Category Archives: Music

Creativity Rocks the Arts Factory, MaDCaff 2020 By Ann Davies

Take me back to the days when we were never alone – well, let’s see, it was the month of March when creativity rocked the Arts Factory in Ferndale and we were altogether. The scene had been set in 2019 when the forward looking company Avant Cymru introduced a MaDCaff evening event to The Factory in Porth as part of the FestYPorth celebrations. It sparked an idea for such an event to be held in the Rhondda Fach. Proposals for a venue were put forward and the nucleus began to evolve as the Arts Factory (the Trerhondda Chapel Arts Centre in Ferndale) took up the baton for it to be staged as a Community activity to raise funds for Mental Health.

A MaDCaff event is an experience which is encompassed in its very title

Music Dance and a Café

It is an open mic where people can perform or be entertained, pressure free with a quiet place to talk if required. With DAC (Disability Arts Cymru) and the Arts Factory volunteers, the evening became a cornucopia of colour as musicians assembled their electrical equipment and sound tested their instruments, dancers waited in anticipation of opening the event, whilst people bought Raffle Tickets on their arrival, sourced the Refreshment stand and marvelled at the artwork that had been kindly donated by local artist Carole Kratzke for the Art Auction.

The young dancers of Avant Cymru, coming from their recent performance at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff, blew caution to the wind with their energetic and exhilarating movements, incredibly intricate and jaw dropping showing the skills that they had been taught by Jamie Berry, a company Director of Avant Cymru, who, in January 2020 won the deserved accolade of Wales Creative Tutor of the Year bringing his distinctive talent to develop the health and wellbeing, through dance, to the Valleys.

Gaudy Orde announced their arrival with their usual toe tapping eclectic music with Jeff Japers (aka Andrew Powell) on the ukulele, keyboard and main vocals; Tall Joy (aka Joy Garfitt), Helen Spoons (aka Helen Probyn-Williams); James Parr – Superstar; Barry Sidings (aka Alex Coxhead) and Romany Bob (aka Andy Roberts) providing a surreal and distinctive experience of music, song and humour into an intoxicating mix as the evening progressed.

In turn Jeff Japers, as the evening’s Master of Ceremony, introduced the Nutz ‘n’ Bolts duo which normally consists of husband and wife team Dawn and Dave Hoban, but on this night we were invited to meet Jowan who sang with Dawn. It was an experience of emotions entwined harmonies and excellent guitar playing.

Les Allen, Linda Michele, Ann Davies and Anne Lord, who are members of the RCT Creative Writers Group, read selections from their 10th Anniversary publication “Handle with Care” ably supported by Members Jess Morgan, Gerhard Kress, Helen Probyn-Williams and Rachel Williams.  Jakey (12), our favourite therapy dog was present to ensure that everyone was feeling safe and well.

The interlude that followed included the results of the Raffle, closely followed by the Art Auction which had bids bouncing from every direction in the audience. The Open mic participation was offered to the audience as one of the young Avant Cymru dancers stepped forward to sing, closely followed by singer guitarist Lee Harvey from Aberdare. Talent can be found in quiet places as Josh and his “companion” dummy took up the Ventriloquist mantle for the night in a comedic conversation. The Bella Vista Coffee Club brought the house down with their jazz performance provided by Ann and Paul Hughes, Jim Barrett, Helen Probyn-Williams and Sally Churchill.

TimeLine a trio of local singers and musicians namely Nigel, Gary and Keith, opened the second half of the evening’s entertainment. Their songs were rich and melodious and the audience were soon joining in with the verses of the songs that brought back so many treasured memories.

Tricycle, comprising of Gerhard Kress, Paul Rosser and Michael Morton brought the event to a close with the atmospheric musical sounds of a fiddle combined with guitars alongside their passionate lyrics.

Louise Gaw, Project Coordinator for Changing People Changing Lives at the Arts Factory Ferndale introduced Sara Beer, South Wales Regional Officer of DAC (Disability Arts Cymru) to bring the evening to a close. Thanking all within the Arts Factory and DAC for their hard work in organising the event.  Goody Bags were given to people as they left including items from DAC. Gifts were kindly donated by Francesca Kay the noted WordArt, Poet and Letter Press professional from Hay on Wye, who is a friend of RCT Creative Writers Group

I would like to personally extend my appreciation to all who responded to the request for participants and to RCT Creative Group Members who supported me in arranging this event giving their time and energy freely to provide a true Noson Llawen Merry Night to remember for those who attended. 

We were all left with the memories of songs, music, dance, poetry and stories echoing the creative talent that is within the community.

Times have changed and we are now finding ourselves in an unprecedented situation.

WE are all the waves on the same sea, and at this moment we send each other a virtual hug with the message to stay safe and well.

MaDCaff maintains the talent of RCT.

With thanks and appreciation to
Sara Beer and Volunteers of Disability Arts Cymru
Louise Gaw and Volunteers of Arts Factory Ferndale
RCT Creative Writers Group Members especially Anne Jess Les Gerhard Helen and Rachel not forgetting Jakey
Carole Kratze
Francesca Kay
To photographers for their kind permission

Sara Mayo Gerhard Kress Anne Lord Jess Morgan
Open Mic performers 

Jamie Berry of Avant Cymru and dancers Jeff Japers for his Master of Ceremonies Gaudy OrdeNutz ‘n’ BoltzTimeLine Tricycle
and for all who gave their support for this event to raise funds for Mental Health

Diolch yn fawr iawn

Graduate Showcase Anna Billes

Many Welsh or Wales based arts graduates are finding this current period especially difficult. Their usual opportunities to meet agents, prepare for final year exhibitions or productions may take place later in the year or sadly not at all. To raise awareness of the diverse talent graduating this year GTC is offering any Welsh or Wales based graduate the opportunity to be showcased on our website. If you are interested, please do get in touch.

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

Hello Guy, of course! I have just graduated from my BA Hons Degree Course in Creative and Therapeutic Arts at The University of South Wales.

