17 July. On the 10 July they announced that due to Covid-19 isolation requirements they have had to cancel the performance. One of the plays directors Chris Sonnex tweeted in response.

“We can’t forget it’s also a reminder of the incompetence of this government, Johnson acted too late over & over, the people in charge hired their incompetent friends & they’re systematically letting down the arts. The disregard they give artists and theatre is because they are scared of the power we have, the opposition we send, the empathy we encourage. We weren’t working with young people, we were working with artists and activists, who will not forget this governments shit. I don’t want to hear anyone chatting about talking Tory or being apolitical. I want you all to hold these incompetent pricks to account. They’re letting your parents down, you are down and the younger generation down. Artist must revolt. Create. Revolt and fight.”

Is Chris correct?

Without question the Arts is one of the sectors that has been most overlooked in this pandemic. It is worth noting that one of the things that kept most people going during the lockdown periods was the arts in some shape or form, be in boxsets or podcasts or plays or music. We are a resilient and creative sector, but I do agree with the sentiment that it is time to fight for what we love. The thought that there are young people who have decided against a career in the arts because of this pandemic is very worrying as we depend on the talent and innovation of the next generation of artists. Before becoming a full-time writer, I was a Drama teacher for 20 years and I saw year in year out the enormous benefits that the subject, and other arts subjects has on the lives of young people. I find the governments plans to cut funding for Arts subjects in Higher Education to be yet another worrying sign of their attitude to us as a sector.

In response to Covid-19 Many theatres and arts organisations have developed work to be performed outside. Have you seen any work created in this way and can you see audiences having an appetite for it to continue?

This week I am very excited to be going to see some outdoor theatre, namely ‘Hoof’ by Theatre Iolo. They are a brilliant company who I am incredibly excited to be developing an outdoor show for at the moment. Open air theatre can be an amazing experience, if somewhat restricted by the tempestuous British weather and the turn of the seasons. But there is clearly an appetite for people to see theatre outdoors. It can be an excellent way of keeping audiences engaged and another step on the road to building up their confidence to come back into a theatre again. There is a great tradition of outdoor theatre in the UK and some brilliant, innovative companies and performers out there, so yes, I think the appetite will remain strong.

Hoof

Prior to Lockdown many venues did not stream any pre-recorded or live performances should they continue to do so and if so, how can they do this without harming their physical performance offer?

I think streaming is going to be a part of theatrical output for the foreseeable future. As people’s confidence rebuilds, this is a good bridge between the audience and the theatre. We recently filmed ‘The Wood’ and one positive was attracting audiences from further afield to the play.

The Wood

In my opinion it will never replicate the feeling of being in a theatre, as the lights fade and the audience settles. But if it keeps work being developed and enjoyed by audiences then that can only be a good thing. Revenues are going to take a while to return to what they were pre-pandemic, so streaming becomes not only a way of continuing to engage with your audience, but also a source of much needed finances as the theatre begins to find its footing once more.

Alétte Fontaine, Playwright

With the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccines, the arts sector is hopeful audiences will return to venues. If venues want to attract audiences, what do you think they should do?

With the success of the vaccination programme against covid-19, we are starting to see a positive shift in attitude from the arts sector in regards to reopening venues. For a majority of people, the wearing of masks has become commonplace, though the government’s plans of asserting new “freedoms” and lifting restrictions has stirred inevitable concern for some members of the public, amid fears of spreading and catching the virus. In conjunction with the cautiousness and protection of perhaps the most vulnerable members of our society, would it not be sensible to continue the wearing of masks in enclosed spaces, if not so to decline the sheer volumes of people being required to self-isolate? 

Furthermore, in order for theatres amongst other venues to reopen successfully, it may be worth reflecting on the pilot testing schemes such as the World Snooker Championship held at the Crucible earlier this year. The event held just under 1000 spectators, at full capacity during the final between Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy. Within this pilot testing scheme, 28 cases of Covid-19 were detected and tracked which helped to prevent further spread. 

As always, the risk of infection is on the tip of everyone’s tongue, and to allow full-capacity audiences back into our venues, matching pre-pandemic conditions, could be a step too far. To welcome people back safely, providing evidence of a negative test is arguably one of the better ways for reassurance of both performers and viewers alike, and I believe being cautious with numbers as we slowly ease back into “normality,” may be the most suitable option moving into autumn and winter.  

Which venue has a special place in your heart and why? 

A venue I believe warrants a special place in my heart is the Sherman Theatre, based in Cardiff. Since 2016, I have undergone two minor shows as a young performer; now moving onto producing original work as part of their Introduction To Playwriting programme, led by Tim Howe.

Sherman Theatre

The team have always been fully committed to producing new writing as well as elevating voices which have not had the platform they deserve, to share work and build relationships with the theatre.  As a young playwright, it can be difficult to gain representation and respect in such a competitive industry, with many arguing you’re too inexperienced to be given a moment of presenting your work onstage. As such, I am beyond grateful for my local theatre to have supplied me with the chance of producing a monologue for online viewing, an audio drama and now being able to showcase alongside four professional writers as part of their autumn festival for new writing. With numerous guest speakers including but not limited to Tim Price, Catherine Paskell, Nerida Bradley, instructive tutors such as Branwen Davies, Matt Hartley, Katie Elin-Salt, Tim Howe, I have equipped authenticity and insight into honing my craft and knowledge about how the industry works. 

Prior to Lockdown many venues did not stream any pre-recorded or live performances should they continue to do so and if so, how can they do this without harming their physical performance offer?

Pre-pandemic, it was uncommon to see shows streamed online, as theatre has predominantly, and will continue very much to be about the live aspect and atmosphere built in intimate venues.  Taking away this live, physicalised aspect of theatre can also remove its integrity and emotional impact on an audience, as we often struggle to regain this sense of feeling from looking through a screen.

Despite this, earlier in the year I witnessed an online production of Rhiannon Boyle’s “Kill Me Now,” which was hosted by Dirty Protest theatre group. This was featured live via Zoom. Overall, I felt the formatting was successful and engaging with its audience, with the play’s subject matter of promoting funeral services bonding well with its webinar style. 

After seeing this production, I now believe that physical theatre can work in collaboration with online performances, without hindering their physical performance offer. It may also be a good idea to suggest the recording of live productions in an archive which people can pay access to view, as with National Theatre’s “at home” platform. 

Additionally, I believe after an introduction of my work being digital and the increasing number of digitalised performances, we should continue to explore theatre in all mediums, and often these online performances allow for better connectivity and accessibility, such as the use of closed captions, interpreters, audio descriptions, versus live theatre.  

Review, What The Ladybird Heard, Julia Donaldson, Palace Theatre By Hannah Goslin

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

The best critic for a children’s show, are the children themselves. I was lucky enough to take my 3 year old nephew, an avid reader and Julia Donaldson fan, to see What The Ladybird Heard at the West End located, Palace Theatre.

Walking up to the theatre, the original book in his bag, he pointed out the poster on the outside in complete excitement. A rainbow ballooned archway was set up for the queue and ticket check, and straight into the auditorium, the stage was set out already ready for our viewing. His eyes were wide and so was his mouth in awe.

What The Ladybird Heard is a wonderful show about a farm yard with an array of the usual animals, including a prize cow. Two local thieves devise a plan to steal the prize cow, but their plan is foiled when the, usually silence, Ladybird hears their plan and involves the animals to scupper their attempt at stealing the cow.

