Category Archives: Theatre

“Rwy’n cael fy nhynnu at nodweddion emosiynol a chorfforol y profiad dynol.” Cyfweliad â Hanna Lyn Hughes.

Clod i Noel Shelley

Helo Hanna, mae’n braf i gwrdd â chi. Allwch chi roi rhywfaint o wybodaeth i’n darllenwyr am eich cefndir os gwelwch yn dda?

Rwy’n ddawnsiwr llawrydd o Gaerdydd. Fe wnes i hyfforddi fel Aelod Cyswllt o’r Ysgol Ballet Frenhinol a Chwmni Dawns Cenedlaethol Cymru cyn mynychu Ysgol Ddawns Gyfoes Llundain yn 18 oed. Rwyf wedi gweithio gyda choreograffwyr gan gynnwys Crystal Pite, Caroline Finn a Dane Hurst ac wedi dawnsio gyda chwmnïau fel y Danish Dance Theatre a Just Us Dance Theatre, ac yn ddiweddar rwyf wedi ymuno â Ballet Cymru fel dawnsiwr cwmni.

Beth sbardunodd eich diddordeb yn y celfyddydau?

Rwyf wedi bod yn greadigol erioed. Gan amlaf yn yr ysgol, roeddwn yn dwdlan dros fy ngwaith cartref mathemateg ac yn creu dawnsiau disgo ar iard yr ysgol. Roeddwn hefyd wrth fy modd yn astudio Tecstilau a Drama Safon Uwch.

Clod i Sian Treberth

Rydych chi’n ddawnsiwr cwmni gyda Ballet Cymru ac ar hyn o bryd rydych chi’n gweithio gyda nhw i edrych ar ffyrdd o gefnogi cyflwyno dawns yn yr Iaith Gymraeg. Beth yw eich gobeithion a’ch uchelgeisiau ar gyfer y fenter newydd hon?


Yn dilyn cyfnod prawf llwyddiannus, rydym yn gyffrous i ail-ddechrau’r dosbarthiadau ballet dwyieithog i oedolion ar ôl y Pasg. Rwyf hefyd wedi bod yn dysgu Cymraeg i rai o aelodau’r cwmni; mae eu hyder wrth siarad yr iaith wedi cynyddu ac mae eu brwdfrydedd wedi bod yn galonogol iawn. Rydym bellach yn edrych ar fwy o ffyrdd o ymgorffori ymarfer dwyieithog ac mae hynny wedi cadarnhau i mi mai addysgu dawns yn ddwyieithog ddylai fod y ‘norm’ yng Nghymru. Os ydych yn ymarferydd dawns yng Nghymru, rwy’n erfyn arnoch i ystyried sut y gallwch ddefnyddio’r Gymraeg yn eich sesiynau. Gyda bron i 30% o’r boblogaeth yn gallu siarad a deall Cymraeg, mae’n werth yr ymdrech.

Pe bai dawnsiwr am aros ac ymarfer yng Nghymru cyn dilyn gyrfa, pa system gymorth fyddech chi’n awgrymu y byddai ei hangen arnynt er mwyn gallu gwneud hyn?


Mae mynychu eich ysgol ddawns leol yn le gwych i ddechrau ac os ydych yn ddigon ffodus i fod wedi’ch lleoli yn Ne Cymru, efallai y gallwch fynychu’r cynlluniau cyswllt sy’n cael eu rhedeg gan CDCCymru a Ballet Cymru. Ond nid yw’n bosibl hyfforddi’n alwedigaethol hyd at lefel broffesiynol yng Nghymru ar hyn o bryd, sy’n drueni mawr!

Llun o gynlluniau cyswllt Ballet Cymru
Clod i Sian Trenberth

O ran dilyn gyrfa mewn dawns, yng Nghymru, rwyf wedi canfod bod deall fy sgiliau a’r hyn y gallaf ei gynnig i sector Dawns Cymru yn bwysig iawn. Er enghraifft, mae cydnabod yr angen am ymarferwyr dawns sy’n siarad Cymraeg a darparu’r gwasanaeth hwnnw wedi fy ngalluogi i ennill profiad o greu coreograffi ac addysgu, ac mae wedi bod yn achubiaeth ariannol hefyd ar adegau. Wedi dweud hyn, rwy’n teimlo fy mod i’n cael fy ngwerthfawrogi a’m hystyried ar safon wahanol fel dawnsiwr oherwydd fy nghenedligrwydd a’r ffaith fy mod i’n siarad Cymraeg. Rwy’n teimlo’r un mor lwcus i gael cyfleoedd gan fy mod yn Gymraes, ond rwy’n poeni weithiau bod fy ngwaith yn cael ei werthfawrogi ar y sail honno’n unig. Rwyf wedi dod i delerau â’r teimladau hyn trwy groesawu’r llwyfannau sy’n cael eu cynnig i mi a’u hystyried fel cyfleoedd i herio rhagdybiaethau, ac i ragori ar ddisgwyliadau mewn rhai achosion. Rwy’n angerddol am fy etifeddiaeth a’m diwylliant ond nid yw’n diffinio fy ngwaith na’m hunaniaeth.Rwy’n angerddol am fy etifeddiaeth a’m diwylliant ond nid yw’n diffinio fy ngwaith na’m hunaniaeth.

Rydych chi’n artist sydd wedi gweithio gyda phobl greadigol o amrywiaeth o ffurfiau celf i greu perfformiadau artistig cyffrous yn y gorffennol. Sut fyddech chi’n disgrifio’ch ymarfer creadigol orau?

Rwy’n defnyddio ioga, hedfan yn isel a gwaith byrfyfyr yn fy ymarfer fy hun ac mae ansawdd fy symud fel arfer yn cael ei alw yn llyfn a chywrain. O ran coreograffi, rwy’n cael fy nhynnu at nodweddion emosiynol a chorfforol y profiad dynol, yn enwedig themâu marwoldeb a chreu. Rwy’n edrych ymlaen at ddatblygu’r syniadau hyn yn y dyfodol.

Clod i Erik Emanuel

A oes unrhyw enghreifftiau o systemau hyfforddi neu rwydweithiau cymorth sy’n bodoli mewn gwledydd eraill y gallai Cymru geisio eu defnyddio?

O ran systemau hyfforddi, dim ond dros y ffin i Loegr y mae’n rhaid i chi edrych i weld rhai enghreifftiau rhyfeddol. Byddai mentrau’r llywodraeth fel y cynllun CAT yn fuddiol iawn i Gymru, i fynd i’r afael â materion fel hygyrchedd a chysondeb mewn hyfforddiant. Mae angen sicrhau bod mwy o lwybrau ar gael i bobl ifanc sydd ag angerdd am symud i ymgymryd â gwaith creadigol ac ehangu eu haddysg dawns. Mae hyn hefyd yn cynnwys cael rhaglen hyfforddiant galwedigaethol i astudio dawns ar lefel broffesiynol.


