Category Archives: Theatre

Review Jo Fong: An Invitation… by Renn Hubbuck



I opened the door to the dance hall at Chapter Arts Centre, lots of unknown faces turned their heads and peered at me. There were two long rows of chairs facing each other with an aisle running down the middle. The one woman who was standing said ‘hello’ and I quickly chucked my bag on the floor and placed myself onto an empty seat. The standing woman faced away from me and carried on with her performance, if she had ever stopped. I had no idea what to expect but I was certainly intrigued.

The woman was attempting to dance. I say attempting because she would interrupt her movements, stop herself and start again, trying to achieve something, I wasn’t quite sure what, commenting on what she was doing all the while. It was unclear whether I was watching a wholly scripted piece or a workshop for dancers which was more spontaneous and organic. This blurring between reality and performance was clearly a theme they were playing around with. Comedy was created through her almost childlike frustration at the inability to fully let go. The audience was kept in suspense as we waited for the dance to flow.

‘Maybe you could do it like this’ piped up someone from the other side of the room. Jo Fong stepped into the space. Her energy was immediately captivating. Fong talked a lot about her energy, expressing how she was bringing it into the room and giving it to the audience. There was definitely a sense of the performer enthusing the audience; her movements were big and bold, she had something inside her which didn’t know how to get out. Again, there was that tension. It seems to be a comment on how people struggle to give in to their emotions, stopping themselves from being totally free. Fong at one point did this sporadic movement with her arm which she called the ‘contemporary arm’, stating it ‘wants to express itself.’ There was a battle for control over the body, limbs did not perform as wanted and had a mind of their own.

After advising the first performer on how she should move, a third dancer, Beth Powlesand, came up and took to the floor. They all seemed very natural in the space, making the most of the strip between the rows of chairs. The further it went on, the more I realised how much of it was staged, which didn’t diminish the piece as we were supposed to be aware of its constructed nature.

There was a key element which really made it a unique and original experience; the audience. The show was shaped by the audience as the performers were continuously responding to the people watching, to the energy of the room and incorporating it into the performance.

As people started to understand what the show was about and got more relaxed, there was a change in the power dynamic. One audience member controlled Powlesand like a puppet on a string, the dancer imitating her as she freely moved her arms. It was a fascinating development because we were no longer just watching the show, we were a fully-functioning part in it. I’ve always been very interested in audience interaction and the relationship between performer and viewer and the show explored this wonderfully. Laura Lee Greenhalgh, the woman who said hello to me at the beginning, noticed I was furiously writing notes and commented on it; she looked down at the paper and read aloud ‘who is the leader? Who is being lead?’ It seemed to create a strange electric current between her and Powlesand, who were mirroring each other, and they rapidly danced down the room together as though fired up by the observation.

Near the end of the show, Powlesland invited people to get up off their seats and follow her movements, they were now the puppets. Quite a few practically leapt out of their chairs and joined in with enthusiasm. Yet, I think one of the most memorable moments was when Fong said ‘do you think I’m going to sit on a chair and do nothing like you?’ and proceeded to give the most emotionally charged performance of the evening. Her movements became more aggressive and the tension that had been building up throughout finally came to a head. She shouted ‘I just want to get this out of my body!’ with an intensity that resonated. It’s the sort of frustration I think everyone can relate to; this sense of being trapped or being unable to feel totally uninhibited. It’s felt honest and that’s why it stuck with me.

The concept of the show for me was about breaking down barriers, not just between performer and audience but internal barriers too. It’s about trying to fully experience an emotion and letting it flow through your body without fear. However, there’s a conflict there because can you really achieve this if your are performing? It would interesting to ask Jo Fong and the other dancers whether they think they have ever had a moment of pure release while doing the show. We are constantly reminded that what we are watching is a construct while are also actively participating in forming the performance. Without the audience, the piece would not have been what it was but it can also adapt to whoever is watching. Thus we all become performers and like the three dancers, we are all in pursuit of freedom.


Review Priscilla Queen of the Desert by Tanisha Fair


I recently attended a performance of Priscilla the Queen of the Desert at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff and I thought it was incredible!

The lead role was played by the brilliantly talented Jason Donovan as the character of Mitzi and I was slightly apprehensive at first as I was not sure how he was going to portray a convincing drag queen, but gosh was I wrong! He gave a wonderfully touching and convincing performance. I also absolutely fell in love with Bernadette played by the lovely Simon Green. His performance helped melt everyone’s hearts when he sang his rendition of  ‘True Colours’. I also wanted to mention the amazing amount of sass from the extremely talented Adam Bailey as the character of Felicia. His character was nothing but flawless and I think most probably gave a lot of the audience dance envy from his triple threat talents.

The backing trio of singers had the voices of angels providing the backing for every song in the musical. It truly made the performance spectacular, especially from the moment the orchestra starts playing with a beaming disco ball and lively music which sets you back into the 90’s with upbeat tunes that will get you moving in your seats. The costumes are incredible and outrageous and if you love drag queens I think you might be slightly jealous of some of these very unique, to say the least, costumes.