I have a background in Support Work, Drum Circle Facilitation and Therapeutic Work with the Touch Trust in Cardiff Bay, supporting participants who have a variety of needs to explore the Arts during sensory sessions. I am now going on to develop my business called ‘Young at HeArt’; supporting people of all ages and stages to explore the Arts in intuitive and creative ways. You can find out more about me at my website. Facebook or Instagram.

As part of my graduate, online art exhibition for the final year of my Creative and Therapeutic Arts Degree Course, I will be hosting an ‘Online Parade,’ based on the old folklore tale of Pontypridd’s River Taff. The ‘Online Parade’ will take place on May the 16th (2020) (arriving for 1:45pm) starting at 2pm.


So what got you interested in the arts?

I always enjoyed art in school. In fact, I went to a Steiner School from 14-18 years old. My education at the Steiner School in Edinburgh encouraged me to pursue art as my passion as everything we learned was taught in an arty and holistic way. 

Can you tell us about your creative process?

During my last three years at University, I have discovered that Community is my ‘Art’; my Arts practice revolves around the participants that I work with and their needs. I enjoy exploring the Arts in an intuitive sense, supporting my participants to shape our Arts sessions together in ways which suit them and their creative process. 

As a young Welsh artist graduating during a very difficult period what investment and support do you think is required to enable your career to develop and prosper?

Interestingly, I’m actually from Scotland in Edinburgh, although I studied my course in South Wales. At the moment my biggest question is “Where would I like to live next?” In a sense, the world feels like my oyster. I’m happy to go where the work leads me at this point. If someone was to offer me a Community Arts job, working with participants of all ages and stages in a holistic environment, I would be very happy with that! 

A range of arts organisation and individuals are now working online or finding new ways to reach out to audiences. Have you seen any particularly good examples of this way of working?

At the moment I am working on an online Arts project with Artis Community, exploring the mask making along the theme of ‘Your Inner Warrior.’ At the end of this project, once I have made a series of videos detailing how to make and what you can do with your ‘Warrior Mask,’ I will facilitate a ‘Masquerade Hour’ on Zoom. I’m really looking forward to this! 

I’ve also really enjoyed engaging with some of my drummer friends online. For example my friend Jane Bentley, Doctor of Music, has been working with ‘Luminate’ to show people at home how they can turn their living rooms into an orchestra made out of every day household items. 

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

I think I would fund more intergenerational projects; encouraging older adults and children to explore the Arts together and teach each other their own artistic skills. I am very passionate about working with intergenerational groups, as I think mixing the age groups can really encourage participants to try out new artistic mediums and most importantly, build positive friendships with each other. 

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

There seems to be so much going on in the South Wales creative scene! Through my University course I have connected with many amazing Arts professionals who are doing some very exciting and valuable work in hospitals, schools and communities. There seems to be lots of creative opportunities popping up all the time which is wonderful. 


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

Over the last year I have been working on a project called ‘The Heartbeat Project’ with Studio Response at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport; supporting children in hospital to create musical and artistic responses to their heartbeats which they heard through a stethoscope. While my participants played their responses to their heartbeats on djembe drums, bells, chimes and other percussion instruments, I recorded the them on my phone and then we listened back to the recorded sounds and painted what we heard onto a sheet of paper. I am currently in the process of also making a soundscape out of the sounds which I explored with each group of participants. This soundscape will be played in the Multifaith room in the new Grange Hospital in Cwmbran once it has been fully built.  

 Thanks for your time, Anna.

Graduate Showcase Francesca Waygood

Many Welsh or Wales based arts graduates are finding this current period especially difficult. Their usual opportunities to meet agents, prepare for final year exhibitions or productions may take place later in the year or sadly not at all. To raise awareness of the diverse talent graduating this year GTC is offering any Welsh or Wales based graduate the opportunity to be showcased on our website. If you are interested, please do get in touch.

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

Hello, thank you so much for this opportunity! I’m Francesca Waygood, 27 years old from Swansea. After completing a bachelor’s degree in Performing Arts in 2014, I decided to go into teaching and qualified as a lecturer, specialising in teaching performing arts. Although I loved lecturing, I felt I still had a lot more to learn about the performing arts industry; I truly believe the best teachers are ones who have a desire to keep learning and developing their own skillset and so I decided to gain more industry experience by furthering my studies with a masters degree. Today, I am studying at the Canolfan Berfformio Cymru (UWTSD Cardiff), for my Master’s in Musical Theatre. Musical theatre has always been my true love and so, I am very grateful for the opportunity to study here as my learning experiences so far have been invaluable!

You can see Francesca’s Spotlight link here

So, what got you interested in the arts?

My mum (a former dance teacher) initially taught me to dance. Some of my earliest memories are from around the age of 2, where my mum was teaching me good toes, naughty toes, step ball changes and splits in our living room! She enrolled me in ballet, jazz and tap dance classes soon after where I had the opportunity to attend workshops with Wayne Sleep. It was only when I joined the school choir, I became interested in singing. From there, I added musical theatre, singing and music theory lessons to my hobbies and completed exams in these areas. With this came shows and competitions, something which I always really enjoyed partaking in as a child.

Can you tell us about your creative process?

My creative process really depends on what specific skill I may be focussing on. During our course so far, we have had the opportunity to study the methodologies of Stanislavski and Misner. Both processes were totally different, allowing for new creative discoveries to be made each lesson. For example, within Misner, we looked at the use of repetition. I found this process very beneficial for learning text. With Stanislavski, we looked as various tools which included physicalising text with actions. Such methods I will now employ in future work.

As a young Welsh artist graduating during a very difficult period what investment and support do you think is required to enable your career to develop and prosper?

So many virtual opportunities have become available via Instagram and Twitter for artists. There have been so many performers from West End shows / UK tours offering workshops where you can learn choreography from the shows they are in. There have also been casting directors offering to provide feedback on CV’s and showreel material for a very small fee. Talent agencies have been so approachable, and many have specifically asked for un-represented graduates to contact them. I even had one agency who I spoke too, offer to share my details with other agency contacts and casting directors. Personally, I believe it is definitely worth getting involved in all the opportunities that are currently available to us!

