Category Archives: Theatre

Graduate Showcase Moli Bethan Williams

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 Moli great to meet you. Can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

Hello! My name is Moli Bethan Williams and I am a 20-year-old final year university student studying Acting at UCLan. I’m from Wrexham, North Wales but I currently live in Preston, hoping to move to Manchester in a few years. I am a fluent Welsh speaker. My hobbies include watching films, socialising with friends and reading. I also play the cello and enjoy singing. Over the past few years, I’ve performed in several professional productions on stages such as Liverpool Empire and The Manchester Place Theatre. Acting and performing have always been a passion of mine.

Here is a link to Moli’s Spotlight Profile

 So, what got you interested in the arts?

From an early age I attended a local youth theatre (Bitesize Youth Theatre) where I discovered my passion for performing. For most of my childhood I would tend musical theatre, drama and dance classes at Bitesize, where we would compete in national   competitions, perform in numerous shows and build repertoire preparing for auditions. In addition to this, being brought up through the medium of Welsh the Eisteddfodau was a huge influence throughout my school years.

Can you tell us about your creative process?

Devising and creative work has always been something I have enjoyed doing although it takes me a while to find a starting point to my work. Last Summer I trained in the South of France with Pantheatre. The training was heavily based on impulse and improvising both vocally and physically within the space. Having confidence in my ideas was something I was struggling with before my time in France and since then I’ve been braver with my creative process and believed in myself much more and our third-year devising module has benefited from this.

A lot of my creative process tends to stem from life experiences and reading poetry, historical resources and folk tales. Now that everything has slowed right down, there’s time for artists to find motivation to be creative, maybe learn a new instrument, work on a speech for example. Hearing from my course mates this time is given them space to develop skills to build their actor CVs and to prepare them to be ready to break into the industry once normality returns.

 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?

I was lucky enough to have been able to perform in my Manchester showcase for industry professionals in the beginning of March, but unfortunately our London showcase got cancelled. As there has been a pause in the call for actors and creators to make work, Spotlight which is a casting platform connecting performers, agents and casting directors has given all members an extra three months on their yearly subscription which will be a massive financial help to many graduates. Everyone in the arts are suffering during this time, and mental health is something that many graduates struggle with anyway, they feel lost and confused as to what’s next. This I would imagine would be amplified for many at the minute with their university experience has been cut short and in addition to the current climate.

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?

Twitter has proven to be an amazing resource for me personally, I have an actors account set up which is mainly used for networking and broadcasting news. Last week Twitter had a Showreel Share Day, this enabled graduates and actors to showcase their talent to a vast audience and get valuable feedback from industry professionals.  

All my university classes and lectures are done on Skype calls in small groups which took some time to adjust to but is very beneficial. The National Theatre are broadcasting their best loved plays on You Tube weekly. This is a lovely idea and is attracting huge audiences. This Thursday Jane Eyre is being shown, one to watch!

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

An area of the arts which is profoundly underfunded is the Youth Music Services. Over the past few years, cuts have been made to peripatetic music teachers which has resulted in Music Services to close. I was in Wrexham County Choir and Wrexham Strings Orchestra for most of my childhood and teenage years, and unfortunately these cuts are preventing Welsh students to experience the same things I had, for example be a member of the National Youth Choir of Wales.

 What excites you about the arts in Wales?

I think the main things that excites me is the future of arts though the medium of Welsh, over the past few years the number of Welsh speakers has risen therefore more Welsh plays, films and poems will be written. It’s a very exciting time for a growing language.

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

Last week I watched the National Theatres One Man Two Governors starring James Corden. This was a fun play, lots of comedy element, a live band and a great cast! Really cheered me up to watch some great theatre with my family who also really enjoyed it. Reminded me that once normality is restored, arts will rise again, stronger than ever and will be appreciated more than ever before.

An Interview with Playwright Lisa Parry

In our latest Playwright interview Director of Get the Chance Guy O’Donnell chats to Wales based Playwright Lisa Parry. Lisa discusses her career to date, her latest production The Merthyr Stigmatist due to play at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff in October and her thoughts on opportunities for Playwrights in Wales.

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

Sure. I’m a playwright, based in Cardiff. I used to be a journalist but had a wobble one day when I realised I was having to tell a woman’s story in a way that didn’t feel right to me. It felt the way of writing her story for the paper would lead to her feeling judged by the readers/its audience and I felt really uncomfortable with that. It wasn’t bias or anything from the paper’s side, it was literally the way I had to structure it. I was just at the point where I was picking up work on the nationals and I was on a pretty clear career trajectory. After meeting this woman, I started going back to my flat and writing drama again (I did this a fair bit during my A-levels) as opposed to short stories and poems, which I had been doing as a creative release up until that point. I applied to Birmingham Uni to do their MPhil in playwriting, was offered a place and took it. I was taught by playwrights such as Sarah Woods and David Edgar and Moira Buffini – sessions that really impacted how I write.

I then moved to London, temping and working front of house at the Royal Court so I could see heaps of stuff for free and pay my rent at the same time. I learnt heaps down there – nothing beats watching the same production over and over again to see what works and what doesn’t and why. Then one of my short plays was picked up by the Sherman for Script Slam and I ended up being developed by the old literary department here quite a lot.