Mae Get the Chance yn gweithio i gefnogi ystod amrywiol o aelodau’r cyhoedd i gael mynediad at ddarpariaeth ddiwylliannol. Ydych chi’n ymwybodol o unrhyw rwystrau y mae pobl greadigol yng Nghymru yn eu hwynebu? Os ydych chi, beth ellid ei wneud i gael gwared ar y rhwystrau hyn?

Un o’r rhwystrau rydw i wedi bod yn ymwybodol ohono’n y gorffennol fu’r diffyg ystyriaeth i ymarferwyr dawns mewn ardaloedd mwy gwledig yng Nghymru. Gan fod sefydliadau wedi gorfod addasu i ddulliau digidol o gynnal neu ffrydio eu digwyddiadau, mae’r ymarferwyr dawns hyn o’r diwedd wedi gallu mynychu digwyddiadau na fyddent wedi gallu mynd iddynt yn y gorffennol. Rwyf hefyd yn bersonol wedi gwerthfawrogi fy mod yn gallu cyrchu a gwylio perfformiadau wedi’u ffrydio’n fyw ar-lein ac er gwaethaf pwl achlysurol o ‘flinder Zoom’, rwy’n dal i obeithio y bydd sefydliadau’n parhau i gynnig o leiaf rai agweddau ar weithio/perfformio ar-lein.

 Pe byddech chi’n gallu ariannu maes o’r celfyddydau yng Nghymru pa faes fyddai hwnnw a pham?

Mae angen dirfawr am arian mewn llawer o feysydd ond hoffwn weld rhaglen hyfforddi broffesiynol gynhwysol ar gael yng Nghymru yn ogystal â gofod i uno lle gall dawnswyr greu, addysgu a pherfformio gyda’i gilydd (rhywbeth fel Dance City yn Newcastle)

Dance City, Newcastle.

Beth sy’n eich cyffroi am y celfyddydau yng Nghymru?

Mae wedi bod yn gyffrous gweld cymuned ddawns Cymru yn gweithio gyda’i gilydd i sefydlu cymuned fwy cysylltiedig o ddawnswyr trwy ddigwyddiadau rhwydweithio a thrafodaethau ar-lein. Edrychaf ymlaen at weld sut mae’r cysylltedd hwn yn digwydd yn Sector Ddawns flaengar ac amrywiol Cymru.

Beth oedd y peth gwirioneddol wych olaf i chi ei brofi yr hoffech ei rannu gyda’n darllenwyr?

Gwylio Revisor Crystal Pite a “BLKDOG” Far From the Norm fel rhan o Dance Nation. Mae’r ddau yn ddarnau rhyfeddol, ac maent ar gael i’w gwylio am ddim ar Iplayer.

Revisor Crystal Pite


“I find myself drawn to both the emotional and physical characteristics of the human experience” An Interview with Hanna Lyn Hughes.

Credit Noel Shelley

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

I’m a freelance dancer from Cardiff. I trained as an Associate of The Royal Ballet School and National Dance Company Wales before attending London Contemporary Dance School at 18. I’ve worked with choreographers including Crystal Pite, Caroline Finn and Dane Hurst and have danced with companies such as Danish Dance Theatre, Just Us Dance Theatre and have recently joined Ballet Cymru as a company dancer. You can find out more about me at my website

What got you interested in the arts?

I’ve been creative as long as I can remember. At school, I was more often than not doodling over my Maths homework and choreographing disco dancing routines in the school yard. I also loved studying Textiles and Drama at A Level.

Credit Sian Treberth

You are a company Dancer with Ballet Cymru and are currently working with them to look at ways to support dance delivery in the Welsh Language. What are your hopes and ambitions for this new initiative?

Following a successful trial period, we’re excited to bring the bilingual adult ballet classes back after Easter. I’ve also been teaching Welsh amongst the company members; their confidence in speaking the language has grown and their enthusiasm has been really heartwarming. We’re now looking at more ways to incorporate bilingual practice and it’s solidified my belief that teaching dance bilingually should be the norm in Wales. If you are a dance practitioner in Wales, I implore you to consider how you can include the use of the Welsh language in your practice. With almost 30% of the population able to speak and understand Welsh, it seems worth the effort.

If a dancer wanted to stay and train in Wales and then pursue a career, what support system would you suggest they require in order to be able to do this?

Attending your local dance school is a great place to start and if you’re fortunate enough to be based in South Wales, you may be able to attend the Associate schemes run by NDCWales and Ballet Cymru. But it’s not currently possible to train vocationally in Wales to a professional level which is a huge shame!

NDCWales Associates.
Ballet Cymru Associates, copyright Sian Trenberth Photography

In terms of pursuing a career in dance, in Wales, I’ve found understanding my skills and what I can offer the Welsh Dance sector to be really important. For example, recognising the need for Welsh speaking dance practitioners and providing that service has allowed me to gain choreographic and teaching experience and has at times been a financial lifeline. Having said this, I feel that as a dancer, I’m sometimes valued and held up to a different standard because of my nationality and the fact I speak Welsh. I feel equally lucky to be given opportunities because I’m Welsh but sometimes anxious that my work is valued exclusively on that basis. I’ve come to terms with these feelings by embracing the platforms I’m offered as opportunities to challenge assumptions and in some cases, surpass expectations. I’m passionate about my heritage and culture but it doesn’t define my work or my identity.

You’re an artist who has in the past worked with creatives from a range of art forms to create exciting artistic performances. How would you best describe your creative practice?

I draw upon yoga, flying low and improvisation in my own practice and my movement quality is usually described as fluid and intricate. In terms of choreography, I find myself drawn to both the emotional and physical characteristics of the human experience, in particular themes of mortality and creation. I’m looking forward to developing these ideas in future.

Credit Viktor Erik Emanuel


 Are there any examples of training systems or support networks that exist in other nations that Wales could look to utilise?

In terms of training systems, you only have to look across the border to England for some amazing examples. Government initiatives like the CAT scheme would be very beneficial for Wales, to tackle issues like accessibility and consistency in training. There needs to be more pathways made available for young people with passion for movement to engage in creative work and broaden their dance education. This also includes having a vocational training program to study dance at a professional level.

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision. Are you aware of any barriers that creatives in Wales face? If you are, what might be done to remove these barriers?

One of the barriers I’ve been aware of in the past has been the lack of consideration for dance practitioners based in more rural areas of Wales. With organisations having had to adapt to digital means of hosting or streaming their events, these dance practitioners have finally been able to attend events that they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to in the past. I’ve also personally really valued being able to access and watch live streamed performances online and despite the occasional bout of ‘Zoom fatigue’, I still hope organisations continue to offer at least some aspects of working/performing online.