My nephew has read the book many times, but I, myself, had no idea the premise of this production. As an adult, I loved the concept – it was easy to follow, it was fun and full of mischief and learning opportunities for children. The production takes the book and changes some of the written to a song, adds other songs, with dance and jaunty movements across the stage. This is fun and you find yourself often dancing along.

The Ladybird, Cats and prize Cow are already there and available, but a wonderful sequence occurs when the farm hands use bits and pieces on the farm to create the other animals for the tale. This is so fun when you try to guess what they are developing, what noise the animal may make, and this makes it full of magic and curiosity.

There are plenty of opportunities for audience engagement, with the encouragement for children to sing, to make the animals noises, to boo and hiss and cheer. As for my nephew, he stared in awe the entire time, my sister informing me that this means he is really enjoying it – a brilliant sign. Even offering him a drink and snacks throughout meant putting it in his eyeline because nothing else could take him away from the stage.

The set and props are so well thought out, with great attention to details. The paper flowers grow up the wall when they are watered, the sun and moon come up and down in the background, while most of the animals are moved by the performers, you soon forget this as they are so cute to look at and so funny when they get involved.

The performers themselves are so talented – at no point did they corpse or lose focus, when at times it could have been easy to do so with the silly, funny additions made. Along with recorded music, the performers add music and soundscapes using live instruments which I always think is a great thing to add to a children’s show, giving them a chance to see something they may have never seen or heard. They also sing live, with great voices and well thought out harmonies, the songs themselves are easy to pick up and after a sentence or two, you find yourself singing along yourself.

What The Ladybird Heard is perfection. It is funny, it is colourful, witty and well paced. As an adult, I found myself encapsulated, singing along, and enjoying every aspect, even guessing what would happen next. My nephew, was stunned into silence and when it finished, could not stop talking about what he saw on stage. It is the perfect production to watch with theatres opening up and to get children into theatre.

Review: The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth by Sian Thomas

(3/5)

The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth had some reminiscent tones of Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End. The book, following Saoirse and Ruby’s summer romance, was fated to end with the beginning of university terms and the creeping cold of autumn.
After a good few years of university behind me, it was such good fun to read something light-hearted, summery, and fun. Saoirse is a sarcastic, snappy character navigating the transition from college to university struggling with her decision to go to Oxford and leave behind her mother with dementia and her father exploring new relationships and straining the family. Ruby is excited for the future and for the present, she’s looking for fun as time ticks by before she goes back home – from Ireland back to England.
They agree on a contract – they’ll have fun now, and when the summer ends, so will their time together. In the meantime, they’re living out a list of rom-com stereotypes: movie night, fun fair, teach the other a new skill, kiss in the rain, and every other thing from every other movie under “rom-com” or “cheesy flick” type categories that you can think of. Most of the book is compromised of this, the “fun” part but a depth gets explored as well, Saoirse’s past relationships, Ruby’s family, the ever-looming start of university. It was nice to watch the blossoming of an LGBT relationship. While I’ve read a lot of YA/LGBT books before, on reflection I’ve realised I’ve read more about gay men than I have about lesbians – so this was a great change of pace – and it shined a light on both me and on my bookshelf. There’s a line somewhere tucked in the pages that talks about the absolute lack of lesbian rom-coms which I realised, although I don’t typically watch rom-com movies, is true.
Although I knew that when the book ended so would their relationship and there wouldn’t be some classic “happy ever after” (and I thought I was prepared for that because, like They Both Die at the End, I had ample warning), there was still a strong tug to my heartstrings when I reached the final few pages. Saoirse’s father remarries to a woman that Saoirse grows to like – the relationship grows slowly into something that genuinely feels earned, which is lovely to see unfold after their rocky start – and, as expected, Saoirse and Ruby’s relationship comes to an end with the promise to send a few letters in the post, to show each other their “life debris” as time marches on.
The writing was gentle, funny, and very life like – I’ve found more recently than not that stories that decide to include text messages are getting better and better. The humour comes through them effortlessly – sometimes better than through the dialogue – and they bring an extra layer of life to the characters. This is the kind of book I needed just after a slew of classics and other tomes on my ever-growing university reading list. It was such a great change of pace to read something that was so enjoyable I read through it like a breeze.
The book was a great read, and came along at the perfect time. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to enjoy something easy but heartfelt, something fun and bittersweet. It really is a lovely book.

Sian Thomas

LOVEREADING LITFEST PARTNERS WITH THE RIVERFRONT THEATRE AND ARTS CENTRE AND NEWPORT LIVE IN WALES TO HIGHLIGHT THE EXPERIENCES OF REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS

LoveReading LitFest, the recently launched, digitally native, subscription-based books and literature festival, has partnered with Newport Live – a charitable trust providing cultural and sporting activities in Newport, Wales – to support the launch of the critically-acclaimed debut novel Many Rivers To Cross by Dylan Moore at an exclusive event. The talk will be live on LoveReading LitFest tomorrow.

The author, who is the editor of the welsh agenda, was interviewed about his new book by Sharif Gemie, with the session filmed at The Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre, right in the heart of the city centre. Sharif Gemie is a former Professor of History. He mainly researched people on the move, whether refugees (Outcast Europe, 2011), Muslims in Europe (French Muslims, 2010) or hippy travellers (A History of the Hippy Trail, 2017). He lives in Newport and is currently writing a novel set among UN aid-workers in Germany, 1945—46.

Written following a period volunteering at the Sanctuary Project in Newport, and partly based on interviews with asylum seekers and refugees, Many Rivers To Cross traces a series of journeys – migrations across time and space – from the streets of Pillgwenlly, Newport to the ‘Jungle’ camp at Calais, and from Ethiopia to the island of Lampedusa. Described by Welsh novelist, poet and translator Siân Melangell Dafydd as “an essential story for an age of migration”, the novel takes the reader to places most of us have never been, and would never wish to go.

The event also featured contributions from two refugees originally from Ethiopia, now settled in Newport. Biniyam Birtukan talked about how his work as a freelance magazine journalist in Ethiopia became impossible due to issues around freedom of speech, his role in establishing the famous St Michael’s Orthodox Church in the ‘Jungle’ camp at Calais, and the satisfaction he has found working as a healthcare assistant since being granted leave to remain in the UK. Yohannes Obsi talked about his mixed heritage background and how his support for the formerly banned opposition group the Oromo Liberation Front landed him in government detention, from which he escaped to make a dangerous journey through Sudan, Libya, Italy and France to reach the UK.

Paul Blezard, Festival Director at the LoveReading LitFest, said: “Dylan’s powerful new novel does something extraordinary. It takes us beyond the screen images that have filled us with horror and compassion for too long and straight into the hearts, minds, hopes and fears of those who are forced, or choose, to undertake life-risking journeys towards safety and sanctuary. We are so honoured and privileged to host Dylan, Biniyam and Yohannes and to support them through this important event.”

Alan Dear, Head of Theatre, Arts, and Culture at The Riverfront Theatre, Newport Live said: “TheRiverfront is delighted to make this new partnership and as we start on the long journey of Covid-recovery we hope that literature will form a core part of our future programme. We now have the capacity to provide content digitally and hope that this will provide pleasure to our new and current audiences until a time when we can reopen our doors again.”