I was constantly travelling backwards and forwards because the theatre scene here really excited me. Eventually, with work, we had the chance to move and so we took it and settled in Cardiff. We’ve been here for over eight years now.

So, what got you interested in the arts?

I’m a Valleys/Midlands hybrid and from a really working-class background. Going to the theatre to see plays just wasn’t a part of my childhood. It was what middle-class people did. I always loved books and stories though and I remember visiting my very bookish great-great uncle and pulling Shakespeare’s complete works off the shelf, flicking through it and being surprised I could read and understand it. Then I read a really old copy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – I think I bought it at a car boot sale – in one sitting and thought it was incredible. I loved the way the story was told just through dialogue and it wasn’t couched in heaps of description like in novels. It felt really refreshing. My love of theatre then really grew when I was doing my A-levels. I remember seeing Debbie Isitt’s Sqealing Like A Pig on a school trip at Birmingham Rep and being really taken aback by it – the fact it was contemporary, the way she used heightened language in certain sections, but it still felt refreshing and new, not dusty and archaic. I could relate to it. I did some really bad acting throughout sixth form and university but it was always text that got me if I’m honest.

Debbie Isitt

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

It’s really random. Sometimes it’s just a phrase that will stick in my mind or an image and I can’t shake it off and eventually it’ll just come out as a play. (When I say eventually, this can genuinely take years.) I quite like leaving stuff ticking over until I simply have to write it. I try to read as much as possible and to see as much theatre as possible too.  

I think with ideas, it’s mainly about keeping your mind creatively open. Sometimes that comes from switching the creative side off though and tricking it. If I’m not writing and I’m reading non-fiction instead, my brain has an amazing strop and starts throwing ideas my way. If I rest it a bit after finishing something, it needs to create something new.

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

I’m really awful with this. I hear people tell me they do so many pages or words each day and I would love to be like that because then I could chalk up a standard working day, but I simply can’t do it. I’ll write in the time that I have. It loosely fits into the school day now and if my partner has the kids either side of that so I can cram in a few more hours, that’s a bonus. I’ll tend to blitz things in the run-up to deadlines too. Since having the kids though, I’ve noticed I can get more done in a shorter amount of time – I think I’ve developed a more intense focus. And I definitely plan more. If I think about writing a full-length play, I have a complete panic at the start. If I think about writing ten pages or so and just needing to hit a certain point in the story by the end of the week, it’s more manageable.

That said, everything’s gone completely out of the window recently with Covid-19 and like a lot of people, I’m juggling home education now with work. My partner is a doctor at UHW on top so our rhythms as a family are all over the place. My work pattern has changed and I’ve had to step back and look at it and come to terms with how to manage it. I’ve been writing shorter plays, which I love doing anyway, and have also then felt I’ve achieved something. I’m probably hitting the point of getting back to broken-down longer work again now. The fact I’ve not put everything on hold though has surprised me. Obviously there are financial reasons not to do that, but the fact I’ve desperately needed to write with all this going on has made me realise how much a part of me it is and also how much I desperately believe theatre is needed to help us all through this: be that preparing work for the stage in the future or simply short plays going into the community or online now. 

Why and where do you write?

I write for a few reasons I think. The most straightforward answer is that I get really crabby if I don’t. I think it might just be a way I process things. If I’ve not written for a while, I don’t feel like myself and I’m not sure I’m that pleasant to live with. I need a narrative ticking over in my head or it’s really too quiet. I also write plays because I really believe in them. One reason for that is – and I think we’re seeing this with isolation – it’s really important for human beings to simply be together and to listen to stories. It’s a fundamental part of who we are as a species. The world wouldn’t stop turning if I wasn’t one of those writing them, but I do love writing them very much.

The other reason I write plays is that I think theatre is an incredibly powerful and political medium. Anything you put on stage is a metaphor, it carries meaning. And plays can shake us out of our complacency and cause us to ask questions. The second a play causes you to think about something, anything, a little differently, it’s activated a muscle that is really powerful when applied in the outside world: nothing has to be a certain way. That’s a real Brechtian idea, but I really love it. I think I’d struggle to write something if I didn’t think that could be going on in the background. It would feel a bit too self-indulgent.

As for where I write…  I’m so cross with myself about this. For years I have been telling myself that I need a desk and decent chair, but I still work sat on my bed with books and drafts spread out everywhere. I spend far too much time trying to pull out previous drafts from beneath sleeping cats. I was pretty good when my eldest was little as he slept in a sling and I’d work as he napped on me which means I had to be sat in a chair at a table or something. When I want to work without the presence of small mammals and have a decent run at something, I often pop down to Chapter and get there early to nab a plug socket. I recently worked at Gladstone’s Library when I was up at Theatr Clwyd on a residency and it was incredible. I was able to work much later because I could pop downstairs to a library. It was blissful and really productive.

Gladstone’s Library

Your latest play The Merthyr Stigmatist will be produced by Sherman Theatre and Theatre Uncut in October. Why would you say Merthyr is worthy of a Welsh playwright’s attention?