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

There are lots of areas in desperate need of funding but I would particularly like to see an inclusive professional training program available in Wales as well as a unifying space in which dancers can create, educate and perform together (something like Dance City in Newcastle)

Dance City, Newcastle.

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

It’s been exciting to see the Welsh dance community working together to establish a more connected community of dancers via online networking events and discussions. I look forward to seeing how this connectivity materialises in a progressive, diverse Welsh Dance Sector.

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

Watching Crystal Pite’s Revisor and Far From the Norm’s “BLKDOG” as part of Dance Nation. Both extraordinary pieces, available to watch for free on BBC Iplayer.

Crystal Pite’s Revisor

“Working outdoors is a great option for providing safer access to arts and this can then be a draw for people to return to the theatre.” An Interview with Kate Lawrence and Joanna Wright

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

Kate: I was born in London and spent my early years in Tanzania and Mexico before returning to the UK aged 11 to go to a quaker boarding school in North Yorkshire.  After school I trained as a dancer at Thamesdown Contemporary Dance Studios in Swindon and then did a BA in Dance Theatre at Laban, in London.  Then I started a feminist dance company called Nomads which ran from 1989 – 1995, doing performance and education work.  When the company ended I spent a few years doing all sorts of things, car maintenance courses, creative writing courses, stunt training, delivery driving, caretaking.  Then I got a job as a dance lecturer at University of Surrey where I spent 10 years. In 2010 I moved to North Wales to be in the mountains and feed my passion for rock climbing.  I got a part-time job at Bangor University as a lecturer in performance.  During the 10 years I have spent here, I began my own vertical dance company, Vertical Dance Kate Lawrence (VDKL). 

Joanna: I’m an artist from North Wales, I grew up on the coast near Conwy. I left Wales when I was a teenager to study art. I ended up living in the USA, working in a really eclectic range of jobs that included furniture maker, running a market stall, selling pizzas, working in a shoe repair shop, photographer for the US government and then working in the art department of film and theatre productions. In 2001, shortly after September 11th, I got a job as a videographer on a sailing boat doing a global circumnavigation, as part of an pioneering interactive, online education project. That was a turning point that eventually bought me back to Wales and took me into working in documentary, in many different forms.

What got you interested in the arts?

Kate: I come from a family of professional musicians on my father’s side (although my father was an amateur) and my mother is a visual artist and potter so I grew up in an arty environment.  I did a lot of dancing alone in my bedroom as a child – the pandemic has reminded me of this as I have returned to my bedroom as a dance studio.  I think what I love about the arts is that it is really a way of thinking, a way of being in the world that is centred on experience, expression and communication.

Joanna: I grew up with a parent who had a severe mental illness. In the 80’s in North Wales mental health services were poor to non-existent, both for those with mental illness, and their families. In the arts I found a way to express ideas and connect with others that I hadn’t been able to previously. I specifically credit the generosity of the wonderful artist and teacher Dave Pearson who I met as a young art student, he saw some of the weight I was carrying at that time and encouraged me to tell stories with my work and experiences, and also to find playful ways to get it out into the world.

Kate I believe you are working on a new project called ‘Portrait and Landscape’ its described as  “a series of online bi-monthly events for the international vertical dance community and beyond. It was conceived by Wanda Moretti in collaboration with Kate Lawrence and Lindsey Butcher. The series runs bi-monthly until the end of October 2021 “.

For those who may be new to the term what is ‘Vertical Dance’ and how did you come to be involved ?

Kate: Vertical dance is a newish term that refers to dancing in suspension – the dancer is suspended using climbing or access equipment, such as harnesses, ropes and abseil devices.  Often this is against a vertical wall (hence the term vertical) which becomes the ‘dance floor’.  So it often takes place in public space, on the sides of buildings. 

I got involved with vertical dance when I started climbing in the late 1990s – as part of training to be a stunt woman (that never happened!).   I found the movement of climbing very similar to dance and when I began teaching at the University of Surrey I asked if I could run a module called vertical dance.  That began in 2001 and was the beginning of my development of the practice.  I began teaching dancers to climb in the climbing wall and getting them to develop choreography from that and then gradually I introduced suspended dancing.  In 2005 I embarked on PhD study into vertical dance and that led me to meet other vertical dance artists from around the world.  The first two I met were Wanda Moretti from Venice and UK- based Lindsey Butcher, and we are still working together.  I finally finished my PhD in 2017 – it took me a long time because I was working and creating at the same time!

Kate, what is your ambition for Portrait and Landscape?

 During the pandemic it has been impossible to do vertical dance practice for me and I spent 2020 doing other things – gardening mostly and some writing – this has been quite a healthy break from a very busy time.  This series of events was the brainchild of my colleague Wanda Moretti and she invited Lindsey and I to collaborate with her on running it. 

Wanda Moretti

The ambition is to bring international vertical dance artists – and anyone else who might be interested – together at a time when we are all isolated and distanced.  The current time is an opportunity to connect across borders and learn about how different artists practice the form and also to keep our artistic minds working!  My company, VDKL, has received some funding from Wales Arts International to support this project which means we have offered 3 bursaries to Welsh artists.  It also enables us to explore making the series more accessible.

You are both working on a project researching into Dance for people who are blind, this sounds fascinating please tell me more!

Kate:  Yes, Jo and I are working on a project called Yn y Golau/In-visible Light, which began in 2016 as a collaboration between myself and photonics scientist Ray Davies – a Synthesis project funded by Pontio

Pontio (Bangor) - 2021 All You Need to Know Before You Go (with Photos) -  Bangor, Wales | Tripadvisor
Pontio

Photonics is the science of light – I didn’t know that until I met Ray.  The project developed and in 2019 we did a research and development project funded by ACW with a couple of test performances.  Our purpose was to make a show that tried to build accessibility for blind and partially sighted people into the creation process, rather than audio describing a finished product.  It was a huge challenge and we were assisted by a visually impaired actor and aerialist, Amelia Cavallo. 

Amelia Cavallo

We constantly asked ourselves: what would this experience be like if we couldn’t see?  And this led to some new ways of working for me as a choreographer.  Sometimes I would close my eyes and listen to the dance…  It also reminded me that dance is a kinetic art form not a visual one.  Sometimes I think we focus more on shapes we see than movements we feel.  We invited blind audiences to the test performances and then interviewed them afterwards to get feedback on how successful our approach was.  We then received further funding from ACW to develop a touring show, but the pandemic has made us change our plans. We are now working on a film and we also have some seed funding from Clwstwr to do further research into access for blind and visually impaired people to performance.

