Category Archives: Musical

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 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.

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

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.

Review St David’s Day Concert, Welsh National Orchestra, St Davids Hall, Cardiff by Becky Johnson

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

A magnificent experience from start to end; if you haven’t been to see a live orchestra, I cannot recommend the experience enough, especially a performance by the BBC National Orchestra.

For the annual “Dydd Gwyl Dewi” by the BBC National Orchestra and chorus of Wales, a celebration of all things Welsh occurred. The event marks the start of a partnership with Orchestre Synphonique de Bretagne and was conducted by Musical Director Grant Llewellyn. This collaboration showcased performances from the National Youth Orchestra and the orchestra’s partnership with the Welsh folk band Calan.

Calan

The performance began with the string section and wow! The bows leaped and danced in bounds of rhythm and movement with each other. Mesmerised by the spiralling and winding of the violinists, the sound echoed both visually in front of us as well as audibly, surrounding our senses. It was only in the moments of rest in which the musicians once again became human. Otherwise, you were entranced by the bountiful immersion occurring on stage.

Whilst conducting Llewellyn, would dance (although often like a dad whilst making dinner in the kitchen) with the music taking over his physical being which would emit onto us, the audience. There were moments which were Matilda-esque, playing with the electricity between the different musicians.

Musical Director Grant Llewellyn

Flickers of imagery from time to time would overwhelm my thoughts, either that of memories of children playing in fields or of the roaming hills I would often watch through a train window. I felt at peace.

Each piece within the performance held its own providing a new stimulus for us to focus on. The second was more heavily percussioned. Again, the musicians danced, but this time it was those playing the Glockenspiel that lead the way, bouncing from note to note. My only questions being that once the choir was introduced, does the orchestra take a backseat? As the audience, both parts seemed equally powerful and important so I questioned whether one should be a lesser superior component.

With the third piece, there was also this playing of power. The soloist, Angharad Lynddon, sombre in tone but beautifully delicate with accent, teased between the everchanging balance between the orchestra and herself. This teasing continued into the fourth piece, with a sense of non- competitive play in rolling waves of triumph.

Angharad Lynddon

The fifth, probably my favourite of the day, balanced the old and the new in the most magical way. It balanced the factors of delicate comedy with moments that were boisterous with power in such a way we were enchanted by the relentless percussion.

This continuation of a modern fusion with the more classical was profound in the second half of the show. There was an explosion of life with odes to all elements of traditional welsh culture, with references from Caws to clog dancing. However, I do feel with the introduction of Calan, both the orchestra and choir became neglected. The percussion was replaced by the rhythmic plucking of the guitarist and the focus was turned more towards the band. I desired a more equal balance between the components, whether this could have occurred spatially, with the band in the centre of the orchestra or if it was something musical that needed to be altered. Although, it was incredible to watch Llewellyn conduct both the orchestra and the band, with the relationship between the three was clearly evident.

To conclude, the whole experience and atmosphere was a magnificent experience from start to end; if you haven’t been to see a live orchestra, I cannot recommend the experience enough, especially a performance by the BBC National Orchestra.

Arts Online, A Guest Post by Megan Pritchard, Marketing Campaigns Manager at National Dance Company Wales

We are both saddened to see the vast array of cultural cancellations over the past day and proud to see so many companies putting the health of their staff, participants and audiences first. 


The arts are an important part of many of our lives, and we’re also excited to see so many isolation friendly options arising. We’ve started a list of online dance and yoga classes, digital only festivals and a huge array of dance, opera, theatre, museums and CPD activities you can do from home – including full NDCWales performances.  Please share this resource and let us know of other fab things we can add to it. 

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Mae’r ddau ohonom yn drist iawn o weld yr ystod eang o ddigwyddiadau diwylliannol sydd wedi cael eu canslo ers ddoe ac yn falch o weld cymaint o gwmnïau yn rhoi iechyd eu staff, cyfranogwyr a chynulleidfaoedd yn gyntaf.
Mae’r celfyddydau yn rhan bwysig o fywydau sawl un ohonom, ac rydym hefyd yn teimlo’n gyffrous i weld cynifer o opsiynau y gellir eu gwneud wrth hunan-ynysu yn codi.Rydym wedi dechrau rhestr o ddosbarthiadau dawns ac ioga ar-lein, gwyliau digidol yn unig a llu o bethau yn seiliedig ar ddawns, opera, y theatr ac amgueddfeydd, a gweithgareddau y gallwch eu gwneud adref – gan gynnwys perfformiadau CDCCymru llawn.