I think I need to flip this question to answer it properly. I’ve never struggled with the idea of whether Merthyr was a worthy subject or not. It’s one of my favourite places in the whole world and I love it there. To me, growing up, it was always magical. My grandmother used to clean the castle and she’d tell me stories of how she saw Crawshay’s ghost in the castle windows perving on them all. And when we’d visit relatives, we could look out over the mountains and then walk into town and pick up the different speech rhythms. The dialect of Merthyr is really rich; its history is phenomenal and there are so many stories still to be told. The idea that it shouldn’t be on stage whereas somewhere like Chelsea should only really holds if you buy into social snobbery and I have absolutely no patience with that. Merthyr’s epic and I’m gobsmacked it’s not on stage more.

That aside, I’ve been putting off writing about Merthyr for years. I always wanted to but it’s so locked into my family and a real grief for my grandparents that I was very wary of going there with my work. And I didn’t want to write something that wasn’t heartfelt and contemporary either – I wanted it to be truthful. It was after we moved across and my partner worked at the Prince Charles for a while and was coming home with stories about his day that I realised how much I’d missed feeling plugged into the place; it felt as if part of me had been asleep for a while. And then a couple of things happened in the world of politics as I was building back up my relationship with it and I creatively exploded.

The play is described as “A riveting and poignant drama that tackles theology, doubt and life in the Valleys in 2020”. With productions such as We’re Still Here by NTW portraying the lives of Neath Port Talbot Steel Workers, Theatr na nÓg’s Nye and Jennie examining the political background and personal inspiration of Aneurin Bevan and Jennie Lee, do you feel that Welsh theatre is presenting representative stories of its citizens on our stages?

That’s an interesting one. I’d say yes but there is more work to do. Audiences respond really positively to Welsh stories which does make sense – I think if you see theatre being for its community, people are going to want to see themselves represented on stage. And modern Wales needs theatrically exploring. I think it’s why the Sherman’s latest season is so exciting because it’s doing that, even with A Christmas Carol.

And I think that’s the rub to be honest. Wales’ past is so rich, you can see why our plays are perceived as mostly being about historical events. But we have to remember that there’s a generation going to the theatre now which wasn’t even alive during the Miners’ Strike and they need to see their lives reflected too or we’ll lose them. There’s heaps that we haven’t explored and voices from various communities that we haven’t heard from yet and we really need to in order to explore who we are and what this country is here and now.

I think there’s something interesting that feeds into this question too though. There seems to be a real push to say ‘Oh, it’s Welsh – but it’s also universal’, as if we have to apologise for telling a Welsh story somehow because what we’re aiming for isn’t that. I don’t see why it can’t be. If the play’s good, if it’s specific to here and truthful, the truths its exploring will be universal anyway. That’s just how theatre works.  

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

I genuinely find this a hard question to answer. Everything is very competitive, but I think that’s true everywhere and there are certainly more opportunities now than there were. It’s a hard industry to succeed in; I think that’s true everywhere though. And you have to really know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, rather than just applying for everything and anything I think. Is it possible to earn an average UK salary solely as a playwright in Wales? No. But then very few people manage that writing anywhere and second jobs are pretty much essential. In terms of playwriting though, I do look to Scotland sometimes, with the Playwrights’ Studio and also Oran Mor and think things like that here would hugely help.

Ultimately, you learn a thousand times more about your craft and process by actually having work on. A body commissioning short plays like Oran Mor does and then sending them off on tour on a loop to small venues around the country seems like a real win-win situation to me, in terms of development, building-up audiences and employment, and I really wish someone would do it.

Sherman Cymru has recently announced the reinstatement of their literary department, on a one-year pilot basis funded by Arts Council Wales. What does this say to you as a playwright as regards the venue’s intention to support your craft? What change do you hope will be realised with this new department at Sherman Theatre?

I think it sets out quite clearly from the off that the Sherman takes literary development and playwriting seriously and we really are crying out for that. The number of times the phrase ‘new writing isn’t our remit’ has been uttered over the years has been heart-breaking given the writing talent here. I’ve heard it said in the past that it’s okay not having a Welsh literary department because people have still been able to send work to London, but I think that misses a crucial point: people in Wales are more likely to send it out to a theatre in Wales. I really saw that teaching a writing workshop recently – sending work to the Sherman just felt safer for them somehow because they see themselves as writing in that Welsh tradition. And for Welsh-language work, those London theatres haven’t been accessible so this is really important. I’m so pleased the Sherman’s secured money from ACW to pull this off and I really hope it continues and that the arts council continues to fund it.

In terms of the Sherman and their support for the craft, in particular with my own work, I have to say I really cannot praise Joe Murphy enough. He has a unique ability to help me tidy up my brain and I’m chuffed to bits he’s here. Between him and Emma Callander at Theatre Uncut who really encourages me to trust my instincts, working on the script of The Merthyr Stigmatist truly is an absolute joy. From personal experience I have to say that Wales really is an exciting and nurturing place to write at the moment. I hope the literary department will help that be the case for writers in the not-too-distant future. I’m just desperate for the ghost lights to be turned off now, for the literary department to be up and running and for work to be back on stage. It’s tough at the moment but when I think about how it’s going to feel seeing and making work here again: it’s going to be absolutely incredible. I can’t wait.    