Dylan Moore (@_DylanMoore) | nitter

Many Rivers To Cross by Dylan Mooreis published by local publisher Three Impostors at £10

Review Simply Charming by Nathan Scott Howe

Reviewed by Barbara Hughes-Moore

Having spent a year trapped in our towers and unable to let our hair down, it’s only natural we would long for the escapism of fantasy. Even before the world stood still, a rise in fairy tale retellings spoke to our collective yearning to break free from everyday existence; to conjure up a pumpkin carriage and finally go to the ball. Fairy tales have a unique power to transport you into a world where anything is possible. This is a realm in which good people get everything they’ve dreamed and deserved, where cynicism and cruelty go unrewarded, and where a happily ever after is only one wish away. If you want your wish granted, look no further than Simply Charming, a reimagining of Cinderella from her prince’s perspective, written and illustrated by Nathan Scott Howe.

Image credit: Nathan Scott Howe

Cinderella is one of our most culturally beloved stories, retold countless times in myriad ways – but the focus, as you might expect, has (almost) always been on its pure-hearted heroine. Simply Charming flips the script by centring on Prince Charming himself, a character so historically generic he’s become a byword for one-dimensional hunky niceness and very little else. In the original tale, he’s more a prize than he is a prince – simultaneously the person everyone’s searching for and the person whom nobody truly knows. Howe’s book not only gives Prince Charming a personality and a proper character arc, it shows how his parents shaped the man he would become; a man who would search an entire kingdom to find his true love.

Image credit: Nathan Scott Howe

Just as Maleficent fleshed out Sleeping Beauty’s ‘villainess’ into a complicated anti-heroine, Simply Charming takes a character formerly reduced to one-note chivalry and explores exactly why he deserves that much-prophesied happily ever after. Part one focuses on Florence, Charming’s mother, and part two on Charming himself. Howe takes time and care to craft sympathetic characters whose company it is a pleasure to share, and you can sense his genuine affection for the characters in every word. It’s a real labour of love, having taken eight years from inception to completion. This self-published book has both the grounded, loving feel of Ever After and the sumptuous palette of the Disney classic. Howe has an eye for tone, texture, and visuals in his writing, and his brilliant use of descriptive imagery often made me feel like I was stepping into a painting – an immersive experience enhanced by his gorgeously illustrated chapter headings (which eagle-eyed readers might spot changing as the story progresses). The stunning cover image alone, which combines illustrations from key moments throughout the book, is a work both of art and heart.

Image credit: Nathan Scott Howe

I was constantly thrilled by Howe’s inventive incorporation of the Cinderella mythos – right down to the pumpkin carriage and the vengeful housecat! – in ways which wonderfully expand on and enhance the original tale. Learning the origins of these elements, and especially the motif of time which underscores the tale, has made the story even more resonant than it was before. It’s a rare treat to watch an author hone their craft in real time, and you can witness Howe’s confidence and skill blossom chapter-by-chapter. Although it may at times seem a little uneven, I feel this can be forgiven as the first half is setting up the pieces which pay off brilliantly in the second. Though I would have loved for some intriguing story points and interesting characters to have gotten more of the spotlight (a Poppi/Samuel spinoff, anyone?), I greatly appreciated the book’s focus on character and theme over plot. It reminded me of Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series, which is more concerned with making you feel like part of a kooky and loving family than bamboozling you with twists. Simply Charming is a story for everyone: pure escapism into a kind and gentle world.

That the story concludes just before the happy ending we know so well is incredibly poignant. We know that Cinderella will marry her prince – it’s part of our collective consciousness, after all – but Simply Charming is about the journey to happily ever after. It’s like life: sometimes it all falls into place, and sometimes it doesn’t. Living happily ever after is never a certainty, and even if it does happen, we’ll never know where the fairy tale really ends. We’re left on the precipice of hope and promise; a precarity that a year in lockdown has only served to magnify.

Image credit: Nathan Scott Howe

Immersive, innovative, and involving, Simply Charming had me completely under its spell. Howe crafted a world I simply didn’t want to leave, and reading it was genuinely joyous from the first to the last word. During a time in which the bad news more often seems to weigh out the good, Simply Charming reminded me that people can be brave and kind, that wishes do come true, and that a love that is secure and unfettered and fought for is a magic all of its own. Last Christmas, Howe and his colleagues designed and produced Christmas cards to raise funds for the New Theatre (they sold out in less than a week). Profits from the sales of Simply Charming will be donated to Macmillan Cancer Trust and Great Ormond Street Hospital, and it’s a beautifully generous act which underscores the heart of the fairy tale: that time is fleeting and therefore precious, that kindness and goodness always triumphs, and that a happy ending lies ahead of us all, if we fight for it. In Howe’s words, “Have faith in your dreams, they have more power than you think”.

Simply Charming is available for digital download on Amazon.com.

Disclaimer: The author has a pre-existing relationship with Get the Chance; a copy of the book was purchased in exchange for an honest review.

The Play about Theresa May by Amie Maria Marie, Review by Lois Arcari

Figure 1: Amie’s costume of May accurately conveys all the warmth of a frozen kipper

Theresa May. She’s an easy political footnote to miss. She’d probably be overlooked in any year: but 2020 provided the perfect environment for this indentured Tory to withdraw from the public conscious. How we can imagine her laugh, head bobbing like a grotesque puppet, captured in a hundred memes, at each new Boris Johnson blunder, glad she’s not withering in the hot seat anymore.

A play about this unremarkable PM might seem like a hard sell. Playwright Amie M Marie’s book of the play, written in 2017, provides a look back to the politics of 2018. Practically a different century in the post Covid world order. Marie provides an especially important perspective as a queer, disabled writer, and comedian: belonging to two of the groups most marginalised by Tory leadership.

On the one hand, certain references date the play. On the other, the play can be harshly prescient. Jokes that once may have been played small, become harder to laugh with and easier to grimace at. The following exchange, part of a scene where Miss May is confronted directly by a member of the public, is one of those moments:

‘‘Do you think you could do a better job?’’ ‘‘I don’t know. Maybe any of us could.’’

This sounds just like the hand-wringing Johnson supporters’ level on his behalf. How could any of us know what to do when faced with a pandemic? In our current situation, as in this play, we might not have all the answers ourselves. But we generally have a better idea of what not to do.  What would rankle an individual conscience more than a political one. Marie’s play also shows how well-kept convictions, knowledge and assurance, have been damned by political inaction.

The play illustrates the failure of senior Tories to engage with – let alone convince us they believe – their own rhetoric. May repeats mantras which she’s well aware make as much sense as the ramblings of King Lear. Visual representations of sound bites, real statistics woven into dialogue may shock you. But that shock has not translated to a change in voting habits for the last 10 years. A play designed to tackle complacency has accidentally created an incriminating portrait of it.  

Theresa May, as played by Marie, appeared on stage with a red nose. An unconscious clown in the empress’ new clothes, alongside her party’s faithful hand-me-downs of cruelty and coldness. The play deftly illustrates May’s clownishness through frenetic physical comedy and a whirligig cast of political cameos. But when it slows down, it’s unafraid to show she is the owner and creator of her own devastating decisions – holding her to particular account over her policies towards disabled people.

One problem with the written material vs the performed play is that I can’t imagine to what extent the costuming works. As written, it makes sense. it’s hard to visualise the performance from her dialogue and monologue, and advertising for the play previews seemed quite ‘on the nose’: not just playful but almost self-congratulatory in a way the play just isn’t when you read it.

Figure 2: Amie Marie as Theresa May, wearing a red clown nose

The tension and exhaustion May’s character feels are tangible just through the written material, but Marie was careful not to fall into the ‘trap’ of portraying her sympathetically.