Rhannwch yr adnodd hwn a rhowch wybod i ni am bethau gwych, eraill y gallwn eu hychwanegu ato.


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DANCE CLASSES 
Gaga is a unique dance training, Gaga Movement Language גאגא שפת תנועה NYC are currently offering 3 classes a day 7 days a week with a suggested donation.  https://www.gofundme.com/f/gaga-nyc-online-classeshttps://www.facebook.com/groups/mootmovementlab/


Moot – The Movement Lab are making their resources as available as possible and have great updates on other training online. 


Juliard School of Performing Arts are running ballet barre classes through instagram https://www.instagram.com/juilliardschool/


You can learn the famous Rosas Danst Rosas from Anne-Teresa De Keersmaecker here online, easily done at home with a kitchen chair  https://www.rosas.be/en/news/814-dance-in-times-of-isolation


The Dance Centre is offering fun online musical theatre inspired classes. https://www.facebook.com/1thedancecentre


Rebecca Lemme / Acts of Matter offers a free online Barre Class you can do without a proper Barre https://vimeo.com/398046579/cdfec48e01?fbclid=IwAR2AlsTXHcg7–4ulAhmvpNotiVJIMz3Z3v_PIYW6pKyT0bZ_JQFfJN0Cow


The Guardian has an article on tips for dancing at home.https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/feb/22/fitness-tips-online-dance-tutorials?fbclid=IwAR2DKtULuSlfcB7TueCKqAbegoM4OYJFrRoCX5mwpwsWO_NILQsn6sHKXxI


YOGA CLASSES

Overwhelmingly our dancers suggest following Yoga With Adriene for youtube yoga https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene


Cat Meffan Yoga – another office fav, with a huge range of free classes on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVrWHW_xYpDnr3p3OR4KYGw


Our dancers also enjoy the Down Dog App which also has a ballet barre class option https://www.downdogapp.com/


Rosanna Emily Carless our Dance Ambassador is streaming free yoga classes daily on her facebook page.


AT HOME ARTS FESTIVALS IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19


These festivals aim to gather streamed content and classes in different ways – Social Distancing Streaming Concerts https://www.socialdistancingfestival.com 

The Social Distancing Festival https://creativedistance.org/ 

Creative Distance, The Theatre Cafehttps://www.facebook.com/thetheatrecafe/photos/a.1597256473856456/2552997778282316/?type=3&theater 


LIVE EVENTS STREAMED TO YOUR DEVICES 


NDCWales P.A.R.A.D.E.  including choreography by Caroline Finn, Marcos Morau and Lee Johnson, in collaboration with BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Rubicon Dance and Vertical Dance Kate Lawrence; filmed by The Space Arts. https://vimeo.com/248459479


Tundra by Marcos Morau https://vimeo.com/254300487


Reflections documentary and dance film from our Dance for Parkinson’s participants. https://vimeo.com/ndcwales/reflections


The Metropolitan OperaAre running nightly live streams, up at 7.30pm(EDT) each left up for 20 hours. http://metopera.org/

Rosie Kay’s 5 Soldiers https://youtu.be/2urN4ESejFo

Or Zosia Jo’s – Fabulous Animal is available to stream for donation here https://www.zosiajo.com/fab-animal-film


Berliner PhilharmonikerUse the code BERLINPHIL by March 31 to get 30-day access to the orchestra’s stunning work https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/home


Marquee TVOffer plays, dance, opera and theatre all to stream on a Netflix like service, offering free 30 day trial at the momentmarquee.tv

Twitter Search #togetherathome to see bands streaming intimate concerts live from their homes.