Joanna: Kate first asked me to work on Yn Y Golau as a documentary filmmaker. In my work in documentary I’m especially interested in how new technologies can be used in storytelling. In Yn Y Golau I felt there was potential to explore how to share the work in an interactive, non linear way, which might better enable us to think about how to move beyond the screen, and think more deeply about how the embodied experience, that was central to Kate’s live work, can be expressed or shared digitally. There are also a lot of documentary elements in the project, and we are exploring how the project audience can choose which aspects they want to engage with.

Prior to this project did you have any knowledge of areas such as audio description for theatre/dance?

Kate: Yes, I first started thinking about audio description back around 2008 when I was asked to do a workshop at an audio description seminar at University of Surrey.  The topic then lay dormant for me for several years, and then in 2016 I was asked by Mari Emlyn to make a piece of work for the foyer of Galeri.  It was the year of the centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth and so we made a new story built from the drawings of primary school children of their favourite Roald Dahl characters.  The piece was called Omnibus and was performed in the foyer of Galeri with the dancers flying in the space overhead. 

We created a bilingual (Welsh and English) recorded audio description alongside the soundscore so that everyone in the audience could hear it.  From our current research I know that this is sometimes referred to as ‘open audio description’.  The traditional method is that an audio describer is in a booth describing events as they unfold, straight into the ears of the visually impaired person, who wears headphones.  Headphones can however be distancing, muffling and isolating so I felt it was important to search for ways in which to make the work with accessibility built in.

Joanna: Absolutely none, and that is really motivating me. When I started looking and learning about it, I am not proud to say, I realised how I had never really considered this aspect in any meaningful way. I know I was also, unfortunately, in a majority.

If a dancer wanted to stay and train in Wales and then pursue a career, what support system would you suggest they require in order to be able to do this?

Kate: I can only speak for North Wales, where it is virtually impossible at present for a dancer to train in the conventional, vocational sense – I think there is more capacity in South Wales, but even there options are limited.  To make a career entirely in Wales I think it is necessary to take every opportunity available and to be very self-motivated and resourceful.  VDKL employs mainly North Wales based dancers, who I have trained in vertical dance techniques.  This is because I want to build a community here, however small it is!  The dancers I work with have trained in dance outside Wales and returned.  I also want to provide employment opportunities for local artists and persuade them to stick around!  My company used to run affordable twice weekly training sessions of 3 hours each but we lost our space in 2017, and now with the pandemic training has become impossible.  But we are hopeful for the future – the beauty of vertical dance is that we can go outside!  In an ideal world a dancer building a career in Wales needs regular affordable access to dance training sessions and also affordable access to space to dance.  A vocational/degree programme would also be very helpful.

 Are there any examples of training systems or support networks that exist in other nations that Wales could look to utilise?

Kate: France has a great system of support for artists that pays them whilst they are ‘resting’ between jobs.  This gives them time and financial support to continue their training and professional development.  Many European countries have arts centres that offer space and residencies for artists.  Access to affordable space to practice is essential and it would be great if each region of Wales had dedicated spaces or ‘homes’ for dance.   I have been doing daily practice sessions during lockdown with Wainsgate Dances in Hebden Bridge, England and this is an excellent example of an artist-led initiative that has built a community of dancers who are now contributing to the provision of residencies for other artists at the centre.

Joanna: I’ve been very inspired by people who have built their own networks where none exist. I’m part of the Arts Territory Exchange project, it facilitates collaborations in remote locations that are cut off from the networks which usually sustain a creative practice. I think as an artist  it’s very important  to be part of a community of support, to develop and challenge your work and ideas, and to share skills with others. There are some great DIY examples out there, the  Artist Residency in Motherhood set up by Lenka Clayton is another inspirational network

What does Wales do well in dance or cultural training and delivery?

Kate: In my experience support for the arts in Wales is a friendlier affair than my previous experience in London and the South of England.  I have found local venue managers and programmers to be great collaborators and the Arts Council of Wales officers are approachable.  I think cultural training and delivery in Wales is ‘on a shoestring’; the positive side of this is that it is extremely adaptable and mobile – it has to be due to the geographically dispersed activities.  But it needs centres too, and not just in Cardiff. The bizarre thing is that it is quicker to get to London than Cardiff for North Wales dance artists looking for training. 

Joanna: In my experience Wales supports it’s creatives well and gets a lot out of small budgets. However there are real impacts currently in relation to access to arts education, and the financial barriers for those who want to study. I feel strongly that this will further negatively impact diversity in the cultural sector. About the centres that Kate mentions, I’d say something about the impact of Covid this last year, there has been more cross Wales collaborative working, in my experience, which is great, but the Cardiff region still has a hegemony in terms of cultural projects, and I’d like to see that be distributed more widely across Wales.

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision. Are you aware of any barriers that creatives in Wales face? If you are what might be done to remove these barriers?

Kate: Well we are working on access for blind and partially sighted audiences.  Our research so far is showing that provision for these audiences, particularly for dance, is very limited.  A perceived barrier is that it costs of a lot of money to provide access and independent artists/small companies with very limited resources can’t afford to spend extra money; this is also true for the larger companies.  I would like to  challenge artists to see how they might begin to build accessibility into their work so that it can be appreciated by all.  A big barrier for many in rural areas is getting to and from performances, so any schemes that provide transport can be really helpful. 

Joanna: To build on my comments above, barriers to access can be many, including financial, but there’s also a lot of potential positive learning from the online way of working that’s been adopted because of Covid. Personally, as a carer and parent of a school age child I’ve been able to take part a lot more, due to events being online. It would be a shame for this to be abandoned when things open up physically, because in my opinion it’s cracked open cultural provision MUCH more widely.  I’d like to see ways of live-online access being continued for people who can more easily engage in this way, and supporting people where access to stable internet is an issue.

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

Kate: I think first and foremost, theatres need to ensure that they are safe spaces and then market that fact very clearly.  Perhaps look at small, socially distanced audiences, and commissioning work for this kind of audience.  Working outdoors is a great option for providing safer access to arts and this can then be a draw for people to return to the theatre. 

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

Kate:  Dance of course!  I think dance is always the Cinderella of the arts and tends to receive less subsidy.  We all have bodies – we all move – and our physical and mental well being can be enhanced through dancing.   I would love to see the creation of small dance centres around the country so that local artists and the community in general have somewhere to meet and dance.  They don’t have to be for dance exclusively, but should provide the space necessary for dance – and rigging points for vertical dance of course.  

Joanna: Really good interdisciplinary arts education. The studio based art college system that supported so much groundbreaking creative work across the UK has been decimated. Artists are great problem solvers, and skills in the arts are widely transferable.

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

Kate: I love the maverick nature of the arts in Wales.  People are making work in the most surprising places and this gives rise to exciting new techniques and approaches.