Although May’s tenure was dwarfed by the outlandish characters she was surrounded by, her calculated greyness enabled them to rise through the ranks the minute she jumped ship. The play introduces Jeremy Hunt (through a joke either I can’t remember or everyone else will have forgotten), Amber Rudd, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Macron, Trump and the Queen. While one thinks more could have been made of the President’s cameo, Macron provides a much more clever slice of comedy, while the interaction between May and the Queen provokes a hilarious crack in the Prime Minister’s mask.

The cast is rounded out by Two Points Garage, Hackman, Dim Bee and The Mail. TPG, as he is later referred, is as brash a character as you would expect, but there’s real tension in his control over May. Hackman represents media complicity, while the Mail is probably the most well written role. He offers rare detachment, perfectly content in the knowledge of his own power.

The play also contains a multiplayer role for 3 characters who represent the public: the Junior Doctor Clown, the Cleaner Clown and the worker Clown.

Their inclusion felt uncomfortable. The only characters who attempt to use their fragile autonomy for good, and they’re considered clowns. Their names implicate them as another class of fools in politics. Hope and conviction makes them clowns. Perhaps this hurts only because it seems true. It seems a foregone conclusion to Uk leftists that few people will hope for change, and fewer will act on that hope in the voting booths. But directly comparing them, by just their class of character, to May, seems mean-spirited. Again, it would be helpful if I had access to the original production. Are these dressed as clowns too, in full regalia, or merely named as such?

As a reading experience, it’s the subtler jokes and intense monologues that make an impression. As for the performance, jokes which seem a little stale on the page might have been the perfect laughs for a communal audience. An audience which the play hinges on. May directly addresses them and pleads with, belittles, and implicates them in turn.

The play will retail as a physical book and e-book, in both a bonus edition and as a basic performance script. I was given the copy flush with interesting bonuses. These included a number of introductions to the play, earlier short ‘Emperor May’ and, a brilliant interview between Amie Marie and clown Conér Swords about their political performance art, and finally reviews from the initial performance run of the play.  

However, I questioned the formatting at times. The sheer volume of additional material before the play seems like overblown padding. It’s interesting to see how the more intelligent play evolved from a less polished short (which you can watch a brief introduction of here). The short is a bit sophomoric, however, and depending on whether you think its humour lands it may predispose you against the longer play rather than show you just how much the latter developed.

Finally, the formatting and editing of the copy I received really let the content down. Certain images are copied to back-to-back and spelling and grammar issues are frequent annoyances. This carelessness shows a lack of respect to Marie’s material. I can only hope that she goes on to have more opportunities as a creator, and her later material has the support of publishers who give it the dignity it deserves.

The play is available to buy in multiple formats here.

An Interview with Writer Neil Bebber

In our latest Playwright interview Director of Get the Chance Guy O’Donnell chats to Wales based Playwright Neil Bebber. Neil discusses his career to date, his latest project “Short Stories for Stressed Grown-Ups” and his thoughts on opportunities for Playwrights in Wales.

Hi Neil great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

Hello! I’m a playwright, screenwriter, copywriter and graphic designer. I enjoy cycling, sea swimming, hiking at night under star-stuffed skies, endlessly scrolling though Netflix trying to find something good to watch, cooking (though my recent attempts at culinary genius have fallen short) and playing online Scrabble with strangers. For the record, I haven’t lost a game. Yet.

So, what got you interested in the arts?

Pantomime. Probably. I remember the feeling I had watching a school panto when I was maybe ten years old. The Seven Dwarves had left for the day to hi-ho off to work and Snow White was left alone in the space. A sequence followed where she just made the most of having the space to herself and I was transfixed.

From an early age, I was curious about the world. Talking to people as soon as I could talk. Asking “why” even more than most other kids. That question can take a child either way. Science allows us to understand how something works. The arts allow us to explore how something makes us feel. I’m a combination of the two. But, having turned down a potentially lucrative career in banking, in favour of a poorly-paid graphic design “apprenticeship” (that’s a whole other story!) I’d chosen my path.

Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas come from?

I used to fool myself into believing the romantic notion that I could only write when I was wallowing in a pool of self-indulgent pity, but I now realise that’s not true. I don’t know who said it, but writers write. So, the most important part of the process is to start by writing something.

It’s a cliché, but it is a muscle. And the more you do it, the easier it gets. And the more addictive it is. On the many courses I’ve been on, the forensic detail of process has been useful, but I’ve always got more from the automatic writing exercises. It’s a great way to unlock the unconscious mind and discover those seeds lurking in there between the teeth of doubt.

And I make a lot of notes. The romance of a notepad and fountain pen has been superseded by the iphone, but I’m glad that, should I ever hit a pothole on my bike and find myself flattened by an oncoming bus, nobody will ever get to access my notes. There’s a lot of strange musings there. Today I wrote a paragraph about how a crow, battered by the wind, seemed to be perfectly content to walk across the road sideways. And how that might serve as a metaphor. But I don’t know what for yet.

GULL, the play recently read on Zoom by the brilliant The Far Away Plays came about like that. A note about watching gulls rip apart bin bags and hungrily tuck into a pile of used nappies. The revulsion fed the atmosphere of the play.

In terms of dialogue, I believe that writing good dialogue is more about listening than writing. Before our freedoms were curtailed by a microscopic enemy, I used to sit in a lot of coffee shops, just listening to exchanges and watching people’s body language. In recent years, I probably haven’t been the best company, socially, choosing to observe and makes notes, rather than get involved.

Can you describe your writing day? Do you have a process or a minimum word count?

Writing days vary depending on the project. I’m also lucky enough to be able to supplement an artist’s income with commercial copywriting. But, either way, I start early. Check emails, social media between 8 and 8.30 and then make a start on the writing. At the moment I’m in the process of editing an audio play for a competition, writing a new speculative TV drama and also writing, recording and editing my stories for my YouTube channel, “Short Stories for Stressed Grown-Ups”.

Producing my own work has also made me realise the amount of time that’s needed for its design and promotion. The “Short Stories…” project needed to have an eye-catching brand, as well as accompanying visuals for each story. And all of this needs to be shared with the online world. I hope I’m finding the balance between, “oh, that’s interesting, I’m so glad he let me know” and “for God’s sake, not another post about his bloody stories!” If there’s anyone brave enough out there, do let me know!

Why and where do you write? 

I write because I have something to say. About something I‘ve seen or something I’ve heard. Or something I feel passionately about.

I write because it’s a compulsion. A bit of an addiction. Especially when I get to see how an audience responds to it, good or bad. Maybe that’s some deep-seated need for validation. But then maybe that’s why any artist creates anything.

I write because it helps me repair. Relax. Forget. Make sense of a world (or of people) I don’t always understand.

I write because it’s satisfying and often surprising to be taken on a journey by imaginary characters, into unfamiliar scenarios and behaviours.

In terms of where I write, I can write anywhere. As long as I have something to balance a laptop on and a reasonably comfortable chair to sit on, I can write. There’s no ritual, no lucky desk or chair of inspiration. So, the photo is of a number of places where I could easily write. And the list is always being added to…

You are a prolific writer working across multiple mediums and forms. How has the Covid-19 Pandemic affected you and your creative process?

It was clear from the beginning that the lockdown, and the continuing response to a global pandemic, was going to fundamentally change a world that relied on the physical gathering of human beings in close proximity, whether audience or performer.

But, pretty early on, I saw an opportunity to get work out to a wider audience. Admittedly, it’s not the same experience as sitting in a studio theatre, tightly-packed with an appreciative audience, breathing the same air and having a collective experience.

When Jordan Bernarde contacted me about re-staging BREATHE (to avoid him climbing the walls during the first lockdown), after a short and successful run at The Bread & Roses the year before, I jumped at the chance. And it’s success has shown that there’s an audience for online theatre.