A range of arts organisation and individuals are now working online or finding new ways to reach out to audiences. Have you seen any particularly good examples of this way of working?

I’ve seen so many musical theatre performers running online concert events, live from their homes, which audiences can buy tickets for. I think this is a great opportunity for us to support one and other, as well as admiring these amazingly talented performers.  I am also aware of organisations showing performances on their websites for public viewing – making theatre so accessible for everyone to be a part of!

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

I am a strong believer in incorporating more creative methods for learning into education. Everyone has a preferred way of learning; whether it be visual, audio, kinaesthetic or a mixture of these! During my bachelor’s degree, I studied a module called Applied Drama, where I facilitated at 7 primary schools in Swansea, taking elements of the curriculum and supplementing it with more creative features. For example, I can recall one school where the pupils were studying the Romans. Upon an initial meeting with the class teacher, an education pack was supplied which included a series of worksheets for the pupils to complete as part of their study of that topic. A co-facilitator and I leading the project decided to incorporate more performing arts based activates to accompany the pupils learning. For example, the pupils partook in role play exercises such as a Roman march and a roman battle. The pupils seemed to really respond to these activities as it offered a more balanced learning experience, suited to all their learning needs.

 What excites you about the arts in Wales?

From studying for my bachelor’s degree to where I am at now, I have met so many diverse creative people. The arts culture in Wales is constantly changing, it is not all about the larger scale theatres anymore. Some amazing work can be found in the smaller, less known creative spaces. My partner comes from a more contemporary theatre background and he has really opened my eyes to this.

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

Apart from watching Six the musical (UK tour) in Bath which was absolutely incredible, I would probably say performing in Nadolig Big Band Christmas with the university in December 2019 at the BBC Hoddinott Hall – such an incredible space and a wonderful experience for me as a musical theatre performer. Another would be having the opportunity to be a part of a choir recording some of the backing vocals for the film Dream Horse, set to be released later this year. Again, another wonderful opportunity.

Topt Tunes with Victoria Rogers

Hi Victoria,  great to meet you, can you tells us about yourself and your work?

Hello – I’m Victoria Rogers, the Manager of The Museum of Cardiff.  We’re the city history museum in the Old Library building in The Hayes.  We’ve only been open for 9 years, so in museum terms we’re a real new kid on the block.  I’ve been there right from the early days, when we were known as the Cardiff Museum Project and starting the first consultations about what the Cardiff public wanted their museum to be, way back in 2006. 

Before we opened, Cardiff had never had its own museum that told its own story, so getting the public involved was crucial.  They worked with us to co-create the museum and hundreds and hundreds of people were involved making the decisions about what stories to tell, what our galleries would look like and donating objects for the collection.

The museum is a real community focussed organisation – not just in the stories we tell but in all our activities.  I’m the strategic lead now, so I do a lot of fundraising and grant applications, and spend lots of time fostering new partnerships with organisations and community groups across the city and county so we can make sure more of Cardiff’s heritage and stories are celebrated.

 This chat is specifically about music and the role it has played in your personal and professional life. Firstly to start off what are you currently listening to? 

Ok, so the first thing to confess is that my musical taste is not at all credible.  My first record was Bucks Fizz (no joke!  Land of Make Believe…closely followed by If You Can’t Stand the Heat… I’ve still got them somewhere…) 

We’re speaking during the Covid-19 lockdown, so like a lot of people I’m working from home at the moment.  So actually, I’m listening a lot to the radio at the moment – partly for the music, partly for the company of a voice chatting to me in the corner of the room – BBC Six Music (not too bad) and Absolute ‘80s (not at all credible…embarrassingly so).  Music and singing have always been important to me and my family.  While my Grandfather was singing with the Pendyrus Male Voice Choir, I’m singing along to ‘80s cheesy pop while washing up…it’s honestly one of my favourite things to do.

We are interviewing a range of people about their own musical inspiration, can you list five records/albums which have a personal resonance to you and why? 

(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding

My all-time favourite song.  No idea when I first heard it, where I would have been, or how old I was but I’ve loved it for a long time.  Just really like the image it conjures up of sitting and watching the sea, again, one of my favourite things to do. 

The Red and Blue albums by The Beatles

Yes, a total cheat this, it’s basically their greatest hits albums – too many great songs to choose from!  I grew up with The Beatles, singing along to them with my father form a big chunk of my childhood memories (he was a massive fan and his record collection was basically their albums and singles).  I used to love looking at these albums, I was mesmerised by the photos of the Mersey-beat Beatles on the Red album and the hippy-era Beatles on the Blue one.  I’m guessing I wasn’t old enough to have any real concept that they had been taken years apart.  I was just fascinated by how they looked like they were the same people but they looked so very different.

Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morrissette

This is basically the soundtrack to my final year at University.  Wherever you went in the Student Village or on campus, you’d hear it coming from someone’s window.  It was released 25 years ago this year so I listened to it again not that long ago and it immediately transported me back to a year of spreading my wings, feeling independent for the first time, having my heart broken, fun (so much fun), having my heart mended, hopes and dreams for the future, meeting lifelong friends…

International Velvet by Catatonia

I’ve chosen this because it was the soundtrack to the year I spent in Nottingham doing my Museum Studies masters.  It was the height of Cŵl Cymru and this was my first experience of living out of Wales, so to this ex-pat, having Welsh bands like Catatonia on the radio, playing in bars, in my new friends’ CD collections was comforting and something I was really proud of.  Welsh music finally being recognised.  I’ve moved around a lot for my job and have lived in Nottingham, Somerset and Tyneside.  Music – my Catatonia, Manics and Stereophonics albums – were a big part of helping me feel I was holding on to my identity while living outside of Wales.

Funkanomics remix of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition

Almost as much as I love a good sing along, I love a good dance.  This is perfect – I love Stevie Wonder (who doesn’t?) and this remix is wonderful for feeling like you’ve got no other choice than to get up and get moving.  First heard at my local, The Globe in Cardiff, at Craig Charles’ Funk and Soul show.  It’s also my go-to motivation song in the mornings if I need an extra little something to get me feeling positive for the day ahead.