Joanna: It’s collaborative & supportive, there’s some great, innovative work happening in cross disciplinary settings. The arts in Wales is embedded into our culture in quite a unique way, the Urdd does amazing work with children and young people. There were 12000 creative works across music, dance, spoken word and visual arts made by children who entered the online Eisteddfod T this year for example- That’s amazing!

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

Kate: In our last Portrait and Landscape event San Francisco based choreographer Jo Kreiter shared with us her project called ‘The Decarceration Trilogy’ a long term project looking at the US prison system and its effects on citizens.  It was a really moving and inspiring offering to our community and a great example of the power of dance and the arts in general as a tool for examining issues of social justice.  Here is a clip of Jo talking about her work in general

and here is a link to a film of The Wait Room that she showed during our event: 

Joanna: I am currently a research fellow at the Open Documentary Lab, MIT where I recently saw a presentation of Hatsumi VR It is an amazing  project in development that uses virtual reality to allow participants to visually express experiences of pain, emotion and sensory experience in audio visual body maps.

Review The Picture of Dorian Gray, Theatr Clwyd by Barbara Hughes-Moore

To exist, socially, at this moment in time, we have to live online, disembodied and digitized, encased within the four corners of a Zoom call. Siloed away, with nowhere to go and no-one to see, it’s unsurprising that we’ve looked to social media as a sanctuary; a digital lifeboat in a shared storm. But while it might give the illusion of solidarity, it can also make you feel the most alone you’ve ever felt in your life, and the gulf between the digital self and the ‘real’ grows wider with every like, comment, and subscribe.

It’s a duality that Theatr Clwyd’s clever and inventive adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray revels in. Directed by Tamara Harvey and written by Henry Filloux-Bennett, this online play is an ambitious co-production between Theatr Clwyd, Barn Theatre, Lawrence Batley Theatre, New Wolsey Theatre and Oxford Playhouse, and features a star-studded cast including Russell Tovey, Alfred Enoch, Joanna Lumley and Stephen Fry (whose very appearance is something of an easter egg).

Not only does this version update Dorian Gray for the Instagram age, it sets most of the action in 2020 when its characters (and cast), like the rest of us, were in self-isolation. Sleekly made and brilliantly performed, it plays out in a series of FaceTimes, YouTube videos, Insta Stories, and interviews with the surviving characters. It’s an incredibly involving piece in the same vein as other internet-set mysteries like Catfish, Searching, and Unfriended, but with the kind of quality that you only find in a truly excellent piece of theatre.

This Dorian (Fionn Whitehead) starts out as a sweetly naïve English lit undergrad trying to make it big on YouTube, aided by his rakish BFF Harry Wotton (Enoch), family friend Lady Narborough (Lumley), and besotted benefactor Basil Hallward (Tovey). Basil, a closeted programmer who’s made little effort to conceal his feelings for Dorian, plies him with gifts – clothes, mobile data, a smart phone – and offers him a very special filter that will ensure his pictures will remain ever flawless and ageless: “a perfect digital Dorian”. There’s no catch, because the price is something that carries little currency in the digital age: your soul.

Filters give the illusion of perfection. They are insidious because they are invisible, and they make you feel as if being beautiful and happy and successful is natural for everyone in the world but you. Uploading a selfie to the digital panopticon takes deliberation, intent, and often deceit: the background, the lighting, the clothes, the hair and makeup, the filter – even the most spontaneous looking snap is a meticulously oiled machine. As Basil says, we spend our lives comparing ourselves to everyone else’s highlights. The greatest trick the influencers ever pulled was convincing the world that they woke up like this.

In many ways, the amorphous, abstract identity of social media is embodied by Basil himself, who becomes both the painter and the canvas. Basil, who we rarely see ‘in the flesh’, is simultaneously omniscient and insidious. Tovey, one of the finest actors working today, is characteristically magnificent here – but I’m not sure how I feel about Basil, rather than Harry, being Dorian’s tempter. In the novel, Basil didn’t want Dorian’s soul, he wanted his heart. But, perhaps, in order to translate the essence of the story, it’s necessary to share some of Harry’s original menace with Basil, turning the sombre, soulful painter of Wilde’s original into a low-key Svengali.

The mechanism of the Faustian bargain is reversed here too – the painting in the novel preserved Dorian at his peak, and grew more decrepit as his sins accrued, but here the filter enhances Dorian’s onscreen beauty while his flesh rots in the real world. The visual effects marking Dorian’s physical decline are brilliant and subtle – I truly couldn’t tell whether it was makeup or CGI – and Whitehead’s transformation into a Sargon of Akkad or Onision-esque shock jock is genuinely unsettling (the moment where he starts glitching between his two faces was particularly eerie). What’s less convincing however is his success as a social media influencer.

‘What if Joe Sugg became Jake Paul?’ That’s seemingly the question posed by the play, and we’re told from the outset that wherever Dorian goes, he charms the world – but that’s simply not the impression we get from the sweet, sensitive, introvert presented here. And his rapid rise to fame never fully convinces, because while his clothes get progressively fancier, his manner, home studio set-up, and even the editing style never rings true (the fairy lights on his shelf were a nice touch, though). Emma McDonald’s Sibyl Vane is far more authentic: McDonald captures Sibyl’s kindness and her fragility, and she really nails the Insta aesthetic right down to the dreamy line delivery and the flower crowns.

Sibyl tragically falls prey to the toxic celebrity culture normalized by Harry (Enoch), rebranded here as a louche Made in Chelsea-esque socialite who lives the decadent lifestyle of a reality star. Enoch  gives easily the most entertaining performance in the play, not to mention the most authentic interpretation of his literary counterpart, sprawled across a velvet chaise-lounge and elegantly sassing the ‘incessant’ barrage of theatre livestreams in #Lockdown1 like a latter-day Contrapoints.

His scenes with Whitehead and Tovey are mesmeric; Filloux-Bennett transforms the subtextual queer yearning underscoring the novel into text, and even separated by a screen, a Wi-Fi connection, and who knows how many miles, the chemistry between the central trio is off the charts. Wilde once confessed that he could ‘resist everything except temptation’. Social media is a creature of temptation, luring you in with a clickbait headline or an exclusive tell-all. It promises everything and gives nothing. It can facilitate cruelty without conscience or consequence and lives have been ruined, lost and taken. And none of us can say it’s not our fault: responsibility is fragmented between everyone who takes part in and enables this vicious culture of competition.

Lumley, sublime as always, delivers a monologue on how social media is ‘viral’ in every sense of the word: a poisonous contagion that’s infected the whole world. But just as The Picture of Dorian Gray showcases the internet’s ugliness, it also illustrates its beauty: its ability to connect people from across the globe in the shared experience of storytelling. Far from the isolating spiral of the doom scroll, this production illustrates the joy of collaboration, of creativity, and of art persevering in the darkest of times.