 
The Guardian have posted their own list now too  https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2020/mar/17/hottest-front-room-seats-the-best-theatre-and-dance-to-watch-online?CMP=share_btn_fb

Filmed on StageHosts links to mostly paid streams of large Broadway shows and musicals http://www.filmedonstage.com/

You can watch the west end production of Wind in the Willows here https://www.willowsmusical.com/ 


Netflix and Amazon Prime VideoBoth have a small selection of stage shows to stream


Other Cultural Activity 


Free Museum tours from across the world https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours


Free colouring pages from museums http://www.openculture.com/2019/02/download-free-coloring-books-from-113-museums.html?fbclid=IwAR3wPlZLs00PCl-tilb9jXHKJPUSDa2oui1SHQC-iEsh40w7b_ZN5DIyglU


Free National Park tours https://www.thrillist.com/news/nation/google-earth-virtual-tours-of-us-national-parks


David Bowie is At the V&A MuseumAn augmented reality tour of the singer’s costumes, notebooks and life’s work. https://davidbowieisreal.com/


CPD FROM HOME 
ETC have made their online training courses free during this time: training for technicians Courses.etcconnect.com  The following performers offer one to one tuition, find them on facebook. 


Rubyyy Jones – Cabaret MCing Paul L Martin – mentoring for cabaret performers  John Celestus – one to one Flexibiliy and Strength, contortion, compare 
Skillshare International Offers photography, illustration, design with a 2 month free trial available https://www.skillshare.com/


Welsh for work with Learn Welsh Cardiff – Dysgu Cymraeg Caerdydd A 10 hour course free https://learnwelsh.cymru/work-welsh/work-welsh-courses/work-welsh-taster-courses/


Say Something in Welsh A podcast based language learning system with free and paid options including Welshhttps://www.saysomethingin.com/


Duolingo The number one free language app has a great Welsh course toohttps://www.duolingo.com/

Review ‘Beautiful’ – the Carole King Musical at WMC by Vic Mills

Review of ‘Beautiful’ – the Carole King Musical at WMC

1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5)

It is hard to overstate the talent and importance of Carole King as a songwriter.  118 top fifty hits in the US gives some indication of the success she has enjoyed, but doesn’t in itself demonstrate the quality of her writing or its importance.  Her first hit, written with Gerry Goffin as lyricist, when she was just sixteen, ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ is astonishing in its quality, particularly for one so young and from such a non-musical background.  Writing a string of hits for women and black artists, predominantly though not exclusively, in the sixties and then the move to LA after finally having enough of Goffin’s faithless behaviour, shows her incredible courage.  The weeks recording ‘Tapestry’ – one of the most successful albums of all time – next door to Joni Mitchell recording ‘Blue’ and Jackson Browne recording ‘Late For The Sky’ have gone into modern musical folklore with some justification.  Carole King is essential and central in the rise of the singer-songwriter.  She is an essential and wonderful part of the story of women’s voices being heard and celebrated.  She is a wonderful, wonderful talent.

Given all this, a musical telling the story of her early years, leading up to her legendary solo performance at Carnegie Hall, should be a glorious and fascinating thing.  ‘Beautiful’ certainly is not that.  What this is, unfortunately, is a cut and paste comic-book story homage of the sort which might have been serialised in ‘Jackie’ in 1973.  A sequence of incredibly short and trivial scenes, fly in or slide in, at bewildering pace, with cardboard cut out characters of managers and mothers and friends, who speak in ghastly and trivial cliches before being whirled away to be replaced with more cliches on the breakdown of married life from a cardboard Carole and Gerry, who seem to have stumbled onstage from a black and white episode of ‘Bewitched’ circa 1968.

The songs and the dances which attend them are adequately delivered at very best.  These are amazing and wonderfully memorable songs, loved by the audience, and, given the budget of this kind of show and the talent pool available, should have been superbly and innovatively choreographed, orchestrated and sung.  However, on an expensive but deeply unimaginative set, some very, very ordinary dance and movement did nothing to enhance the songs or bring the stage to life.

There was nothing wrong with Daisy Wood-Davis, Adam Gillian or Laura Baldwin in the lead roles.  I quite liked Wood-Davis – she had an energy and commitment which was pleasing and a decent voice.  But it is hard to imagine what anyone could have done with a script like this.  When you think of the issues Carole King’s story throws up around women, race, the music industry, the sexual revolution, the inequalities marriage imposes etc – this is a playwright’s goldmine, surely?

There was not a memorable line or genuinely theatrical moment in the entire piece.  When Carole decides to leave New York to set off for LA as a performer as well as songwriter, she sits at her piano and tells her friends that she is ‘saying goodbye with a song’ and sings them, ‘You’ve Got A Friend’ as they circle her at the piano and join in.  There is a ghastly level of embarrassment to this smaltz.