Just to put you on the spot could you choose one track from the five listed above and tell us why you have chosen this? 

Let’s go with Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles from the Blue/Abbey Road albums.  Think it’s the little bit of positivity we all need at the moment!  And it really is excellent for singing along to…

Top Tunes with James Doyle-Roberts, Co-Artistic Director of Citrus Arts

Hi James,  great to meet you, can you tells us about yourself and your work?

Hi there, and thanks for inviting me to do this.

I enjoy telling people that I’m quite a good poster-boy for how the arts can save young people who lack direction and, in my case lacked a stable family background.

I fell in love with Hip Hop & Breakdancing as a young teen, and then in my 20’s I discovered circus and aerial work which became my career for almost 20 years. Both things came along at times when I was heading down negative roads. What they have in common are the life benefits of physical training and a strong DIY cultural ethic of just making things happen before seeking permission.

The soundtrack to my early childhood was new-wave punk, Ska, and the early years of Hip-Hop. Breakdancing and the version of Hip-Hop culture that landed in Wales was my path away from the miserable cultural confusion of the 1980’s.

I’ve been lucky enough to live in Manchester at the height of it’s music scene, in London at a time when arts & culture really mattered, and back in Wales to work with NoFit State Circus when they were really hitting their stride.

I’m now Co-Artistic Director of Citrus Arts, along with the amazing Bridie Doyle-Roberts. Citrus have been making shows that combine Circus, Theatre, Dance, and Design since 2009 and we’re based in the Rhondda Valley. We tour shows around the UK and the last few years have seen us championing the hands-on skills that come with Circus life as a way to bring the people of our community together to create ‘Exceptional Experiences for Everyday People’.

 This chat is specifically about music and the role it has played in your personal and professional life. Firstly to start off what are you currently listening to? 

Music is and always has been, a major force behind my path as an artist.

As performers Bridie & I played in plenty of shows where the music felt like an add-on background texture, that’s why Citrus Arts places an emphasis on picking high quality soundtracks and live musicians for our shows.

Bridie & I have two small children, so it’s hard to find time to immerse ourselves in music. There’ve been dozens of times when the boys fall asleep in the car, so we keep on driving, talking about ideas for shows, playing albums, and making major decisions about Citrus Arts’ future as we keep going until one of them wakes up. It costs us a fortune in Ice Cream when we eventually stop to play in a park, or beach for a while before turning back home.

My go-to sounds at the moment all come from the brilliant Late Night Tales series of compilations. The LNT label invites top-notch musicians & producers to curate a 1-hour musical soundtrack for a ‘movie’ that’s never been filmed. My favourite track I’ve discovered so far is “Henry McCulloch” by David Holmes, BP Fallon, & Andrew Weatherall.

We are interviewing a range of people about their own musical inspiration, can you list five records/albums which have a personal resonance to you and why? 

The Stranglers – ‘All Live & All of The Night’

My first music festival was Reading in 1987, where I saw The Stranglers headline the Friday night there along with The Cramps, The Pogues, and Iggy Pop over the weekend. This album was partly recorded that night. I still love the sound, image, and artistic message of the punk movement, but was just a young lad with a paper round when it had the real power to shock.

The musicianship in this album still stands out as a moment that shows how punk evolved into the more interesting areas of the charts in the 80’s.

Devo – ‘Q- Are We Not Men?’

I’m still enthralled by how this band made a unique musical, visual, and political style around their image and output. Two brothers in the band made Devo’s pop videos way before the advent of MTV, another member invented the Roland Emulator keyboard/synthesiser, and between them they built a complete and un-improvable artistic world for their music and message.

I love the fact that the lead singer Mark Mothersbraugh now makes music for Marvel super-hero movies.

Massive Attack – ‘Blue Lines’

I was working at a big record shop (a “Megastore”, according to Mr Branson) in Cardiff when this came out and nobody, and I mean nobody, from the Phil Collins-loving security guards to the guys in the classical music department had anything but huge praise for this album. For me it was a re-connection back to my years of loving early Hip-Hop, Soul, and Jazz influenced music, and represented a way to cross between tribes of taste and friendship groups.

Every single track is excellent, but the decision to choose “Safe From Harm” as the opener was a masterstroke.

Ted Barnes – ‘Underbelly’

It’s hard to find Ted’s wider work on the usual online platforms, but this album is a great example of his style. Citrus Arts’ first touring show was based around Ted’s music and if you listen to this, you’ll hear why we chose it.

Barnes was Beth Orton’s composer when she rode high in the UK album charts in the 2000’s. My favourite story about this music is knowing that Ted’s father was a Toymaker in the seaside town of Whitstable in the post-war years.

This album sounds like a boy sneaking-in to his Dad’s shed where wood was carved, and tiny mechanical things came to life.

DJ Shadow – ‘Private Press’

Another personal tale coming up here, but this is DJ Shadow’s best album.

In 2012 the Hip-Hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa donated his personal record collection to NY Columbia University’s Cultural Archive – they were the plates of vinyl that were cut, scratched, and mixed to create Hip-Hop in the yard parties that founded the genre.

DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist were allowed to take those actual records on tour as the Renegades of Rhythm performances where they played them as a set, in tribute to one of the founding artists of Hip-Hop.

I saw the show. I listened to those actual grooves on those vinyl plates that inspired me to take a lifelong journey into physical performance, and the way that communities can make their own lasting mark on what I’m sure wasn’t considered ‘art’ at the time.

Just to put you on the spot could you choose one track from the five listed above and tell us why you have chosen this? 

I feel like I want my own Radio show after doing this!

If there’s one track I’d like to share with you, rather than remember for personal reasons, it has to be Ted Barnes’ “Sting in The Tale”.

Its lush, gorgeous, beautifully crafted music that everyone should try dancing to.