Theatres talk a lot about diversifying their audience base and this provides the perfect opportunity to do just that. Anyone who might previously have been intimidated by physically visiting a venue, can now watch a performance online and maybe discover that it isn’t the inaccessible, exclusive experience they may have expected. And, from a writer’s perspective, there’s an entire planet’s worth of connected people looking for content. The challenge is standing out amongst the noise!

From my own point of view, there’s been a shift towards demand for more audio drama. I’ve been working on a new play for the Papatango prize, which this year will be awarded to three audio works. And I was commissioned at the end of last year to write a multiple choice audio drama, which would be navigated purely through using Alexa. Exciting stuff!

One of your latest initiatives is the new new YouTube-based spoken word project, ‘Short Stories for Stressed Grown-ups’

You’ve written a number of short stories, which you’ve also narrated yourself. This is how you’ve described the project: 

“Remember when you were a kid? And how it felt to be all tucked up and have a story read to you? What a shame that, as adults, we don’t get to enjoy the sheer, indulgent escapism of those moments anymore. Well, now that’s changed. Short Stories for Stressed Grown-ups by Neil Neil is now live! So all you have do is find somewhere quiet, where you won’t be disturbed, and listen to an original short story that will transport you from the troubles of your day. 

Whether you use it to help you get off to sleep, or to re-set in the middle of a busy day, every story is written just for you.”

What response have you had to this new area of writing and storytelling?

The short stories were a suggestion by a producer friend of mine, Simon Regan, who I’d worked with on an arts podcast, EVOLUTIONS, shortly before the pandemic kicked off

I was frustrated at the time it took to get work “out there” so he suggested I might do it myself.

I researched the short story market, as well as potential gaps in provision for audio content and I thought a combination of meditative and escapist character-based short stories, narrated in the style of a bedtime story, might work.

The response has been really encouraging. The audience has been very frank about what’s working and what isn’t, the real-time feedback giving me an opportunity to modify the style and content of each new story. I’m also keen to interact with the audience, using names for characters taken from contents pages and maybe asking for suggestions on story ideas and destinations.

It’s great to know, too, that these stories are temporarily distracting people from the stresses of their day and, in some cases, helping them sleep. I’m hoping my voice doesn’t have the same effect during face-to-face conversations, when we return to the “real” world!

In November your latest play GULL was read online by the team at The Far Away Plays. We think the Far Away Plays have been one of the highpoints of creative activity in Wales during the Pandemic. Have you had an opportunity to listen to any of the other Far Away Plays, play readings?  And how was it to have your latest play produced on Zoom?

GULL was originally scheduled to be performed at WMC’s Ffwrnes Scratch night in March 2020, but then the world plunged into chaos. So I was thrilled when The Far Away Plays chose it for one of their online performances late last year. Their commitment to getting work out to online audiences, as well as dealing with all the logistical stages in between, has been immense.

I was also excited to be able to cast three incredible RWCMD alumni. Luke Nunn, Cecilia Appiah and Meredith Lewis were just some of the standout actors from 2020 and it was a real privilege to witness their brilliantly instinctive and nuanced performances, especially given the limited time they had to rehearse.

The director James O’Donnell also deserves a special mention. Having put a callout on social media for a director at late notice, James answered the call. The way he was able to take a potentially static medium and turn it into such a dynamic performance was miraculous. I always get really nervous before any production of my work, but it was clear within minutes that GULL was in safe hands, so I was actually able to sit back and enjoy it!

I’m waiting to hear from FAP if there’s a recording I might be able to share with all of the Artistic Directors who weren’t able to make it, because, as good as it was to see the work performed online, this play would (and this team!) clearly work brilliantly on stage.

There are a range of organisations supporting Welsh and Wales-based writers, I wonder if you feel the current support network and career opportunities feel ‘healthy’ to you? Is it possible to sustain a career as a writer in Wales and if not what would help?

“Healthy” might be a misleading term. The opportunities are available, but I wonder how writers are made aware of them. For opportunities, my go-to is BBC Writer’s Room Opportunities page. Then I check London Playwrights, which is another brilliant resource. I’m not sure if there’s a central database for opportunities in Wales. If not, it would be great to have one, where all aspects of writing were covered, plays, films, TV, etc.

Also, there are a number of theatres offering writer’s courses and residences, but there are rarely the resources available to sustain the momentum, once they’ve happened. I’ve been on three writer’s courses and one residency and none of these led to a tangible, ongoing relationship with the respective theatres.

In terms of sustaining a writing career, I think it’s important to diversify. I’m lucky to also be a freelance copywriter and graphic designer, but, even if I was commissioned to write three plays a year, the income generated wouldn’t be enough to sustain a family, mortgage and other regular day-to-day commitments. From what I can gather, to make any sort of living, TV writing seems to the way forward. Ideally I’d like to be able to do a bit of everything, though, as I’ve been lucky enough to so far.

If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?

I think a TV writing academy would be a valid investment now. As Wales becomes used increasingly as a destination for production, and companies like Bad Wolf continue to thrive, a joined up, sustained TV writing “lab” could help nurture home-grown talent and ensure Wales was increasingly self contained, moving forward. Especially given the increase in demand for content from online providers like Netflix and Prime.

Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner from production company Bad Wolf 

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

Diversity. The sheer extent of opportunities to make and view art for a country with a reasonable small population. I’m hesitant to use the term, “punching above its weight”. Oh, too late. I have.

And then there’s always the occasional parallel universe curveball of one of Tactile Bosch’s performance art nights. That’s what first made me realise I was living in a capital city. Ah, I miss Kim Fielding. What a lovely man.

Image Credit Emmageliot’s Blog

What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?

There are so many things that have either left me speechless, laugh uncontrollably or made me cry, sometimes all at the same time.

I remember sitting down in my office (in the middle of the first lockdown), with headphones on, to watch Complicite’s “The Encounter”, and feeling within minutes as if I’d been transported to another world, by both the performance and its remarkable aural soundscape. Not sure if it’s still available to view online, but there’s more, here:

Charlie Kaufmann’s “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” (on Netflix), whilst sometimes being incomprehensible, felt like a pure artist’s vision, unimpeded by the demands of people-pleasing. Maybe the best art is selfish. And this felt like that. But in the best possible way.

And no conversation (I say conversation, though this has all been a bit one way) with me goes without a music mention. The Dandy Warhols’ 13 Tales from Urban Bohemia has been my favourite album for years. And at the end of last year, they performed a live stream of it, in its entirety, for the first time. For that hour, I was there, front and centre, dancing like a kid in a sweet shop. The sweets being the songs. But not in jars. Obviously.

Anyway, that’s three. Because there’s never any shortage of great things to share.

Thanks for your time

And thank you for this brilliant opportunity to ramble.

Review: Brothersong by TJ Klune by Sian Thomas

Please note review includes spoilers.

This book is a phenomenal climax to an already incredibly built series. This last book, Brothersong, capitalises on everything that the previous books – Wolfsong, Ravensong, Heartsong (and short stories Lovesong and Feralsong) have laid as a foundation.