Cards on the table, juke-box musicals are not my favourite forms of entertainment and I wouldn’t dream of paying money to see anything about Abba or Queen under any circumstances, but this is Carole King and what an opportunity to tell explore her incredibly important story is missed in this silly fluff-piece.

Vic Mills

Review: Beautiful The Carole King Musical, WMC By Lowri Cynan

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

This is an enchanting show which is both pacey and entertaining. It follows the early life story of Carole King, an aspiring young American songwriter and musician who teamed up with her then partner and later husband, Gerry Goffin, moving to Manhattan to compose songs to sell to other artists in the 1960’s – some of the most evocative and iconic songs of their generation. The plot shows the struggles and frustrations facing the fledgeling composers and how they were controlled and ultimately manipulated by the dog eat dog nature of the music industry. We witness each song constructed in their purest form, before being transformed into full production numbers sung by various top chart artists and groups, from The Drifters and Aretha Franklin to James Taylor and The Shirelles and Neil Sedaka and King herself. 

The audience were engrossed by the litany of hits which were performed most authentically, proceeding to sing along to the likes of ‘Locomotion’, ‘Natural Woman’, ‘Will you Still Love me Tomorrow’, ‘You’ve got a friend’ and ‘Take good care of my Baby’ to name but a few.

I particularly enjoyed the staging which was very effective, without fuss and with efficient transitions. We were transported from one location to another by way of an array of moving rostra and backdrops creating the perfect mood and atmosphere for each scene. Costumes were in keeping with the style, reminding us of the quirky, colourful fashion of this heady creative period.

However, without doubt the main highlight was the music – the crisp, vibrant band arrangements by the eminent Steve Sidwell to the well known tunes and songs written by Carole King.  The majority were sung with vigour and enthusiasm by a number of the talented ensemble cast.

The performances of the two main characters – Daisy Wood Davis as King and Adam Gillian as Goffin – were believable and emotional with lovely interaction. They were accompanied by many other actors who sang and danced and multi roled throughout the show providing a very compelling overall experience for the audience.

I thoroughly enjoyed my evening with these 60s legends and it was very pleasing to see the Donald Gordon Theatre full and bopping to the hits. If you are around, check it out – I’m certain you won’t be disappointed. You’ll no doubt feel the earth move and you won’t want to get out of this place!! The production is in Cardiff until March the 14th before resuming their UK tour.  

An Interview with Playwright Jon Tregenna

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

I was born in Llanelli, acted in Cardiff, in various bands in London, back to Llanelli to write TV and moved to Laugharne in 2012. I live in a house where a murder was committed in 1953 and a friend of Dylan Thomas was arrested. Dylan called Laugharne, ‘…the strangest town in Wales.’ He wasn’t wrong. I’ve written the Dylan Thomas ebook for the BBC, TV comedy drama for BBC & S4C and the David Garland Jones Youtube channel. Hail Cremation! is my fourth play after two plays for Llanelli Youth Theatre; Raw Material: Llareggub Revisited for NTW (co-created with Marc Rees) in 2014, and I’ve have been working on Hail Cremation! since 2016.

Marc Rees and Jon Treganna, Co-Creators,Raw Material, Llareggub Revisited, NTW.

 So, what got you interested in the arts?

My Dad read Dr Seuss and Charles Dickens to me when I was very young which I loved. I later raided Dad’s bookshelves and his Anglo-Welsh poetry, and became big fan of poet and polemicist, Harri Webb. In school I got into acting after seeing a performance of Wind In The Willows and later trained as an actor in the (Royal) Welsh College of Music & Drama. I’ve been in bands and written songs since I was a teenager, and once I started creative writing around twenty years ago, a musical was a logical step, tho’ it took me some time to realise it.

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

My ideas seem to percolate for years. I try to create something I’d like to watch, and that I don’t think I’ve seen before… but those ideas are often outside the bounds of what people are prepared to commission. In terms of ideas, thinking about it, most of my writing is about real life stuff but then I like to drag it into left field.