Thanks for your time James

Arddangosfa Graddedigion/Graduate Showcase, Sion Emlyn

  • Helo Sion braf cwrdd a ti, fedri di roi ychydig o wybodaeth am dy hun i’n darllenwyr ni plis?
  • Hi Sion great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

Helo, diolch am y cyfle yma. Felly, ar hyn o bryd dwi’n astudio MA Perfformio gyda PCYDDS yng Nghaerdydd. Dwi’n wreiddiol o bentre bach o’r enw Rhydymain, ger Dolgellau, ond nes i symud lawr i Gaerdydd yn 2017 i ddechrau ar fy ngradd mewn BA Perfformio. Dwi wrthi ar hyn o bryd yn ffilmio selftapes ar gyfer showcase ar-lein, yn sgil i’n showcase gwreiddiol ni gael ei ganslo o ganlyniad i’r amgylchiadau heddiw.

Hi, thanks for the opportunity. I’m currently studying MA Perfformio at UWTSD in Cardiff. I’m originally from a little village near Dolgellau, called Rhydymain, but moved down to Cardiff in 2017 to start on a degree in BA Perfformio. I’m currently self-taping for our university’s virtual showcase, as our original showcase was cancelled.

Here is Sion’s Spotlight link – https://www.spotlight.com/interactive/cv/6930-1278-7802

Picture of BA Perfformio’s 2019 production of Cysgu’n Brysur, directed by Elen Bowman, Sion played Cai. 
  • Felly, beth roddodd diddordeb iti yn y celfyddydau?
  • So, what got you interested in the arts?

Fel llawer o’m ffrindiau, fues i’n cystadlu mewn Eisteddfodau ers yn ifanc, canu mewn corau, a bod yn rhan o gyngherddau’r ysgol ac ati. Er nes i fwynhau’r dyddiau yna, yr hyn wnaeth fy nenu ac fy ysgogi i ddilyn llwybr o fewn y celfyddydau oedd ymuno â Ysgol Theatr Maldwyn. Ges i’r cyfle i fod yn rhan o amrywiaeth o sioeau a chyngherddau, gan drafeilio a pherfformio mewn nifer o theatrau gwahanol ar draws Cymru. Mae fy nyled i’n fawr iawn i Penri, Linda a’r diweddar Derec am yr holl brofiadau ges i ar hyd y blynyddoedd.

Like many of my friends, I competed in numerous Eisteddfods, joined choirs, and being a part of school productions. But on top of this, what really got me wanting to be in this industry was joining Ysgol Theatr Maldwyn. I had the opportunity to be in various shows and concerts, and to perform in many theatres across Wales. My gratitude is enormous to Penri, Linda and the late Derec for their work, and the chances I had throughout my years with them.

  • Fedri di son ychydig am dy broses creadigol?
  • Can you tell us about your creative process?

Mae fy mhroses i’n amrywio yn ddibynnol ar y dasg sydd genai. Dwi newydd gwblhau modiwl actio pellach gyda Angharad Lee, ble roeddem yn mynd ati i ymchwilio ac analeiddio darn o ddeialog yn gorfforol, yn defnyddio ‘toolkit’ o sgiliau methodoleg Stanislavski. Fyddai’n siwr o gario’r broses ymlaen i wahanol brosiectau gan ei fod yn diddymu unrhyw batrymau sydd genai, ac yn gwneud i mi gysylltu’n well gyda’r testun.

Angharad Lee

My process varies depending on the task ahead. I’ve just completed a module on further acting with Angharad Lee, where we had to analyse and investigate a piece of dialogue physically, using a ‘toolkit’ of skills from Stanislavski’s methodology. I will be sure to carry on this process onto different projects, as it gets rid of any patterns I have, and helps me to connect better to the text.

Picture of BA Perfformio’s 2017 production of Sweeney Todd, directed by Angharad Lee, Sion played Tobias Ragg, centre.
  • Fel artist ifanc o Gymru sy’n graddio yn ystod cyfnod anodd iawn, pa fuddsoddiad a chefnogaeth sydd eu hangen yn eich barn chi i alluogi eich gyrfa i ddatblygu a ffynnu?
  • As a young Welsh artists graduating during a very difficult period, what investment and support do you think is required to enable your career to develop and prosper?

Mae’r diwydiant yma wedi bod yn dda iawn yn ystod yr amser anodd yma i ni, fel actorion neu artistiaid sy’n dechrau ar eu gyrfa, drwy ddod at eu gilydd a rhoi llawer o gyfleodd allan yna i ni. Dwi’n meddwl fod o’n bwysig i hyn gario mlaen unwaith fydd popeth wedi mynd nol i’r arfer. Hefyd, falle defnyddio’r amser yma i fod yn greadigol, a gwneud rhywbeth megis, darllen mwy o ddramau neu dysgu acen newydd – ond wedi dweud hyn dwi ddim yn rhoi unrhyw bwysau na gorfodaeth i wneud hyn chwaith.

The industry’s been very good during this difficult period for us, as actors or artists starting on their career, by coming together and offering different opportunities for us. I believe it’s important that this caries on when life goes back to normal. Maybe, to use this time and be creative, and read more plays or learn a new accent, but after saying that, I’m not putting myself under any pressure to do anything either.

  • Mae ystod o sefydliadau ac unigolion o fewn y celfyddydau bellach yn gweithio ar-lein neu’n dod o hyd i ffyrdd newydd i gysylltu â cynulleidfaoedd. Ydych chi wedi gweld unrhyw enghreifftiau arbennig o hyn yn gweithio?
  • A range of arts organisation and individuals are now working online or finding new ways to reach out to audiences. Have you seen any particularly good examples of this way of working?

Do! Neshi weld tweet yn arbennig i raddedigion actio 2020 gan National Theatre Wales, oedd yn rhoi’r cynnig i gysylltu a chyfarfod, a hynny dros Zoom, gyda nifer o weithwyr proffesiynol i gyflwyno ein hunain rwan bod ein sioeau terfynol ddim yn digwydd. Dwi’n meddwl fod o’n anhygoel i ni fel Cymry i allu cael sgwrs a dod i nabod pobl yn y diwydiant cyn mynd i’r byd gwaith. Fues i’n cael sgwrs gyda Jeremy Turner, sef Cyfarwyddwr Artistig Arad Goch heddiw, a mae gennai sgwrs gyda Sarah Bickerton, sy’n gyfarwyddwraig cyswllt â Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru ac Louisa Palmer, sy’n asiant i Shelley Norton Management i ddod o fewn yr wythnos. Nid yn unig mae hyn yn gyfle da i gyflwyno’n hun, ond mae o’n gwneud fi’n gyffrous i fynd allan i’r byd gwaith unwaith fydd y cyfnod yma yn dod i ben.