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

I think the touring scene in Wales needs more focus and money. We have villages with halls paid for by miners’ contributions which are set up for performance and we don’t use them anywhere near as much as we could. It’s really hard for smaller companies to take work out too because companies as a whole aren’t hitting those venues regularly enough to build up audiences so it’s a massive financial risk. I’ve seen amazing work in Cardiff that could easily tour and hasn’t, simply for that reason. We’re still a divided nation after Brexit I think, but that’s exciting in terms of touring work – plays can help stimulate debate and discussion. But to do that, we need more financial support and a willingness across the board to tour.

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

There’s a confidence at the moment from the grassroots up that, if capitalised on, could be really exciting. And for the first time I can remember, there seems to be a critical mass of playwrights. I also think that as a community, the one we have is one of the friendliest and most welcoming on the planet. It’s really exciting to live here, and watch people’s journeys as artists. As a writer too, I think it’s exciting that two languages feed into the literary tradition here and aren’t separate. A lot of English-language work is influenced by Welsh and vice versa. And I really love how heaps more people are going to Welsh-language work now.

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

I was up at Theatr Clwyd just before the theatres closed and sat through some of the rehearsals and tech for Milky Peaks. It’s such a brilliant show and knowing work like that is ready to go when the buildings all reopen is keeping me going at the moment if I’m honest.

Thanks for your time Lisa.

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 Blue Stockings, Storyhouse, Chester By Simon Kensdale

 I wasn’t exactly disappointed but I wasn’t satisfied either – for several reasons.  This puts me in a minority of one, as it seems both the play and this production have been universally well-received:

A must see

a talented young cast

terrific energy as the fight goes on

so good all you want to do is roll out one superlative after another

– and so on.  So, why dissatisfied?

Blue Stockings’ is issue-based.  The subject – the refusal of Cambridge University to recognise women’s equal intelligence by awarding female students degrees and allowing them to graduate – takes precedence over the characterisation of the cast and any personal drama.  The general circumstance – that of an institution pigheadedly refusing to accept women as men’s intellectual equals – is a given and it replaces the normal dramatic tension set up in scenes where there is a rising tension between the protagonists.  So, does this subject provide suitable material for a play?  For one thing, we know the ending in advance, so there is limited suspense.

The standard approach to tackling issues is to show a sympathetic character – a hero or heroine – as being involved in or effected by what is going on in society.  Thus in ‘Henry IV’, Prince Hal and Falstaff can play out their relationship against a backdrop of what it means to be a king in waiting; in ‘The Crucible’, Proctor and Abigail’s story explores the immediate meaning of national paranoia; Hedda Gabler’s passion has nowhere to go and her behaviour when confronted by an unassailable patriarchy becomes both fascinating and horrific.

None of the people portrayed in ‘Blue Stockings’ are of heroic stature.  They are not intended to be.  By giving us a number of female and male undergraduates and a number of men and women academics, Jessica Swayle spreads the load, as it were.  But I think she has done this too evenly.  She avoids the problem sometimes caused by having a pre-eminent main character – the feeling  that his/her problem is unique – by her spread approach, but she leaves an attentive audience wondering exactly where and on whom to place their attention.

Swayle’s large pool of dramatis personae gives her an additional problem.  Those associated with Cambridge, whether working or studying there, are not and never have been representative of wider UK society.  We can’t shrug off our view of them as elitist and privileged.  En masse they put us on the defensive. ‘Why,’ we ask ourselves, ‘should we care tuppence about these toffs?’

One answer is because they are not all toffs.  Even in the nineteenth century there would have been those at Cambridge who did not fit the mould.  Swayle shows us this by having a working-class female undergraduate, Maeve Sullivan, and a genuinely egalitarian male lecturer, Thomas Banks.  (Banks’ career is derailed because he refuses to give up his Girton teaching when offered a fellowship at Trinity.  I thought though, because of a bit of injudicious staging in this production, he might have got into trouble because of the proximity of his hand to a student bottom, occurring when he pushes Tess around on a bicycle – but maybe I wasn’t meant to notice this).

Swayle also sets up an overarching tension by giving us two real historical characters:  Elizabeth Welsh, the mistress of Girton, and Henry Maudsley, the famous psychiatrist.  Mrs Welsh has been working patiently towards obtaining degrees for her girl students; Maudsley has been diligently exploring hysteria and has a number of theories about it.

The presentation of Maudsley needs much more careful handling because he is shown as representative of contemporary male thinking.  Swayle gives him the space to present ideas which today appear as complete nonsense but the way she does this is quasi-farcical.  We are encouraged to find him ridiculous, to laugh uproariously at his ‘wandering womb’ theory, without being simultaneously obliged to place the idea in its real context.  It was not funny for the women of the time to be considered wholly at the mercy of their misunderstood biology. 

Equally the thinking that Maudlsey and others put into hysteria was well-intentioned, insofar as it was part of the early attempts to understand why women were so unhappy and why many of them succumbed to severe mental illness.  In other words, today Maudsley is both absurd and understandable.  In fact he made a huge contribution to the treatment of the insane, giving what Wikipedia describes as an astonishing amount of his own money to ensure the completion of the hospital that was named after him – and which is still providing mental health services today.  If he was shown on stage as a more rounded and complex character and not just as a blithering idiot he would be both funnier and more interesting.