The Picture Of Dorian Gray | Theatr Clwyd is streaming online until Wed 31 March. Tickets are £12 each (one per household) including a digital programme and 48 hour access that allows for flexible viewing.

An Interview with Actor and Director Eleri B. Jones, conducted by Gareth Williams

In this latest interview, Get the Chance member Gareth Williams chats to actor and director Eleri B. Jones.

Eleri is a graduate of the University of Manchester and Drama Centre London. She is currently undertaking a traineeship with Theatr Clwyd as an Assistant Director.

Here, she talks to us about the traineeship; her involvement in Clwyd’s latest production, The Picture of Dorian Gray; a collaborative project with the North East Wales archives*; and representation and the arts in Wales.

To find out more about The Picture of Dorian Gray, including how to purchase tickets, click here.

*Below is one of four videos produced by Theatr Clwyd in collaboration with the North East Wales Archives as part of the project ‘Women Rediscovered…’. To watch them all, click here to access their YouTube channel.

Get the Chance supports volunteer critics like Gareth to access a world of cultural provision. We receive no ongoing, external funding. If you can support our work please donate here thanks.

Interview conducted
by Gareth Williams

Review, Faina and The Snow Beast, Scratchworks Theatre Company and Jack Dean, By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

This year has been the year of the audio. Scratchworks Theatre Company have brought their original stage play, written by Jack Dean to an audio tale with accompanied Science experiments for children.

Combined in a couple of audio sections, Faina and The Snow Beast features the tale of an Orphan, Faina, who dreams of becoming a scientists. Raised by the owl who found her abandoned, Maud, who believes in the magical and extraordinary, the two, with the help of Faina’s mother’s journal, undertake the most exciting adventure full of trials and tribulations to find The Snow Beast.

The story is very easy to get into. Able to download, you can dip and dive into the story whenever you want to. With the talented voices of Scratchworks, a range of different character’s are animated within our consciousness with the use of accents and skillful voice acting, evoking images and fueling our imaginations of the character’s and their adventure.

Known for their brilliant voices and musical styling, Scratchworks bring in magical yet homely and folk like music to accompany the story, making the atmosphere and the story feel sensational, with a Disney-like quality to the story in drumming up visions of the adventure.

Punctuated with their science pack, children are able to listen to the story and are encouraged and inspired to follow Scratchworks and make their own scientific experiments. The story highlights that science and the extraordinary are not necessarily different to one another. Maud states something along the lines of why should you only have the choice of belief in science or of the magical and unusual. By bringing the two together in a theatrical story telling and with science to attempt, children and adults alike can enjoy the magic of science and stories.

Faina and The Snow Beast aims itself at children, but adults are also fully taken away to far away lands, flying in hot air balloons and feeling the blizzardy atmosphere The Snow Beast creates. A joyous and sensational story.

Cartref / Home: yn rhannu gwaith a grëwyd fel rhan o brosiect ar y cyd rhwng Theatr Mess up the Mess a Chanolfan Celfyddydau Pontardawe

Comisiynu graddedigion celfyddydau diweddar a chyn-aelodau Theatr Mess Up The Mess i gydweithio â phobl ifanc er mwyn creu gwaith gyda Chanolfan Celfyddydau Pontardawe i’w rannu’n ddigidol

Mae Canolfan Celfyddydau Pontardawe wedi comisiynu Mess Up The Mess i gydweithio â thri gweithiwr llawrydd sydd wedi graddio’n ddiweddar ac sy’n artistiaid sy’n prysur wneud enw iddynt eu hunain, er mwyn cefnogi datblygiad eu harfer cyfranogol a’u gwaith creadigol eu hunain. Yr artistiaid sy’n amlygu yw Cerian Wilshere-Davies, Callum Bruce-Phillips a Ciaran Fitzgerald, pob un yn gyn-aelodau o Gwmni Theatr Mess up the Mess.

Bu’r artistiaid yn gweithio gyda grwpiau o bobl ifanc er mis Ionawr 2021 ac maen nhw’n paratoi ar gyfer noson o rannu digidol, lle byddan nhw’n rhannu’r gwaith maen nhw wedi bod yn ei greu. Bydd Cartref / Home ar gael i’w wylio ar-lein ar 25 Mawrth am 7pm.

Mae Mess Up The Mess yn arbennig o gyffrous ynghylch gweithio ochr yn ochr â’r artistiaid ifainc hyn, gan eu bod nhw wedi bod yn aelodau er yn 12-14 oed ac wedi bod ar siwrnai o 10 mlynedd a mwy gyda’r cwmni.

Mae’r Prosiect Cartref / Home yn archwiliothema ‘cartref’ a defnyddio comedi i gael hwyl gartref. Bu’r artistiaid a’r bobl ifanc yn creu eu mannau ffantasi eu hunain sy’n gwneud iddyn nhw deimlo’n hapus, yn ddwl, yn anturus neu’n ddiogel. Bu’r grwpiau’n archwilio ffantasi, chwedlau a’r mannau a’r bydoedd yr ydym yn eu dewis yn gartref, ac yn paratoi i rannu’r gwaith maen nhw wedi bod yn ei greu ar-lein.

Maen nhw wedi holi cwestiynau fel  – pa dirweddau, gwrthrychau a chymeriadau fyddech chi’n hoffi eu rhithio yn eich lle chi? Pa fath o amgylchedd sy’n gwneud i chi deimlo’n gyffrous? Ym mha fath o amgylchedd ydych chi eisiau chwarae neu fod yn ddwl? Efallai mai natur yw’ch amgylchedd chi, lle gyda llawer o greaduriaid a phobl neu efallai man dan do yn arbennig ar eich cyfer chi. Efallai bod y mannau hyn yn heddychlon ac yn dawel neu efallai eu bod yn rhywle sy’n ddoniol iawn i chi.

Mae Callum Bruce-Phillips wedi ennill gradd mewn Astudiaethau Ffilm a Theledu/Llenyddiaeth Saesneg o Brifysgol Aberystwyth ac ar hyn o bryd mae’n gweithio tuag at ei radd MA mewn Cynhyrchu Ffilm. Mae Ciaran Fitzgerald yn awdur ac yn hwylusydd o Bort Talbot. Ysgrifennodd ei ddrama gyntaf yn 2013 i Mess Up The Mess, ac nid ydyw wedi edrych nôl. Yn 2019 graddiodd o Brifysgol De Cymru yng Nghaerdydd gyda BA mewn Sgriptio. Mae Cerian Wilshere-Davies yn hwylusydd, yn wneuthurwr theatr ac yn gomedïwraig, a graddiodd o Brifysgol Salford y ddiweddar.