Yes! I saw a tweet from NTW for 2020 acting graduates which gives the opportunity to connect, over Zoom, with industry professionals and to present yourself now that end of year productions have been cancelled. I think it’s an amazing chance for individuals that are graduating in acting in Wales, or from Wales to meet and introduce yourself to professionals before going into work. I met with Jeremy Turner, the artistic director for Arad Goch today, and from now to next week I’ll be meeting Sarah Bickerton, associate director with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru and Louisa Palmer, agent with Shelley Norton Management. This has made me even more excited about joining the industry and going into work.

  • Os fydde modd i chi ariannu adran yn y celfyddydau yng Nghymru, beth fyddai hyn a pham?
  • If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales, what would this be and why?

Dwi’m yn siwr iawn! Dwi’n meddwl swni’n licio gweld gwefan, tebyg i ‘Scribd’, gyda gweithiau Cymraeg, boed hynny’n waith gwreiddiol neu’n gyfieithiadau. Yn aml swni’n ei chael hi’n hawdd iawn i ddod o hyd i fonolog Saesneg, ond yn gweld hi’n anoddach o lawer dod o hyd i rywbeth Cymraeg. Falle mai fi sy’n edrych yn y lle anghywir, pwy a wyr! Ond dwi di dechrau prynu sgriptiau/dramau rwan ar ôl gwylio dramau Cymraeg, jysd rhag ofn ddoith o’n handi ar gyfer rhywbeth rwbryd.

I’m not quite sure! I’d like if there would be a website, like Scribd, but with only Welsh works, that being an original or a translation. I often find finding monologues in English easier, and find it much harder finding something in Welsh. It might be completely my fault, that I’m looking in the wrong places, who knows! But I’ve started buying scripts/plays after watching Welsh plays now, just in case it will come handy someday!

  • Beth sy’n dy gyffroi am y celfyddydau yng Nghymru?
  • What excites you about the arts in Wales?

Y peth sy’n cyffroi fi fwyaf ydi fod gymaint o gyfleoedd allan yna ar hyn o bryd, ac nid yn unig ar gyfer actorion. Mae’n braf gweld gymaint o artistiaid ifanc newydd allan yna, mae’n rhoi gobaith i mi am ddyfodol cadarn i’r celfyddydau yng Nghymru.

What excites me the most is, that there are so many opportunities out there, and not only just for actors. It’s great to see so many young artists out there, it gives me hope for a strong future for the arts in Wales.

Picture of BA Perfformio’s 2019 production of a Welsh translation of 100 by Neil Monaghan, Diene Petterle and Christopher Heimann, directed by Aled Pedrick – Sion played Ketu
  • Beth oedd y peth gwirioneddol wych olaf i chi ei brofi yr hoffech ei rannu gyda’n darllenwyr?
  • What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?

Heb os, Tylwyth gan Daf James! Er na ges i gyfle i’w weld o’n iawn, a dwi’n hollol hollol gytyd am hyna! Ro’n i’n rhan o’r côr oedd ynddo, ac felly di gweld darna ohono. Dwi ddim isho sboilio gormod, ond oedd y diweddglo yn rhoi shivers i fi bob noson, ac oedd gweld gymaint oedd y gynulleidfa wedi mwynhau’r sioe yn galonogol iawn. Mae’n braf weithiau cael sioe gyda diweddglo hapus dydi!

Without a doubt, Tylwyth by Daf James! Although I didn’t get a chance to see the whole show, and I’m really gutted about that! I was a part of the choir, and so I saw parts of it. I don’t want to spoil it, but the ending gave me shivers every night, and just being able to see how much the audience enjoyed the show was heart-warming. It’s nice to have a happy ending sometimes!

  • Diolch am eich amser/Thanks for your time

Diolch yn fawr

My Top 5 Showcase: Welsh Country Music Artists

Here at Get the Chance, with opportunities to respond to live cultural events curtailed by the current crisis, it presents an opportunity to showcase talent instead. As country music is one of my greatest loves, here’s my shout-out to five Welsh artists who are worth checking out…

Rosey Cale

To many, Rosey may be more familiar as a musical theatre actress, having starred most notably in Theatr na Nog’s production ‘Eye of the Storm’. However, she is also a talented songwriter, having released a series of singles which have all been very well received. What marks her music out is the vulnerability and honesty in the lyrics, which are often surrounded with an infectious pop-inspired sound. Her ‘Sunday Covers’ on YouTube are well worth checking out, with this one being a particular favourite of mine:

Eleri Angharad

On her website, Eleri’s biography states that she ‘blends traditional country music storytelling with catchy pop melodies’. Listening to her debut album ‘Earthbound’ though, I would say that she has also been influenced (whether consciously or not) by the folk music of her homeland too. It is the eclectic nature of her sound which makes the Swansea-based artist stand out from the crowd. Her single ‘Smokey Steel Lights’ is a case-in-point:

Megan Lee

For someone so young, Megan Lee has achieved an awful lot. Despite still being in school, this Wrexham-based artist is somewhat of a veteran musician, having already released a number of records as part of her family band Blue Genes. Now branching out as a solo artist, this girl has a very bright future ahead of her. Inspired by the likes of Alison Krauss and Cam, this original song is evidence of her burgeoning talent:

Bryony Sier

A prolific guitar picker, an inspired songwriter, and a versatile musician, Bryony is fast drawing the attention of many in the music industry. I loved her early stuff, infused with old-school Cash-inspired gospel, but her recent pop-produced singles retain an acute lyrical honesty that still manages to hit the spot. Check out her latest single ‘Merry Go Round’ to see what I mean:

Shannon Hynes

This Flintshire-born singer-songwriter already has a prolific track record when it comes to UK Country Music #1s. Her talent was recognised most recently at the ‘UK Country Music Spotlight Awards‘ when her single ‘Off Guard’ was nominated for ‘Song of the Year’. Blending traditional and modern country sounds, she may no longer be based in Wales, but she is certainly flying the flag for Welsh country music talent.