I was beyond excited for this book to come out. Having read the first three books and the two short stories, I knew I was in for something amazing. I bought it as soon as I possibly could, but unfortunately had to backlog the book to prioritise some work for university. In mid-January however, I hit a vicious wall of both reader’s and writer’s block and couldn’t focus on any uni work put in front of me, and it took this for the idea to hit me: allow yourself to read TJ Klune’s Brothersong. It was a double edged sword: I knew I would devour the book and that this would spur me on in my own creative attempts, but I also knew that, being the last book, it would all be over as soon as I was finished. I thought that this would hinder me, but it didn’t. I finished the book over three evenings, I kept the story as my own for bedtime relaxation, although the “relaxation” part was assuredly difficult.

This was because the book is devastating. TJ Klune’s writing in this series is absolutely unmatched, no author has made me cry quite like this author has! I can only wish I had the skill to compare to it. Especially considering that this book builds on top of every relationship explored in the previous texts, every sentence you read digs deeper and deeper into your heart, and when that’s the case, the more something hurts when things go wrong for the characters.

In this book, our main character is Carter Bennett. In the previous books, main characters have changed to allow for the focus of the overall story to become more varied and be explored from a number of different angles. I think this was an excellent decision for TJ Klune to make: every character you come across is greatly fleshed out, and you get to intimately understand their connection to everyone, from four different points of view. The main cast are so interconnected that they work like one big family, and a lot of them are family, so a lot of the time the emotions behind these connections are charged with love and the desire to protect their own. Seeing as this is also a family of werewolves, the desire to protect their own is tripled, quadrupled, and beyond. The focus of the novels have always been on these werewolves and whatever “evil” they are up against – oftentimes fighting to protect their home, the civilians of Green Creek, and each other – but that doesn’t mean that they don’t take their losses, as well. There is enough tension in this book to build a house; a lot of “will they, won’t they” between our two main focuses – Carter Bennett and Gavin, and a growing feeling of unease and discomfort growing from the “bad guys”. The main antagonist, who has been a “bad guy” across each story, is Robert Livingstone – Gavin’s father (also Gordo’s father, another character in the series who is the main character in the second novel, Ravensong) which, quite expectantly creates tension between the main cast. What I think is amazing about this, though, is that the sons, Gavin and Gordo, are given time to process this, react to it, understand it and how it affects them, and lastly, at the very end of the novel when they successfully kill Robert Livingstone, Gavin and Gordo are shown burying his body and quietly grieving their loss, which every other character is shown to be completely understanding of, and completely welcoming of. The two sons are not chastised for their decision to do this, but are rather encouraged, and I thought that was a phenomenal writing decision on TJ Klune’s part. Bridging this gap between “good guys” and “bad guys” was lovely to see, and really elevates the book into maturity instead of being another “good-guys-kill-bad-guys-easy-peasy-no-remorse-no-thought” YA type of book, which is so refreshing to see, and I loved it.

For years now, Ox has been my favourite character. He was the main character in the first book, Wolfsong, and he was a lovely character. Transforming from a shy, quiet kid, into an Alpha with a powerful presence was amazing to see, it was like watching someone you love grow up. Through the next two books it was clear that there were things going on with Ox behind the scenes that we the readers did not have access to since we were following a different character with a different story being more important to them. This was an amazing tactic, and I really was in awe of it. Creating this mystery in turn created an unmatchable hype for the last book where we would finally realise what has been happening behind closed doors and get clued back into what Ox has been thinking this entire time. When the first little hints of self-sacrifice started to get peppered throughout the book, I was nervous, as I’m sure many other readers were. In the first book, towards the very end, Ox is very nearly killed before being turned into a werewolf to save his life. I had thought, initially, that I’d just read another book by some guy who had built up so much emotion only to fall into the “bury your gays” trope (Ox is bisexual, and discovered his love for another man – Joe – through the first book). When, in this last book, he was stabbed viciously through the stomach, I was terrified as I didn’t know of any in-universe way to save him and worried again, that after all this time, we had come on such a long journey just to trip and fall at the very end. Luckily, gratefully, I was wrong. I would give all of my trust to TJ Klune for the way that he treats his characters with such respect and love makes me feel so relaxed, and welcome into any of his worlds.

Admittedly, having discussed a lot of details from a lot of the series, this next statement might be considered redundant, but I will still stand by it: this series is one to experience, not one to read about second hand. This is the kind of series that you need to read for yourself, not reading about what I read and what I think. This book, this series, deserves more than 5 stars for the absolutely amazing effort it puts in, the story it tells, and the connections it makes. This really is a fantastic series, and TJ Klune deserves every piece of praise he gets for it.

Sian Thomas

“Get the Chance has not only given me a voice – it has given me the space, the opportunity and the confidence to use it.”

In the article below members of the Get the Chance team share why the work of Get the Chance is important to them and their lives.

You can make a donation to support the work of Get the Chance here

Guy O’Donnell, Volunteer Director

Hi my name is Guy O’Donnell and I am the director of Get the Chance. In this short article our team share with you how vital Get the Chance is to them and their lives. If you can support our work, please donate at the link above.

Get the Chance is a social enterprise based in South Wales. We are Wales based with an international outlook. We work to create opportunities for a diverse range of people, to experience and respond to sport, art, culture and live events. We use our online magazine website as a platform to showcase our members activities. We provide a fantastic opportunity to develop cultural critical voices and ensure that people from certain groups of society, people that are often forgotten or unheard, are given a platform to share, review and discuss their lives and critique work in a public platform.

Not only have we supported conversations about the arts and culture in Wales, but we’ve also broken-down barriers and asked questions about who actually gets to critique art. It is this democratisation of criticism that is crucial to a healthy and thriving artistic community that listens to everyone. Thank you.

Gemma Treharne-Foose, Volunteer Director and Critic.

Hi, my name is Gemma Treharne-Foose. I’m a board member and volunteer with Get the Chance. We’re a community of volunteers, activists and enthusiasts dedicated to expanding the reach of arts, culture and sports in Wales. At Get the Chance, we exist to create a space and a platform for people to participate, engage in and respond to theatre, arts and culture. In particular, we help people who are perhaps traditionally hard to reach and support them to access and experience these spaces.

Part of the work we do with our community is to encourage and support them to build up their skills, responding to, vlogging about, and writing about their experiences accessing arts, theatre and culture, and also helping them access particular schemes and initiatives with partner organisations.

At the moment the arts and live event industries in Wales are hurting and they’re struggling right now as they try to access support and gain audiences in these uncertain times. I believe this is an arts emergency and I want part of my work with Get the Chance to support the industry to get back on its feet again and to get audiences enjoying live events and theatre again.

If you also want to support and highlight Welsh theatre, arts and culture then I’d encourage you to get involved. Let’s shine a light on the amazing work happening right now in Wales. The show must go on!

Barbara Michaels, Volunteer Critic.

As one of the most senior reviewers who has known Guy O’Donnell for many years, I can’t stress enough how important it is that Get the Chance continues to support the youngsters who want to become involved in the arts, many of them with the aim of a career in the media.

During the time over the years I’ve been reviewing, I’ve been really impressed by the young people who are coming up into the ranks, who have become very knowledgeable and very enthusiastic about their involvement with theatre. Unless we get some financial support, it’s going to be so difficult to continue with an organisation like Get the Chance which does so much good, giving opportunities to young people who wouldn’t have them.

With the cost of seeing the performances of opera and ballet and theatre rising, and inevitably it is going to rise more, it is absolutely vital that we have some support both financially and in all aspects of an organisation like Get the Chance. Thank you.

Kevin B Johnson, Volunteer Critic

Hi my name is Kevin, I work in an office, I like long walks on sunny beaches and I’m Sagittarius. Apart from that, I’m a member of Get the Chance because I like seeing new shows, new films and sharing them with other people, bringing my discoveries to others and getting a chance to view them. I like to highlight what I love about the shows that I’ve seen.