Apparently – Wikipedia again – Elizabeth Welsh managed to rise from being a tutor at Girton to become the first mistress to have any say in the college’s direct management.  She did not, however, manage to achieve what the play suggests was her great ambition – the awarding of degrees to female undergraduates.  Cambridge obstinately continued its male-centred approach until 1948.  It was the last British university to reach this point, some seven hundred years after Bolgona, where a woman got a degree in 1237.  A couple of women were teaching at Spanish universities in the seventeenth century.  Ironically enough, the first woman to be given a BA Cantab was the Queen Mother, and this was only an honorary award.  What does that say about respect for women academics?

The problem as far as the play and this production is concerned is how to flesh out Elizabeth Welsh.  Again I think Swayle needed to handle this more carefully. As it is there is just insufficient modulation in Welsh’s behaviour.  One moment she is seen talking quietly and intelligently to her out of order or worried students and the next she is shouting at a member of her staff she disagrees with.  She comes across as more like a stressed out secondary teacher than a thoughtful member of an intellectual community.  In the end she is transformed into a monstrous harridan, booming at all and sundry.  I was relieved when she was pushed over and the ranting came to an end.

Highly educated people, whether female or male, don’t resort to shouting one another down in a hurry, because they have been equipped with a wide variety of vocal and verbal resources.  They deploy these resources so as to be able to avoid direct confrontation – which they normally consider to be both pointless and ridiculous. (It’s only when they get to the House of Commons that they forget what they have been taught and start behaving badly.)  I don’t object to violent arguments on stage but they require preparation: they are only effective when we have experienced the build up behind them.  You can’t fast forward.  Because Elizabeth Welsh is not the primary focus of the play’s story, she appears in the way to have a very short fuse.  Thus, her mood swings work against the play’s main theme – that women are not driven exclusively by their emotions.  Who, honestly, would want someone like her in the common room?

I expected the plot as it unravelled might centre on Maeve Sullivan and her struggles to integrate with her peers whilst she laid the foundations for a professional career and her escape from her family background.  Instead, when her brother brings news of her mother’s death she is told – by Elizabeth Welsh, no less – that she has to go home and look after her siblings and accept her limited destiny.  The glades of academe are not for such as she.  But, as we have not got to know her properly before this happens, we don’t feel very sorry for her.  She is quickly forgotten – like the girl or girls murdered at the beginning of a Scandi noir TV series.  Rather than serving as a dramatic counterbalance to the other, upper middle class female undergraduates, she remains – as described in the cast list – ‘a mystery’.  Why?

One of those other female undergraduates who is given a bit more air space is Tess Moffat, described as ‘a curious girl’.  This sounds as if it might be ironic – aren’t all Cambridge undergraduates curious? – but she is not given very much more room to manoeuver than Maeve. 

In an early scene, we watch her pluck up the extraordinary courage required to confront Maudsley in a lecture.  But here again, Swayle’s touch is wrong. Maudsley rapidly loses his temper when Tess interrupts and throws the uppity girl out of the lecture hall.  In reality he would have resorted to irony, the favourite linguistic device of the academic.  He would simply have cut her down to size with a few well-chosen put-downs.  That’s all it takes in a tense public space where a practiced sneer can reduce anyone a bit insecure to human jelly.  Any presentation of Cambridge life which doesn’t show irony as almost the lingua franca is just unconvincing. 

Because she has not been humiliated, Tess’s holds her head up high – until she falls for a Trinity man – Ralph, a cad and a bounder.  Ralph bowls her over with the trick that must have been old even in the 1890s, reading her a piece of Italian poetry.  Being a romantic nineteenth century nineteen year old – rather than an unsentimental modern miss who would collapse in fits of giggles  – Tess succumbs to Ralph’s less than obvious charms.  We are not, therefore, surprised when we find out he is going to propose to another.  In any case, university love affairs are not often of more than passing interest.  Does this sub-plot add anything to the main story?  Only insofar as Tess’ stormy love-life disturbs her concentration, so she flunks her exams.   Female intellect being undermined by emotion.  Why not show Tess as bouncing back easily?  Everyone gets dumped.  Most shrug it off.

There seems to be a minor error in the unfolding of the love story.  Tess and her beau have a picnic on what is referred to as a hill from which they can see Kings College Chapel.  I believe you can see the chapel from a distance – or you could until modern buildings got in the way – but this is because Cambridge is almost completely flat.

There was another minor error, too, in the conversation flowing from the male undergraduates.  One remarks that ‘employers all want firsts’. This is an anachronism.  Gentlemen did not go up to Cambridge in the nineteenth century to please prospective employers.   They went up because it was expected that they would complete their education.  It was only the poor – like Maeve Sullivan (remember her?) who had to think of getting jobs.  The gentlemen had ‘prospects’ that would not be affected by the class of degree they took.  They would be supported by Papa until friends of the family set them up and opened the necessary doors.  I understand even today it can be a bit like that for some of them…

All the male students appear to be paid-up members of the Cambridge equivalent of the Bullingdon Club, with the exception of one, Will, who for some reason is hiding the fact that he has known Tess all his life.  The aristocracy certainly behaved in the way shown but, yet again, it would have been more interesting if there had been depth and variation in this group of characters– if we had seen some of them worried about debt, others obsessed with sport, even some concerned about their sexuality.  Having Will as a student at Kings rather than Trinity hardly counts as variation.