Written by Gareth Williams

Top Tunes with Lorne Campbell, Artistic Director, National Theatre Wales.

Hi Lorne, great to meet you, can you tells us about yourself and your work?

I am the Artistic Director of National Theatre Wales, a role I have been in for all of three weeks. Before this I was AD of Northern Stage in Newcastle. I’m from Edinburgh, I started out in theatre as an actor but fairly soon figured out I was in the right room but standing in the wrong place and started directing. Throughout my career I’ve made a range of work from New-Writing, Classic text, devised and collaboratively written pieces and over the last couple of years a lot of work with music and video elements at the core. I am obsessed with liveness and the ability of actors to be utterly present in a moment, in making theatre that knows it is in the same room as its audience and cannot take place without their complicity and imagination. It is so exciting to be at the beginning of a journey in Wales, meeting new communities and makers from all walks of life, everything feels full of possibility. 

Firstly to start off what are you currently listening to? 

I am mostly listening to two Albums at the moment: ‘The Koln Concert‘ By Keith Jarrett, and ‘3.15.20’ By Childish Gambino. The Koln concert is one of my favourite records of all time and I always return to it in testing times and ‘3.15.20’ is just straight up remarkable, it takes not only bears but demands real concentrated listening to and I’m loving getting to know it. 

Can you list five records/albums which have a personal resonance to you and why? 
So hard to pick just 5 but here we go:


1: The Koln Concert –  Keith Jarrett.

It’s a totally magical transformative bit of music. The story of how the record was made is fundamental to the music itself. It is a live recording of a concert played on a totally unsuitable piano, the full story is here In short, the piano had virtually no bottom or top end meaning Jarrett had to play with huge force and rolling pattern of ostinatos to maintain the bass resonance and limit himself to the middle register of the instrument, in addition was in huge pain from a back injury so couldn’t sit. In these entirely unsuitable conditions he improvised one of the greatest jazz records ever recorded. It is a piece of pure creativity and beauty you can get totally lost in. 

2.Three Feet High and Rising – De La Soul

This was one of those mind blowing, what-is-this,-I’ve-never-heard-anything-like-this-what-else-can-I-hear-like-that-passing-of-a-many-time-copied-pirate-tape moments. Released in 1989 It is amazing how fresh it feels today, it’s a lyrical, passionate, agile and deeply humane album. It has that amazing quality that even after all these years it still surprises and delights you, there is nothing taken for granted in its construction, every choice in it is made, nothing is default.

3. If You Ever See Me Talking to a Sailor By Sting (Performed by Frances McNamee) The Last Ship.


Specifically this version captured this spring on the U.S. Tour of ‘The Last Ship’: Working on ‘The Last Ship’ as director and book writer has been the huge creative endeavour of my life over the last two years. I have never known any music as well as know this score and this track embodies the show. Frances is an unbelievable performer blending bottomless skill with idiosyncrasy and passion and she totally meets the challenge of this incredible song from Sting. In his composition, influence, harmonics and phrasing Sting’s music asks so much of its performers, it is really remarkable to make it feel this effortless.


4: Midnight Train to Georgia By Gladys Night and The Pips

I’m a huge Soul and Funk fan, it is impossible to pick only one album artist or track but if I must, it’d have to be this one. It is that faultless four minute song that seems so simple, clear and direct yet bears a thousand hearings. Perfect. 

5. The Goldberg Variations By Bach

There is a deep and mysterious magic in this music. I listen to it when I need to do something very hard. It does something remarkable to your mind, a sort of stilling, focussing and opening that permits a special sort of concentration. You can sit and purely listen to it or you can listen to it and think at the same time. It’s magic, I don’t even begin to understand it, but I know it works. There are of course many amazing recordings, Gould, Turuck, Schiff but the one I return to the most is Kimiko Ishizaka’s  It is very pure, very clear, it seems to me to have almost no ego in its playing.

 Just to put you on the spot could you choose one track from the five listed above and tell us why you have chosen this? 

What a spot to be on. I think it would have to be the Bach as it is the one that I would miss most deeply if I couldn’t hear it.

An Interview with Wales based Dance Artist Becky Johnson

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

Hi, thank you for meeting with me. Well, I’m currently a freelance dancer/ choreographer/ teacher based in Cardiff. I’m originally from Huddersfield (Yorkshire) and moved to Cardiff to train in Contemporary Dance at USW. I graduated in June 2019 but have stayed in Cardiff since. Since then, I have really found myself invested in the arts scene here in Wales. 

 So, what got you interested in the arts?

I’d like to say I’ve always been creative but that would be a lie. I started dancing quite young at my local dance school and loved the competitions and team dances that we’d do together. It wasn’t until I was much older and was exposed to more of the arts scene, that I started to see the beauty within the arts sector and understand how collaborative it can be.

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

My creation process with making dance varies. I take great influence from the things around me. Being that, things that inspire and intrigue me or something I want to understand further. Either that or I use my personal experiences of my interactions with the world; things that I believe should be highlighted to others or need to be understood more widely.

You were recently involved in curating, House of Rhythm presents… A night of Hip Hop which took place at Kongs Cardiff on Thursday, March 5, 2020. The event is described as “A celebration and discovery of all that is Hip hop and is in partnership with Kellys Records and Grassroots Cardiff” How did you get into Hip Hop and Streetdance. How supported is the scene in Cardiff?

One of the dance schools I was involved with as a teenager, “Fidget Feet”, prioritised teaching the true foundations and principles of HipHop. This touched upon all five pillars of Hip-Hop as well as the various styles of dance within Street Dance culture.

That, alongside growing up with two brothers who thought they were destined to be the next Notorious B.I.G, meant I was immersed within the culture and that it’s been a pivotal part of my upbringing and even in my attitude and approach to movement (and life in general) now.