Becky Johnson, Volunteer Critic

Hi my name is Becky Johnson and I’m a member of Get the Chance. I’m actually a freelance dance artist based in Cardiff and I’m a member of Get the Chance alongside that. So with my practice I tend to create work, I tend to perform and I tend to teach, and a big part of me being an artist is making sure that I can see as much work as possible and then also understand the wider perspectives, on not only dance but also the arts in general and the things that are going on in our current climate and our local area.

So with having Get the Chance alongside of it, it allows me to access these different things and to get opportunities to see these, which I wouldn’t necessarily financially be able to do otherwise. Also, it allows me to have that time dedicated to just look at these things analytically and also just to really try and understand what is going on in what I’m watching and what I’m seeing, rather than just watching it and acknowledging what’s happening. Writing with Get the Chance gives me an opportunity to use my voice to promote the things that I really care about and things I’m passionate about, the things I think need to be highlighted, whether that’s something that’s problematic that I see in a show or something that I think’s wonderful that needs to be shown more of and we need to see more of.

Another opportunity that I’ve had recently which has been amazing is the opportunity to interview people that I’m very proud to have had the opportunity to speak to and to be able to give them a voice to speak about their platform and what they’re doing. This is really important to me as a lot of these issues are very important and very close to home and I think it’s something that without this platform I wouldn’t be able to do.

I’ve always loved writing, it’s something that I did always want to pursue but by being a member of Get the Chance I’ve been able to continue my writing in a way that’s still linked with my practice. It means that I can find the balance of both of these feeding each other. I’m really grateful for having this opportunity.

Leslie R Herman, Volunteer Critic

Get the Chance has been one of the ways I’ve been able to maintain a connection to the arts and culture in Wales. I’m writing this message from New York City. It is mid-August 2020. I’ve been unable to get back to Wales due to the Covid pandemic and the global lockdown. Not only am I really missing Wales, I’m missing connection, to people, to places and to the arts and culture that I’ve grown to love and live for – arts and culture that have helped me thrive throughout my life.

At the moment it really feels like we’re all of us spinning in our own orbits and cyberspace is our most vital tool but if that’s all we’ve got, I’m afraid it’s way too nebulous for me. I need to feel more grounded.

Get the Chance really has given me the opportunity to get grounded and to connect to people, to the arts, to culture. It’s given me the opportunity to mentor young people and it’s given me the opportunity to extend and rebuild my own career. What’s marvellous about get the chance is its open and flexible approach to giving people a chance to connect to culture. Why don’t you give Get the Chance a chance?

Beth Armstrong, Volunteer Critic

Hi! My name’s Beth. I’m 24, and I’m from Wrexham, North Wales, and I’m currently training to be a primary school teacher. I’m a member of Get the Chance because it allows me to watch a great range of theatre performances which I wouldn’t normally get to see due to financial reasons, and also allows me to see a really diverse range of different kinds of theatre which I think is great for expanding my knowledge and experience of theatre in general.

Having my work published online is a great opportunity for me because it allows me to have a wide audience for my writing, and it also allows me to engage with other reviewers and read their work as well, so it’s a really fantastic opportunity.

Samuel Longville, Volunteer Critic

When I left university, Get the Chance was a really amazing, creative outlet for me. I was able to see so much theatre for free which would have been really difficult at the time, having left university as a not very well-off student. I was working a quite tedious nine-to-five job at the time so Get the Chance really served as that kind of creative outlet for me, allowing me to see as much theatre as possible, and not only to see it but to think about it critically and write reviews about it. So it really let me utilise the things I’d learned on my drama course at university.

I’m soon to start an MA in Arts Management at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and I think, without Get the Chance, my enthusiasm possibly could have wavered over the past year, and I still may be stuck doing the same nine-to-five job that I was previously doing. So I really can’t thank Guy and Get the Chance enough for all the opportunities they gave me over the past year.

Helen Joy, Volunteer Critic

Hi! My name is Helen Joy, and I’m here to talk a little bit about my experiences with Guy O’Donnell and his extraordinary Get the Chance. I joined Get the Chance as a 3rd Act Critic when it started, which is a couple of years ago now, and I was a little less grey(!), and it has given me the most extraordinary opportunities that I would not have had the opportunity to take otherwise. For example, I was able to go to the Opera regularly, something I never thought I’d be able to do or that I would enjoy. I’ve been a keen follower of modern dance – ditto, never thought I’d do that – and it’s also given me the chance to really think about how I evaluate things.

So, for example, much more recently, I was given the chance to interview Marvin Thompson. I think this gave me one of the biggest challenges I’ve had for a long time. He, and the experience of planning and conducting an interview, and recording it visually and hourly on Zoom, made me really think about, not just how I wanted to react to him and to his work, but how I felt about it.

Often, I fall into a particular category: of the classic middle-aged, white, educated woman, where the opportunities are already ours, and we’re very lucky with that, but we’re also quite a silent group. People don’t really want to hear what we’ve got to say, which is why we tend to shout it from the rooftops I think; or why, equally, we disappear into the aisles of supermarket. This has given me and my colleagues tremendous opportunities to re-find our voices and to share them, to listen to what other generations have to say. It’s been a really important experience for me. Long may it continue. Thank you!

Barbara Hughes-Moore, Volunteer Critic.

My name is Barbara Hughes-Moore, and I recently completed my Doctorate in Law and Literature at Cardiff School of Law and Politics on Gothic Fiction and Criminal Law. So by day, I’m a scholar, a reviews editor, and a research assistant; and by night, I write longer retrospective pieces on film and television through a gothic and criminal lens on my personal blog.

I’m a member of Get the Chance because its mission is all about increasing the visibility of, and accessibility to, the arts for everyone. Since becoming a member, I have attended and reviewed numerous theatre productions at the Sherman Theatre, the New Theatre, and Chapter Arts Centre. I’ve been a featured speaker on the Sherman Theatre’s post-show panels. And, more recently, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing director Alison Hargreaves on her short film Camelot for the Uncertain Kingdom Anthology. Most importantly of all, Get the Chance has not only given me a voice – it has given me the space, the opportunity, and the confidence to use it.

Gareth Williams, Volunteer Critic

Hi! My name is Gareth. I am 29 years old and I live in North East Wales, and I’ve been asked to say why I’m a member of Get the Chance, and I want to answer by slightly rephrasing the question in order to say what Get the Chance means to me. And first of all, it means having the opportunity to respond to the arts in Wales; to contribute to the discussion around arts and culture in Wales; and to engage with various art forms.

To that end, it is an opportunity to support and promote artists and organisations, particularly those that I’m passionate about. So for me, that looks like theatre, particularly the work of Theatr Clwyd in Mold; music – I’m a fan of country music, and it’s great to be able to showcase Welsh country music talent on the Get the Chance website – and TV drama. Welsh TV drama is going through a bit of a golden age at the moment, and it’s great to be able to be a part of that as somebody who critically reviews these shows as a writer.

I’ve always been much better at writing than speaking. I’ve never been very good at expressing an opinion though because of low self-esteem and confidence. But being a member of Get the Chance has given me an opportunity to express an opinion. It’s increased my self-esteem and my confidence to speak about how I feel about the things that I see and watch and listen to and engage with. And I think, for me, that is the most important thing about being a member of Get the Chance: that opportunity to express an opinion which, a couple of years ago, I would not have had the confidence to do.