A scene which had potential and which went awry involved a confrontation between one of the Trinity men, Lloyd, and one of the Girton students, Carolyn Addison, – ‘an early bohemian’ – in a shop.  Carolyn falls back, cowed into silence, when Lloyd launches a tirade against her.  I think he would have been rude rather than bombastic, sniggering cleverly in the way that misogynists do when they don’t have a gallery to play to.  I’m also sure that Carolyn, smart and demi-mondaine, would have had a killer riposte at the ready for when he refers to female students as unnatural.  Young post -adolescent men like Lloyd are terrified of women.  It doesn’t take much – a gesture, a movement referring to real femininity – to reduce them to nothing.  Lloyd is not in any position of power over Carolyn and she has nothing at all to lose from ridiculing him.  By having her turn away, as beaten down as the female shopkeeper obliged to serve him, Swayle suggests that women were all powerless.  This goes too far.  There is ample evidence in the literature of the nineteenth century, from Trollope to George Eliot, showing women could hold their own in social exchanges.  That’s one reason why they did get degrees in the end. You can’t imagine a Jane Austen character backing off like Carolyn – and they had to operate a century earlier.

In terms of holding their own, one of the reasons why women were finally admitted to Cambridge was that they began getting better marks than men in exams.  Not only were they acquiring knowledge but they had the confidence and the skills necessary to use it and present new ideas.  This is an important historical and sociological point but – can it make for great theatre?

Swayle shows us the Girton undergraduates coming out with snippets of knowledge about more or less every conceivable subject.  They are bright, well informed and well prepared for University Challenge.  We do not see, however, what this intellectual attainment has cost them, so it is hard to connect with it.  We are informed by one – Celia, ‘a fragile hard-worker’ – in the course of a conversation, that she has had a nervous breakdown.  This hardly seems important as shortly afterwards she sails through her viva. 

I confess to being puzzled by what seems to be another anachronism. In this viva, Celia refers to Einstein, although relativity didn’t appear on the scientific scene publically until 1915, about twenty years after the period in which ‘Blue Stockings’ is set.  Time and space may be relative but Celia would not have been able to travel through them, however brilliant she was.

I think most of the problems this production faced came from weaknesses within the play itself, rather than the performers.  It’s hard to fail with some plays but it’s not easy to deliver on a combination of cameos and set-pieces.  Other than Polly Lister as Mrs Welsh going over the top, nobody did anything wrong. The trouble was that nobody did anything very right or memorable, either.  If there are no  characters with depth and complexity, actors have to work very hard to ensure they can find individual ways of differentiating themselves from one another.  Groups of undergraduates are rarely exciting on stage and there was a lack of detail here: both the young women and the young men appeared to be little more than their normal selves, with a touch of acting applied.  Neve Kelman did manage to squeeze some original life into Carolyn but none of the others were remarkable in any way.  If the production is revived this could be addressed.  Everything and everyone was a little too safe and conventional.  Nobody went mad or was truly weird  – even though these are staple quantities of Cambridge university life.

I gather that ‘Blue Stockings’ has entered the national curriculum, where it is used for teaching purposes.  This seems to me reasonable, although I hope it won’t displace any major works.  With its large cast, there is scope for student productions and the ideas in the play are of interest.  In many ways, the play is more suitable for a young audience than for adults. It’s easy to see how it would spark off writing projects and further reading. 

Whilst it left me unsatisfied, ‘Blue Stockings’ did prompt me to go away and look into the background – and to write an overlong review.  I’m grateful for this, of course, but plays are about a lot more than education.  I need to be distracted and fascinated, disturbed and enthralled, when I go to the theatre.  I don’t want to have to do background study work afterwards.  I may not normally have the time. 

Jessica Swayle is adapting ‘Blue Stockings’ for TV.  This is probably where it belongs as material, not on the stage.  TV is a medium suited to docu-drama, because it operates on its audience in a different way.  Good camera work, for example, can make up for brief moments of dialogue.  By and large, too, there seems to be an insatiable escapist demand for period drama on TV, where there is more room to explore a wide range of people on a superficial level. Production companies love the challenge of recreating the nineteenth century and you can include scenes that are impossible in a theatre.

One of the most extraordinary events associated with the issue of women at Cambridge was the huge riot that took place in 1897, when an effigy of woman cyclist was suspended from the Cambridge University Press bookshop.  Showing this would make for a tremendous start for a series and it might really open up the world of the play’s time.  The repressed violence that emerged in the riot connects after all to what was to happen only seventeen years later in a war where the sons and younger male relations of the Cambridge blue stockings were ordered to don red-ribboned caps and walk across open ground towards machine guns. 

In the year of that riot, too, one Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, deemed only a minor threat, was sentenced to three years exile and found himself in to a hut in Siberia.  Away from Cambridge, the times they really were a-changin’.  For me, Swayle needed to tap into the Zeitgeist of the period a lot more thoroughly.