Mae’r artistiaid yn hwyluso ac yn arwain datblygiad gwaith y bobl ifanc eu hunain, ochr yn ochr â chreu eu gwaith eu hunain. Cyfarwyddwr Artistig Mess up the Mess, Sarah Jones, sydd wedi bod yn mentora’r tîm. Roedd y comisiwn yn cynnwys dosbarthiadau meistr mewn meysydd sy’n gysylltiedig â’r prosiect creadigol; gweithio’n ddwyieithog gyda Bethan Marlow, gwneud ffilmiau mewn ffordd gyfranogol gyda Tom Barrance a dulliau cynhwysol o greu celf ddigidol gyda Taking Flight.

Meddai Ciaran Fitzgerald am y dosbarthiadau meistr;

Roedd ein gweithdai gyda Tom Barrance bendant wedi cynyddu fy hyder yn gwneud ffilmiau byr. O’n i ddim wedi gwneud llawer o olygu fideos o’r blaen, a gydag arweiniad Tom dwi’n bles iawn gyda beth ‘nes i gynhyrchu, a fyddai bendant yn ei ychwanegu i fy ymarfer yn y dyfodol. Ar ôl ein sesiwn gyda Bethan Marlow, teimlais fod y rhwystrau i weithio’n ddwyieithog wedi cael eu chwalu. Roedd Bethan wedi neud yr holl gyd-destun yn gynhwysol iawn, ac wedi cyflwyno strategaethau defnyddiol iawn bydda i bendant yn eu defnyddio yn fy ymarfer yn y dyfodol. Roedd gweithdy Taking Flight ar sail cynhwysiant yn ddefnyddiol ac yn bleserus iawn. Dwi’n meddwl ‘naeth Elise a Steph atgyfnerthu pethau o’n i eisoes yn gwybod, ond hefyd ‘nes i ddysgu pethau newydd am gynhwysiant yn y celfyddydau, a hefyd falle herio rhai o’n canfyddiadau i. Dwi bendant isho gweithredu BSL a Sain Ddisgrifiad yn fy ngwaith yn y dyfodol.

Meddai Sarah Jones, Cyfarwyddwr Artistig Mess Up The Mess:

“Rydyn ni’n gyffrous iawn ynghylch y prosiect hwn am gymaint o resymau, gan gynnwys y cyfle i gomisiynu artistiaid sydd wedi dod trwy Mess Up The Mess. Dw i’n cofio cwrdd â phob un o’r artistiaid hyn a dw i wedi cael y fraint o ddysgu a chydweithio ochr yn ochr â nhw dros y ddeng mlynedd ddiwethaf. Rydyn ni’n aruthrol o ddiolchgar i Ganolfan Celfyddydau Pontardawe am y cyfle i barhau i gydweithio ar lefel broffesiynol gyda nhw i’w galluogi i fynd ar drywydd eu hymarfer ar adeg mor anodd i’r celfyddydau ac i bobl ifanc. Maen nhw’n bobl greadigol neilltuol sy’n llawn ysbrydoliaeth ac mae ganddynt y pŵer i ysbrydoli ac i ddatblygu lle diogel a lle sy’n meithrin ar gyfer ein cyfranogwyr ifanc er mwyn creu gwaith newydd a gofalu am eu llesiant.”

Bydd Cartref / Home yn cael ei ffrydio ar-lein ar 25 Mawrth 2021 am 7pm. Gallwch brynu tocynnau trwy Ganolfan Celfyddydau Pontardawe: https://pontardaweartscentre.ticketsolve.com/shows/1173609478

Rhagor o wybodaeth am yr artistiaid

Cerian Wilshere-Davies

Mae Cerian yn hwylusydd, yn wneuthurwr theatr ac yn gomedïwraig, ac mae wedi graddio’n ddiweddar o Brifysgol Salford gyda gradd dosbarth 1af mewn Ysgrifennu a Pherfformio Comedi. Mae gan Cerian ddiddordeb mewn creu gwaith sy’n canolbwyntio ar dreftadaeth Cymru a mynegi hunaniaeth.

Callum Bruce-Phillips

Mae Callum wedi graddio o Brifysgol Aberystwyth gyda gradd mewn Astudiaethau Ffilm a Theledu/Llenyddiaeth Saesneg, ac ar hyn o bryd mae’n gweithio tuag at ei radd MA mewn Cynhyrchu Ffilm. Yn ystod ei radd israddedig, gweithiodd Callum gyda Chanolfan Ehangu Cyfranogiad, Cydraddoldeb a Chynhwysiant Cymdeithasol y Brifysgol, lle bu’n gweithio gyda phobl ifanc a phobl hyglwyf o gefndiroedd gwahanol sydd wedi eu tangynrychioli. Mae’r profiad hwn wedi ysbrydoli Callum i ddilyn gyrfa fel gwneuthurwr ffilmiau cymunedol sy’n canolbwyntio ar ehangu mynediad yn y diwydiant ffilm i grwpiau sy’n cael eu tangynrychioli ar hyn o bryd.

Ciaran Fitzgerald

Awdur a hwylusydd o Bort Talbot yw Ciaran. Ysgrifennodd ei ddrama gyntaf yn 2013 i Mess Up The Mess, ac nid ydyw wedi edrych nôl.  Yn 2019 graddiodd o Brifysgol De Cymru yng Nghaerdydd gyda gradd BA mewn Sgriptio, ac ar hyn o bryd mae’n datblygu’r ddrama gyntaf i gael ei chomisiynu ganddo, sef ‘Chasing Rainbows’ gyda Chanolfan Celfyddydau Pontardawe. Mae gan Ciaran ddiddordeb mewn datblygu gwaith â chymeriadau cryf wrth ei galon, sydd wedi ei anelu’n benodol at bobl ifanc. Ag yntau’n siaradwr Cymraeg rhugl mae hunaniaeth yn agwedd allweddol ar y gwaith y mae’n ei greu, ynghyd ag egwyddorion allweddol mynediad a chynhwysiant.

Cartref / Home: sharing work created as part of a collaboration between Mess up the Mess Theatre and Pontardawe Arts Centre

Recent arts graduates and alumni of Mess Up The Mess Theatre commissioned to collaborate with young people to create digital sharing with Pontardawe Art Centre

Mess Up The Mess have been commissioned by Pontardawe Art Centre to collaborate with three recent graduate freelancers and emerging artists to support the development of both their participatory practice and own creative work. The emerging artists are Cerian Wilshere-Davies, Callum Bruce-Phillips and Ciaran Fitzgerald, all alumni of Mess up the Mess Theatre Company.

The artists have been working with groups of young people since January 2021 and are preparing for an evening of digital sharing of the work they have been creating. Cartref / Home will be available to watch online on 25th March at 7pm.

Mess Up The Mess are particularly excited about working alongside these young artists as they have all been members since they were 12-14 years old and have been on a journey of 10+ years with the company.