Sian Thomas, Volunteer Critic

Hi! My name is Sian. The main reason I joined Get the Chance is because I love reading and I’ve always loved reading, and I really like having a definitive place where I can put down my thoughts on any piece of media and see people respond in so many different ways, and even the authors of the books that I’ve reviewed responding in so many different ways as well. It’s really lovely to have that kind of freedom of expression and I really value being a member.

Amina Elmi, Volunteer Critic

I am a member of Get the Chance because it gives me a platform where I can speak my mind . It allows me to give my opinion and being able to do so enables me to explore the media, the news and whatever preferred genre or medium of entertainment I want.

When it was introduced to me I was into writing and that has helped shape what dreams and ideals I have while also keeping my writing skills at a solid, good level. I am fortunate to be a part of Get The Chance because it has given me opportunities that I would not have had otherwise.

Hannah Goslin, Volunteer Critic

I am a member of Get the Chance because theatre and the arts is what I eat, live and breath. To be able to connect with fellow performers, practitioners, critics and journalists is a wonderful chance to learn, be inspired and to network.

Ffilmiau Cwmni Dawns Cenedlaethol Cymru a Llenyddiaeth Cymru wedi’u comisiynu ar gyfer Cymru yn yr Almen 2021.

Prosiect traws-gelfyddyd Plethu/Weave yn cael ei ymestyn i 2021

Mae Plethu/Weave, cywaith traws-gelfyddyd digidol Cwmni Dawns Cenedlaethol Cymru (CDCCymru) a Llenyddiaeth Cymru, wedi cael ei ymestyn i 2021 ac wedi cael ei gomisiynu i fod yn rhan o lansiad blwyddyn Cymru yn yr Almaen 2021 Llywodraeth Cymru.

Yn dilyn llwyddiant cywaith traws-gelfyddyd CDCCymru a Llenyddiaeth Cymru, bydd Plethu/Weave #2 yn cael ei lansio ym mis Ionawr 2021, gan gynnig rhagor o gyfleoedd i ddawnswyr annibynnol wedi’u lleoli yng Nghymru gael eu paru â rhai o feirdd mwyaf talentog Cymru i greu wyth o ffilmiau digidol, byr, cyfoes a chyffrous ar-lein.


Bydd ffilm gyntaf Plethu/Weave #2Aber Bach, a grëwyd gan Mererid Hopwood a dawnsiwr CDCCymru, Elena Sgarbi, yn cael ei rhyddhau ar 11 Ionawr, fel y cyntaf o dri chomisiwn CDCCymru a Llenyddiaeth Cymru sydd yn rhan o lansiad blwyddyn Cymru yn yr Almaen Llywodraeth Cymru.


Yn 2020,parodd Plethu/Weave bedwar dawnsiwr o CDCCymru a phedwar artist dawns annibynnol gydag wyth o feirdd gyda’r nod o greu wyth ffilm fer ar gyfer cynulleidfaoedd ar-lein. Creodd y parau hyn weithiau traws-gelfyddyd sydd wedi’u hysbrydoli gan straeon, lleoliad, treftadaeth a chysylltiad yr artistiaid eu hunain â Chymru. 


Caiff Aber Bach ei enw ar ôl bae yng ngorllewin Cymru, lle gellir clywed synau melin wlân a’r môr. Ceir ‘Aber’ a ‘Bach yn y Gymraeg a’r Almaeneg, ond gydag ystyron gwahanol. O’r syniad hwn y daw’r ffilm – a gafodd ei ffilmio ym Melin Wlân Melin Tregwynt yn Sir Benfro, a’i chreu ar y cyd â Rufus Mufasa, Hanan Issa a Tim Volleman – ac mae’nn archwilio sut y gallwn blethu geiriau i greu patrymau newydd o berthyn.

Dywedodd dawnsiwr CDCCymru, Elena Sgarbi, “Mae gweithio ar yr ail gynhyrchiad o’r prosiect ffilm Plethu/Weave gyda Mererid Hopwood a Tim Volleman wedi bod yn gyfle gwych i ennill dealltwriaeth well o Gymru a’i diwylliant. Trwy frwdfrydedd Mererid i rannu ei diwylliant a’r prosiect hwn, ces gyfle i ddod i adnabod cornel brydferth o ogledd Sir Benfro drosof fy hun, a’i thraddodiad gwehyddu gwlân pwysig.”

Mae gan CDCCymru hanes o deithio i’r Almaen ers 2017, gan berfformio i gynulleidfaoedd yn bennaf yng Ngogledd Rhein-Westphalia, Bafaria a Baden-Württemberg.

Dywedodd y Prif Weithredwr, Paul Kaynes, “Rydym yn falch iawn y bydd CDCCymru yn cyflwyno dawns fel rhan o lansiad Cymru yn yr Almaen Llywodraeth Cymru. Rydym wedi bod yn datblygu ein henw da a chynulleidfaoedd yn Ewrop, yn enwedig yn yr Almaen a gwledydd cyfagos dros y tair blynedd diwethaf, gan berfformio i leoliadau dan eu sang gyda chryn gymeradwyaeth. Mae’n deimlad cyffrous iawn i ni ein bod wedi cael ein comisiynu i greu y ffilmiau Plethu/Weave hyn, fel bod rhagor o gynulleidfaoedd gartref a thramor yn gallu gweld dau gwmni celfyddydol cenedlaethol o Gymru yn cydweithio.”

Bydd y ddau gomisiwn Plethu/Weave #2 arall sydd yn rhan o raglen Cymru yn yr Almaen yn cael eu darlledu ym mis Mawrth ac ym mis Hydref, gan arddangos gwaith y bardd Alex Wharton a’r artistiaid dawns Krystal S. Lowe ac Osian Meilir.

Dywedodd Lleucu Siencyn, Prif Weithredwr Llenyddiaeth Cymru, “Mae Llenyddiaeth Cymru yn falch iawn o gael mewn partneriaeth â CDCCymru unwaith yn rhagor ar rownd arall o’r prosiect arloesol hwn, ac i gael dathlu ein diwylliant llenyddol ac artistig gyda’r byd fel rhan o raglen Cymru yn yr Almaen.”

Dywedodd Jane Hutt, y Dirprwy Weinidog a’r Prif Chwip: “Mae blwyddyn Cymru yn yr Almaen yn ymwneud â chryfhau’r cysylltiadau rhwng y ddwy genedl ac adeiladu rhai newydd, ac mae gan y sector celfyddydol ran bwysig i’w chwarae. Mae ein celfyddydau, diwylliant a chreadigrwydd yn rhoi i Gymru ei phersonoliaeth unigryw ac mae’n gryfder mawr yn nhermau hyrwyddo Cymru ar lwyfan y byd.

“Rydym yn falch iawn o fod yn gweithio â CDCCymru a Llenyddiaeth Cymru ar y prosiect cyffrous hwn ac yn edrych ymlaen at arddangos gwaith rhai o’n beirdd a dawnswyr mwyaf talentog i gynulleidfaoedd yr Almaen yn y flwyddyn i ddod.”

Bydd Aber Bach, y comisiwn Plethu/Weave #2 cyntaf ar gyfer Cymru yn yr Almaen yn cael ei ddarlledu fel rhan o’r lansiad digidol ar sianeli cyfryngau cymdeithasol Llywodraeth Cymru ar 11 Ionawr. Bydd Aber Bachar gael ar wefannau a sianeli cyfryngau cymdeithasol CDCCymru a Llenyddiaeth Cymru o 12 Ionawr ymlaen.

Am ragor o wybodaeth, ewch i ndcwales.co.uk