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

I don’t like staring at a screen for too long. I have a young daughter so writing time is precious, and when I do have time to sit and write, I throw everything at the screen. Sometimes it’s better to clear your head by writing 1000 words of rubbish rather than nothing at all. It’s all in the editing. I find a good walk, or a drive, is often beneficial, recording ideas into a phone ready for those gaps in real life when writing happens.

Why and where do you write?

We live in an 18th century cottage in Laugharne and my office is downstairs with a view of the street. I’m surrounded by books, cards, pictures, ornaments – or ‘junk’ as my partner calls them – and often scan the shelves when I’m stuck. It looks a bit of a mess, but you should have seen it before I tidied up.

Your latest play Hail Cremation will be produced by National Theatre Wales at Newbridge Memo from the 23 March- 04 April. The production is described as a musical odyssey through the life of cremation pioneer, Dr William Price – a complex and extraordinary Welshman. What drew you personally to telling your interpretation of Dr William Price?

Like many I knew about the infamous cremation, but initially I wasn’t aware he was a ground-breaking surgeon, vegetarian, feminist, nationalist, radical, a dandy and clearly a genius. However, his eccentricities in later life meant that many of those elements were ignored. If Price was around today, he’d be an inspiring leader, passionate about history, language and culture and I wanted to celebrate him with a spectacle that he would have enjoyed. On reflection most of my work is about Welsh identity, and Price was probably the person who tried to define it more than anyone else in the last two hundred years.

National Theatre Wales describe the nation of Wales as their stage. Their productions have ranged from We’re Still Here portraying the lives of Neath Port Talbot Steel Workers. On Bear Ridge which took place in “a lost village, blurred by redrawn borders” to this new production taking place at Newbridge Memo. Do you feel that Welsh Theatre is presenting representative stories of its citizens on our stages?

I’m interested in stories and legends that are uniquely Welsh. Wales is definitely the ‘secret Celtic nation’, and yet we have one of the oldest literary traditions in Europe. There is an ancient, supernatural, magical, mythical, witty, wild and wide-eyed side to Wales – Wales on mushrooms if you like – which is unique to us. I think more plays in this area would help establish, and then cement a Welsh theatrical identity not only in Wales but around the world.

Why do you think audiences should see this new play?

It’s part gig, part catwalk show, part cabaret. It has a wonderful troupe of dancers and actors, a rock band, incredible costumes, mad props, druids, goats, punk toads, wall to wall video projections, and an astonishing creative team lead by director, Adele Thomas. Yet at its heart is the story of a man who wanted his people to thrive. Dr Price met a woman called Gwen who was sixty years his junior, and they were a very loving, if highly unusual couple. They’d be unusual now, so it’s hard to imagine what 19th century non-conformist Wales would have made of them. Price and Gwen lost a child, and I nearly lost my daughter, so I had a small understanding of the grief they must have gone through. Then when Price’s powers started to wane and he went through a number of ordeals, he continued to charge on with Gwen at his side. He lived for ninety-two years and it’s still amazing how he crammed so much in. People should see this play because it tells a story of a dynamic couple in a wild theatrical arena, is both fun and emotional, and has something to say about Welsh identity.

Is it possible to sustain a career as a writer in Wales and if not what would help?

If the question is: ‘Can someone who writes plays about Wales and Welsh issues sustain a living in Wales, or indeed, anywhere?’ Then apart from maybe one or two exceptions, the answer is probably no. There are a lot of playwrights in Wales chasing a small pot of money and Welsh writers probably need working partners, day jobs, lecturing posts, etc., to survive. What would help? I don’t really know. We’re unlikely to see more arts funding for a while as the Welsh Government is looking to reduce public subsidy. Trying to be positive, successful and profitable shows that reach beyond Wales, and that couldn’t come from anywhere other than Wales, would help. We need to find our voice.

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

There should be more development deals, so that writers are nurtured in plays, poetry, TV scriptwriting etc. More people need to feel they have a chance, get some feedback, be part of a dialogue, even if the ideas end up uncommissioned. There could always be more arts, but we also need to build and educate audiences too. It’s tough in this era of Netflix, deadly diseases, Just Eat and smartphones, but the more people that take an interest in the arts, the better off we’ll all be.

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

My daughter, Sylvie, has had two heart operations and spent five days on life support, so seeing her enter a pool for the first time in Butlin’s Minehead last weekend was a truly great thing.

Many Thanks for your time Jon.