Rooting Hip-Hop Theatre in Wales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The passion to do this comes from personal experience:

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

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

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

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

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

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/

DYMA ADOLYGIAD o ‘TYLWYTH’ (Dafydd James) Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru/Sherman Cymru Gan Lowri Cynan

Yn anffodus mae taith y berfformiad yma wedi cael ei ganslo, darllenwch yr adolygiad isod, diolch.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Weithiau, pan y’ch chi’n aros i weld ail gyfres ddrama ar Netflix neu iPlayer mae’r heip a’r ‘build up’ yn anhygoel. Ond yn amlach na pheidio, braidd yn siomedig yw’r canlyniad. Dyw hyn bendant ddim yn wir am ‘Tylwyth’ sef y dilyniant i ‘Llwyth’, drama hynod lwyddiannus Dafydd James sydd ar daith ar hyn o bryd. Waw! Dyma gyfanwaith gwbl trawiadol a chaboledig. Mae’r holl elfennau sydd eu hangen i greu darn o theatr ysgytwol yn perchnogi’r sioe hon. Heb os nac oni bai y prif uchafbwynt yw’r sgript sy’n grafog a chignoeth ar adegau ac yna’n delynegol a huawdl ar y llaw arall. Mae’r awdur yn dilyn strwythur y ddrama flaenorol i ryw raddau ond credaf bod sgript ‘Tylwyth’ yn fwy clyfar eto. Mae monologau Aneurin yn gweu yn gynnil drwy gydol y ddrama ac yn cyfuno arddull gynganeddol, gyda dyfyniadau o lenyddiaeth, emynau a rhigymau Cymreig. Mae’r chwarae ar eiriau a’r dychan pwrpasol yn gampwaith llwyr. Dyna pam mae angen i mi brynu’r sgript gan fy mod eisiau ei darllen er mwyn ei gwerthfawrogi eto!

Hanes yr un cymeriadau â ‘Llwyth’ a geir yma – Dada, Gavin, Gareth, Rhys ac Aneurin, ond degawd yn ddiweddarach – y llwyth hoyw sydd bellach yn bobl proffesiynol, yn rhieni, yn aeddfetach a challach i fod, a’r llwyth felly wedi troi’n dylwyth. Yn gymysg â’r cymeriadau hyn cyflwynir un cymeriad newydd sef Dan – gogleddwr a phartner amyneddgar a chariadus Aneurin. Mae’r ddau wedi mabwysiadu dau o blant bach ac er bod Aneurin wedi bod ‘ar y wagon’ ers pum mlynedd, mae diafoliaid y gorffennol yn ei boeni o hyd. Mae bwganod ei isymwybod yn ei arwain a’i demptio i fyd tywyll ei orffennol ac mewn un noson wyllt o gyffuriau, rhyw ac alcohol, mae’n mentro wynebu ei gyfrinach a’i ofnau personol dwysaf. Canlyniad y weithred yw bod Aneurin yn agor hen greithiau sydd wedi’i boeni ers blynyddoedd.

Mae’r actio a’r perfformiadau i gyd yn ardderchog – ensemble gwych sy’n cydweithio’n effeithiol, ond i mi mae Danny Grehan fel Dada a Simon Watts fel Aneurin yn serennu. Ceir gwaith corfforol bwriadol symbolaidd gan yr actorion ar adegau sy’n creu awyrgylch hynod effeithiol. Hefyd mae llwyfannu a chyfarwyddo cynnil a chlyfar Arwel Gruffydd yn arbennig. Mae’r set yn gyfuniad o lefelau a fflatiau symudol ar ffurf hanner cylch, ond sydd hefyd yn medru cael eu trawsnewid i greu lleoliadau gwahanol. Roedd hyn yn f’atgoffa o set draddodiadol Roegaidd, ond ar ffurf lawer llai wrth gwrs, ac roedd y goleuo yn llwyddo i greu naws hyfryd. 

Dimensiwn ychwanegol ond hynod bwysig yw’r trac sain a’r defnydd o ganu unigol a chorawl a oedd yn hynod ddoniol a dychanol. Roedd y cyfan yn ategu at un o driciau clyfar Daf James sef gwneud sbort deifiol am yr iaith Gymraeg a’n ffug barchusrwydd fel Cymry. I ddweud y gwir, mae’r coegni atom fel cenedl yn hynod lwyddiannus, bwriadol a dyfeisgar sy’n ein hannog fel cynulleidfa i ystyried ein credinedd ar adegau. Ymysg y themâu yma mae’r awdur yn trafod Brexit, hunaniaeth, rhywioldeb a moesoldeb. Ond y prif thema yw cariad a sut mae cariad yn trechu popeth yn y pendraw. Yng ngeiriau cân Eden ‘Gorwedd gyda’i Nerth’ “Cyffwrdd â’r grym yr hyn sy’n gariad pur”.