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This production is by far the best I have seen in a while as you cannot stop smiling throughout the show. There were moments that I found it very difficult to stay still in my seat, it really made me want to put on a pair of ridiculously high sparkly heels and get up on stage with the cast. All in all I completely and utterly fell in love with them and wished they were my friends. It’s energetic and fantastic fun. This production is definitely one to go and watch. It’s an absolute party from start to finish. It truly does take you on an emotional journey. The productions storyline not only makes you laugh but allows you to understand some of the pains that these characters went through to continue to do want they were born to do. I think this gives us all the message of how no matter how difficult the dream is or how long it takes you to reach it, you should never give up.

A truly inspiring performance from the whole cast and crew the amount of work that has been put into to this production means I thought it was utterly brilliant!

2015 Personal highlights from the Young Critics & 3rd Act Critics


2015 New Year celebration with the date outlined by colourful fiery sparklers on a dark New Year's Eve night


Members of the Young Critics and 3rd Act Critics have selected their own personal highlights of 2015. Their first choice is that a cultural event they have reviewed or attended. Their second is something they have personally experienced which has resonance for them as an individual.

 Young Critic Lois Arcari

2015 is, like all other years, impossible to forget for many reasons. One such reason was an amazing blur, both individually and for the Young Critics as a whole – the celebration of Welsh talent and its abilities at the annual BAFTA Cymru awards. For a review and as a day, what was daunting turned easily to something wonderful, truly hopeful and encouraging for a defiantly blossoming industry in the face of cuts to the arts and critics of its worth. An event that continues developing to give Wales international renown. This day was both an honour, and a joy to be part of.

My personal pick of this year is something as much as a cultural event, platform for debate, national icon and builder of careers and friendships alike as it is a show – the incomparable Doctor Who. In light of criticisms thrown at showrunner Steven Moffat for a number of years now, this season has episodes widely regarded as some of the most experimental, diverse and emotional at least post revival. Whilst I was worried at the apparent superficiality of this choice – Doctor Who is iconic for a reason. Not least this past season because of the sensational acting masterclass in acting from Peter Capaldi, and Jeanna Coleman. Coleman has laid claim to being a divisive character, but personally I think her performance is one of the most raw, layered and deftly handled in the show’s history, especially when coupled with Moffat’s no holds barred approach. Though missteps were made, they were made in interesting ways. The Doctor, expertly handled, has always been a personal character – an icon of unflinching hope and possibility that even helped through uncertainty and anxieties through eager viewing last year following a serious car accident. Seeing the characters, writing and ambition grow in tandem has been moving and joyous, and the many layers encouraging fans to analyse, speculate, and always, always hope. As the show-runners (as a brilliant personal meeting at the aforementioned BAFTA Cymru awards with Russel T Davies showed) did with the same love.


3rd Act Critic Barbara Michaels

My first choice would have to be Mack and Mabel at WMC. The production was brilliant on all fronts, Barbara reviewed this production for The Reviews Hub

Mack and Mabel – Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Secondly my personal choice is Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake with male dancers as the swans.  A new take in one of the most popular classical ballets and spine tingling.


Young Critic James Briggs

For my choice of 2015 I would like to say Jersey Boys at the Wales Millennium Centre because this was the first production that I reviewed for Young Critics and so if I had not chosen to attend that show I would not have been so involved with Young Critics this year.

Review Jersey Boys, WMC by James Briggs

For my second choice of 2015 I would like to say the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular that was at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena back in May this year.

This is a review by Wales Online about the show


Young Critic Kiera Sikora

I would definitely say my favourite production which I reviewed in 2015 was Alix in Wundergarten- Difficult Stage/Other Room

My second choice would be A Doll’s House- Sherman Cymru a relevant retelling of a theatrical classic!


Young Critic Amina Ali

My first choice would be the TV series Agent Carter

My second choice would be the Black Lives matter movement. I feel it’s important because as a black person the miscarriages of justice are almost personal. It is important to know that there are people standing up for people like me.

Young Critic Sian Thomas

My first choice would be the book Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton, I feel I wrote my review well and there was to my surprise online interaction with the author and her publisher on Twitter. I know someone also bought it as a consequence of my review which I thought was amazing!


My second would be the release of the World of Professor Layton which is a big art book about my favourite ever game that came out around November 5th and I really enjoyed and felt the closure of the series ending personally.


Young Critic Bethan Hooton

My number one event of the year would have to be the One Direction concert – seeing your favourite band live is something you will never forget!

My second choice would be getting my GCSE results – 2 Cs, 7Bs, A, A* . I was so proud of myself for these grades, and I got into college with them to study subjects that I now really enjoy and love.


We are all looking forward to what 2016 will bring!







Review Scrambled Stories, UWTSD by Kiera Sikora

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Images  by Jennie Caldwell.