This series of events is an opportunity to provide a gateway into HipHop culture and not just the music form. I feel this sense of community within HipHop, especially in Cardiff, is lacking and hence why we have decided to partner with Grassroots.

By doing so, we are working with up and coming artists and providing them with opportunities to meet people they wouldn’t otherwise. Also, with the inclusion of workshops within different pillars of HipHop, we are combining the culture as a whole and not just focussing on one part.

There are a range of organisations supporting Welsh and Wales based dancers, 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 dance artist in Wales and if not what would help?

I’ve been extremely fortunate in the fact that as soon as I graduated, I found work that was within my field of practise. This has kept me financially stable and allowed me time to fulfil my own projects outside of my teaching work. I believe Cardiff and Wales has an extremely supportive network of artists, all willing to share their own knowledge and craft. Throughout my degree, I worked extremely hard to network and to meet the right people with the suiting opportunities to help me develop within my career. If it wasn’t for me outsourcing my own network of people (from all fields of the arts sector), I would’ve struggled to get to the place I am now, never mind the place I want to be by the end of the year.

I do feel there is an absence of ongoing opportunities, especially for recent graduates that are new to the sector. However, if we are willing to make our own work and source our own opportunities, making our own projects, yes, there is work but we must be prepared to pave this path for ourselves. This isn’t disregarding help and assistance from other creatives/ professionals, but the help is more to kickstart our own ideas rather than to flourish with other people’s.

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

Wow, tricky question. I’d probably have to say spacing. Providing space for artists to develop their own practise and ideas, whether that be, musicians, dancers or visual artists. As not only is there a lack of creative and accessible space in Wales, there’s a huge lacking of funded space. If there were more funded residencies around Wales, we would see a lot more new work being developed and a much more diverse community engagement from artists in the area.

 What excites you about the arts in Wales?

I feel like this is such an exciting time for collaboration within Wales. There are more opportunities coming to bridge the divide, whether that between artistic practises or between bodies of dancers. There are some exciting opportunities in the works for disabled dancers which I can’t wait to be involved in as well as new pools of artists moving to Wales from areas such as London bringing new skills and assets.

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

Well there’s nothing like a little bit of shameless self promo but this is honest and genuine. It would be The House of Rhythm event which we had on the 5th March. There were people from lots of different communities and backgrounds all coming together to support the artists performing. We had people involved in the workshops that would never normally be in those sorts of social experiences. I also had talks with participants on how we can make our events more autism friendly and accessible for those suffering with social anxiety etc. It was this coming together of people which was really beautiful to witness as all of the participants were supportive of each other, regardless of background and experience.

Thanks for your time

Thank you very much for getting in touch!

Rooting Hip-Hop Theatre in Wales

Hip-Hop was created out of struggle in New York during the 1970s as poverty and discrimination hit the African American and Caribbean communities. It has since grown into arguably the largest arts-movement in the world.

Generally, British society knows hip-hop as a music genre which is often put to one side. However, the reality is the fingerprints of hip-hop are everywhere. From music, to fashion, to dance, to graffiti, film and theatre. Spanning the globe from New York, to LA, Tokyo, Cape Town, Seoul, Moscow and London. Hip-hop is everywhere.

In Wales, Avant Cymru are pioneering the Welsh hip-hop theatre movement following in the footsteps of the likes of Jonzi D and ZooNation. Taking stories from where the company is based in Rhondda and around Wales to platform them locally, nationally and internationally.

I’ve seen Avant Cymru’s work for myself at the Cardiff and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals and company director Jamie Berry’s solo dance in People, Power, Perception is still one of my personal favourite pieces of art I’ve seen on the stage. It proved to me that you could tell a compelling story full of emotion using only dance. Which beforehand, despite having seen a variety of different dance-based theatre, I’d never felt for myself.

It’s hard to ignore the sense of impending doom brought on by the COVID-19 epidemic. Work doesn’t stop for Avant Cymru though. Krump workshops with Duwane Taylor are available on their YouTube channel and next month they will be releasing a video where world renowned popper Shawn Ailey will be teaching the foundations for popping.

They will be running workshops through to July, either online or around Wales when safe, including sessions with beatboxing, rapping, graffiti and DJing teachers to introduce learners to all elements of hip-hop outside of dance.

As a disabled-led company, with a variety of health and mental health conditions, Avant Cymru really is open to any and everyone. With the help of the British Council they are travelling to Canada in October for the No Limit Jam to connect with fellow disabled artists and explore opportunities and encourage those with disabilities, mental or physical, to pick up hip-hop.

The passion to do this comes from personal experience:

“For us Hip-Hop has had a positive influence on our lives.” For Jamie, “suffering with depression, breakin’ was the one thing that gave me drive and ambition… The theatre aspect allows me to express these thoughts. We have noticed other Hip-Hop artists, rappers, graffiti writers and dancers do the same. We want to make sure others have hip-hop as a tool to improve their health and well-being.”

For artistic director Rachel Pedley she found a home in Hip-Hop culture. “As a working-class artist, I struggled to afford the lifestyle of ballet dancers and other theatre makers. In Hip-Hop the training and social side was more affordable and the other artists were easier to relate to. It helped build the confidence I needed to go and create and understand my value didn’t come from the cash in my pocket. Working in the Rhondda Valleys, we want to make sure that our young people have the confidence needed to walk into other aspects of life, we believe confidence comes from celebrating our differences and that hip hop even encourages this.”

As well as offering workshops and encouraging people into forms of hip-hop, Avant Cymru also produce their own work. Working with artists from all pillars of hip-hop, from beatboxers, emcees, graffiti artists, dancers and DJs. As well as with artists from outside hip-hop such as theatre writers or musicians from outside hip-hop.

Hip-Hop is often stereotyped as ‘gangster rap’, but it is so much more than that. Avant Cymru aim to change this view as they “would like to share our knowledge with different audiences to show how varied and creative Hip Hop can be and how positive it can be when you get involved.”

Hip-Hop is arguably the largest artistic movement in the world today. But maybe the most misunderstood also. So, if you’re interested, check out an upcoming show from Avant Cymru or another hip-hop company. Or even give it a go yourself.