Os nad ydych wedi gweld ‘Llwyth’ ddeng mlynedd yn ôl, sdim ots – mae ‘Tylwyth’ yn sefyll ar ei thraed ei hun fel drama annibynnol. Ewch da chi i’w gweld. Llongyfarchiadau i bawb sy’n gysylltiedig â’r cynhyrchiad rhagorol hwn ac yn arbennig i weledigaeth Daf James a thîm Theatr Genedlathol Cymru.   

Review The Time Machine, The London Library, Creation Theatre by Tanica Psalmist

The Time Machine is based on the different dynamics existing around time travelling – written by Jonathan Holloway & directed by Natasha Rickman. Featuring Rhodri Lewis (time traveller), Funlola Olufunwa (chat show host), Graeme Rose (computer), Paul Taylor (time traveller), Sarah Edwardson (DRI), Clare Humphrey (time traveller). This play was derived from the book HG Wells giving it a different spin, even more so having this play performed at The London Library.

The start began with a scientist captured in a hologram screen prepping the audience by giving us a mental break down of the implications that was going to be unravelled. Then driving us down a road of discovery by providing a brief overview of the fundamental factors we as the audience would be encountering in solidarity motion . A unique achievement of being explicitly imaginary but maintaining the feel of being realistic as we experience a close reflection of what it’ll be like to tap into a new era through time travel. Shortly after the hologram we were accompanied by a time traveller who held a big brown bag which contained primal survival tools to break free from the power of the unknown that goes beyond our era when we as an ensemble yell ‘Zoom’!!!

‘Time Machine’ depicts technical intelligence, artificial intelligence infused with exclusive insights into the implications of the barriers facing us through trial & tested climaxes throughout humanity. This play projected the manifestation of the consequences of knowing too much, knowing too little, etc. All information used to produce this play were a collection of research data from scientific findings.

This play is truly a powerful dystopian as well as an utopian visionary becoming the space between the extraordinary taking us through a primitive space of human being counterfeits operated primarily on robotic-systemised technology; diminishing the present from the future giving off a nurturing fugitive space. The exploration of the library feel was what led this to feel like fantastic promenade performance. Extracting elements from smart devices, computer sequences, repetitive patterns helped to structurally enhance a rich flavour to secure an effective transition as we continued to time travel throughout the library, in various locations inciting new information to process every time.


Time Machine speculates on all the If’s & but’s, hidden truths that could make or break, cause heartbreak, confusion, seclusion then delusion before it all becomes to much handle! This play offers a unique experience shared between the audience & the actors creating a divine collective experience explored when going on a journey through some of lives most evocative spaces. 


The use of space in this play was pure genius! the creativity, inspiration & innovation to what the future awaits was key to successful suspense & tension in this play! I managed to catch up with Jonathan Holloway after the show who’d gently touched on the amount of research which was a massive contribute to putting the play in its full effect!

Review: too pretty to punch, edalia day, vault festival by hannah goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Edalia Day has brought a very unique and very interesting production to the forefront at this year’s Vaults.

Beginning slow and slightly awkward, Day seems nervous and uneasy in this plain white room. Soon we are to realise, this is very much a clever theatrical technique to their story and very much the beginning of something special.

Too Pretty To Punch brings Day’s autobiography to the stage. Identifying as trans, Day transforms the stage into their life story, the trials and tribulations and turmoil in accepting who they are and seeking acceptance in society. It then continues into a widen view of the issues trans people face and eventually brings in verbatim videos to others facing the daily obstacles.

It would be easily and still powerful to have used these videos to support Day’s points, but they go the step further – animation is projected onto screens, one an ordinary square screen, another slightly misshapen and another as a moveable canvas. These are used to flick between images and animations as they move across the stage, along with physical theatre by Day, making the action come to real life in our eyes.

Some of the performance feels like we are getting to know a new friend – Day addresses us and talks to us like a new friend being made, but then some poignant moments being transferred into visual elements adds a unique and clever nature to this production and hits the points home.

Supported at times with kitsch music that reminds me of Golem by 1925, this makes the production feel a little special and like nothing on the theatre scene right now.

Too Pretty To Punch is not only a really important production to see but is also one of the most unique and fascinating pieces of theatre I have seen in a long time.

Review: Animals, Conscious/Unconscious, Vault Festival By Hannah Goslin

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

What can I say that drew me to this production? Ultimately that the show image is of two men in the nude hiding their gentlemans and looking like they are loving life.

Animals is the story of two cousins, a long way from home, trying to make a life in London. They enjoy drugs, music and cheese. They enter moments of absurd hallucinations, finding the meaning to life but ultimately gaining a new love for their friendship.

Animals is an interesting production; mainly consisting of a duo doubling up on characters, there’s an element of The Inbetweeners, with rude jokes, silly humour and really unique moments of comedy.

It took me some time to get into the rhythm of the production and understand its niche concept, but equally there were moments of comical genius and once I understood the approach, it became more enjoyable.

The two performers play very good parts; similar yet very different, there was a naturalism to their performances, even as hallucinated characters, and the chemistry between them was relaxed, bouncing off one another with ease.

I am not sure where this production can and should go, but it felt much as if there needed a bit of development and perhaps a moral direction to the narrative.

Animals is comical, enjoyable and unique. While I wouldn’t say that this is a must see production at the moment, I would say that it is however a good laugh and an easy production when you’re not in the mood for anything too heavy.