The ProjectCartref / Home explores the theme of home and using comedy to have fun at home. The artists and young people have been creating their own fantasy spaces that make them feel happy, silly, adventurous or safe. Exploring fantasy, folklore and the spaces and worlds we choose to make home, the groups have been getting ready to share the work they’ve been creating online.

Asking questions like – what landscapes, objects and characters would you like to imagine up in your space? What kind of environment makes you excited? What kind of environment do you want to play or be silly in? Maybe it’s in nature, in a space with lots of other creatures and people or maybe it’s an indoor space that is just for you. These spaces might be calm and quiet, or they might be somewhere that you find really funny.

Callum Bruce-Phillips is a Film & TV Studies/English Literature graduate from Aberystwyth University and is currently working towards his MA in Film Producing. Ciaran Fitzgerald is a writer and facilitator from Port Talbot. He wrote his first play in 2013 for Mess Up The Mess, and hasn’t looked back. In 2019 he graduated from the BA Scriptwriting degree at the University of South Wales in Cardiff. Cerian Wilshere-Davies is a facilitator, theatre maker and comedian, recently graduated from the University of Salford.

The artists are facilitating and guiding the development of the young people’s own work, alongside creating their own. Mess up the Mess Artistic Director Sarah Jones has been mentoring the team. The commission has included masterclasses in areas linked to the creative project; working bilingually with Bethan Marlow, participatory film makingwith Tom Barrance and inclusive approaches to making digital art with Taking Flight.

Ciaran Fitzgerald said of the masterclasses;

“Our workshops with Tom Barrance definitely increased my confidence in terms of filmmaking. I hadn’t done much video editing previously and with Tom’s guidance I’m really pleased with what I produced, and will definitely add it to my practice in the future.  After our session with Bethan Marlow, I felt that the barriers to working bilingually had been broken down. Bethan made the whole concept really inclusive and introduced some really useful strategies that I will definitely be using in my future practice. Taking Flight’s workshop on inclusion was really useful and enjoyable. It was really good to have a refresh on things that I already knew, but also to learn new things about accessibility in the arts, and perhaps challenge some preconceptions I had. I definitely want to implement BSL and Audio Description creatively into my work in the future.”

Sarah Jones, Artistic Director of Mess Up The Mess said:

“We are excited about this project for so many reasons including the opportunity to commission artists who have come through Mess Up The Mess. I remember meeting each of these artists and have been honoured to learn and collaborate alongside them over the last 10 years. We are hugely grateful to Pontardawe Art Centre for the opportunity to continue a professional collaboration with them and enable them to pursue their practice at such a difficult time for the arts and young people. They are exceptional and inspiring creatives who have the power to inspire and develop a safe and nurturing place for our current young participants to make new work and look after their wellbeing.”

Cartref / Home will be streamed online on the 25th of March 2021 at 7pm. Tickets can be purchased through Pontardawe Arts Centre: https://pontardaweartscentre.ticketsolve.com/shows/1173609478

Further information about the artists

Cerian Wilshere-Davies

Cerian is a facilitator, theatre maker and comedian, recently graduated from the University of Salford with have a 1st class degree in Comedy Writing and Performance. Cerian is interested in creating work that focuses on Welsh heritage and expression of identity.

Callum Bruce-Phillips

Callum is a Film & TV Studies/English Literature graduate from Aberystwyth University and is currently working towards his MA in Film Producing. During his undergraduate degree Callum worked with the University’s Centre for Widening Participation, Equality and Social Inclusion, where he worked with young and vulnerable people from different underrepresented backgrounds. This experience has inspired Callum to pursue a career as a community film maker, whose focus is widening access within the film industry, to groups currently underrepresented.

Ciaran Fitzgerald

Ciaran is a writer and facilitator from Port Talbot. He wrote his first play in 2013 for Mess Up The Mess, and hasn’t looked back.  In 2019 he graduated from the BA Scriptwriting degree at the University of South Wales in Cardiff, and is currently developing his first commissioned play ‘Chasing Rainbows’ with Pontardawe Arts Centre. Ciaran is interested in developing work with strong characters at its heart, particularly aimed at young people. Being a fluent Welsh speaker, identity is a key aspect of the work he makes, along with key principles of access and inclusivity.

Review Illusions of Liberty, Applecart Arts by Tanica Psalmist

The online stream ‘Illusions of Liberty’ was Produced & Written by Lorna Wells, Directed by Aisling Gallagher, Performed by Corinne Walker as Liberty Jones, Lighting & Sound design by Chuma Emembolu, set/costume designer by Sally Hardcastle , assistant director/stage manager by Gwenan Bain, Cello played by Meera Priyanka Raja, Produced by Rebecca Dilg & Filmed by Applecarts Theatre.

The themes associated with this production are pain, health, hope judgement, loss, self-doubt, discrimination, love & wellbeing.  Illusions of Liberty is a comedic & heart-felt one woman show, featuring a live cello player whose ambience brought an intensifying effect, mainly because the musical harmony was an emotional & mental depiction of the character Liberty’s mindset. What we saw in sequences was how Liberty’s mind gradually weakened & deteriorated overtime from her internal inflictions from baring a chronic illness & the misconstrued inputs from healthcare professionals which had then left the state of her mind bewildered, detached & deprecated. The set was kept minimal and the mis-en-scene was kept simple with few infrequent light changes, deviating between dim & low lighting.


This play is the journey of a Black woman living in a biased society with a chronic illness & the feelings associated, such as losing confidence and strength, lacking security due to the disparity between misconceptions & battling the unseen of what makes her body, mind & soul feel disconnected from the world and invisibly paralysed. The sounds from the live cello were compelling, projecting various interpretations of herself before when she was a principal cellist & her now as a defiled, deflated & dismissed health-case, affected by a global illness.

Illusions of Liberty consciously aims to raise awareness on the insecurities that influences people’s self-esteem, ongoing disputes with concerned relatives, constant inward sanity checks; as well as restoring relationships that were self-doubted, eventually realising the reality to accept those who acknowledge your essential qualities such as inward beauty, sexiness, talent & humour, willing to be strong enough for the both, irrespective of brain fog and invisible lines that occasionally occur as chronic symptoms.

Corinne Walker
‘Liberty Jones’


Liberty and her mum throughout the play struggle to connect, however they authentically synchronise with moments of laughter towards the end. The plot twist being that her mother had been battling with the chronic illness PTSD for 20yrs, never disclosing this to her loved ones. The unexpected exposure allows the mother and daughter for the first time to relate and emotionally support each other, sharing warmth & unison symbolically chanting healing, safety, support and understanding.


Illusions of Liberty is informative, transparent and resonating for many who can relate or who know of someone who can. Circulating mental, emotional, physical and spiritual complications that’s presented when faced with an invisible illness. As well as what strength, courage, perseverance and freedom truly looks like beyond the surface.