At the Halliwell Theatre in Carmarthen tonight I and many others were treated to some magically, musical, modernised, mashed up versions of our best loved fairy tales. Cleverly concocted by James Scannell and performed by BA3 Acting and Design & Production students from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen. The production had a very cheeky guilty pleasure playlist and some wonderful Welsh wit, the telling of many tales begins and we are immediately thrown into the magical world of make-believe.

We race through the rhymes, from Cinderella (Emma Davies) to Snow White (Suzy Hambrige), The Three Little Pigs to Goldilocks (Alex Delaney) and Jack and the Beanstalk to Little Red Riding Hood (Hannah Gray). With some hilarious narration from our constant comic, Jack, (Ryan Edmunds) who’s own story is told later too, and as well as being the Evil Queen’s (Rebecca Hazzleton) most hysterically blunt magic mirror, he also keeps us up to date with where we’re off to next in this scrambled world of magical mayhem.

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In Cinderella’s world we meet a very proper yet fairly pompous Prince Charming (Thomas Halkes) who is much more suited to Cinder’s ugly sisters, and so the lovable Buttons (Abbie Edwards) is finally given his perfect happy ending. From there we’re taken to Snow White’s world where the magic mirror gets a promotion and the huntsman becomes a hero, and in a bright flash we find ourselves the cosy home of The Three Little Bear’s. Here baby bear’s a Bieber fan and guilty Goldilocks gets taken to court, which is where we aptly learn the moral of the story. And of course, a fairy-tale farce is never complete without a little rendezvous into the woods! Here we find our favourite Grandma, (Jessica Kabesh) who’s got some dangerously good dance moves and an admirable love for Mars Bars. She’s waiting for her Little Red Riding Hood (Hannah Gray), who may well have just caught the last train back from Barry, to deliver her Grandma her favourite treats only to be met by the wicked wolf, who doesn’t stand a chance against Little Red and her Judo skills. But last but not least we are met with Jack, his ex-wrestler mother, his cow and his beanstalk. I’d say you know how the story goes but not this time, Jack’s mother tackles the giant (wonderfully voiced by none other than Dave Ainsworth) and all is well again in the world of scrambled stories. Oh and did I mention the Three Little Pigs are in this piece too? They forgot to get planning permission for their houses and so the vegetarian wolf (who, funnily enough, used to baby sit them) has had to pop over and remind them how important it is to ‘always ask first’.

This impressively energetic and wonderfully manic piece of magical comedy is a perfect treat to see for all ages. There’s rewritten pop songs, hysterical dance routines, a contagious energy from start to finish and a whole lot of laughter- a perfect pick-me-up performance and a wonderfully panto-esque affair! 

The tour ends in Laugharne on Friday 11th December after touring to Devon and in and around Wales.
Directed by James Scannell and produced by UWTSD School of Performing Arts.
Stage Manager: Lucie Mitchell
Sound and Lighting: Connor Manning

Review Shrek, WMC by James Briggs


You know something special must be in town when the outside and interior of the Wales Millennium Centre is lit up luminous green. I must admit I was a little apprehensive that I would not enjoy the show and it would be something more suitable for younger children opposed to teenagers but I could not have been more wrong!

The show began with a voice over giving the usual warning to the audience regarding mobile phones but this warning certainly came with an unusual outcome!  The penalty being an ogre breaking wind in your face. It was from this you were able to get a pretty good feel of what you were in for with this musical.

Shrek The Musical is based on the Dreamworks animated film, and takes the audience on a magical and fun adventure with Shrek and his trusty companion Donkey who set off on a quest to rescue Princess Fiona. Their intention is to take her to the evil Lord Farquaad who intends to marry her so he can claim his rightful place on the throne.

Shrek the Musical UK Tour
Shrek the Musical UK Tour

The stage production very cleverly captures everything that was loved about the film. Ranging from the fairy-tale characters, like the gingerbread man who cringes at the thought of losing any of his gumdrop buttons to Peter Pan who is described in the show as being ‘a 30 year old who is in need of a shave’.

It was obvious that Gerard Carey stole the show as the strangely short Lord Farquaad, who had the audience laughing all night as he scuttled around the stage and repeatedly spread his legs, not to mention his entrance song ‘What’s Up, Duloc’ when he was sitting on top of his castle crossing his small legs.

It would be wrong, of course, not to mention the equally brilliant Shrek and Fiona. Shrek is played by Dean Chisnall who brings the well-loved character to life and his voice is so distinctive as that in the film. Fiona is played by the brilliant Bronte Barbe who shot to fame when she competed in the critically exclaimed Andrew Lloyd Webber search for the next Dorothy in ‘Over The Rainbow’. The complimentary pairing of these two characters reaches a whole new level when they sing the song ‘I think I got you beat’, the song is a sing off between them where they battle to prove who has had the worst upbringing before taking it to a whole new level with a competition of who is best at burping and passing wind. It also oddly becomes clear they are made for each other and should be together.

Shrek the Musical UK Tour
Shrek the Musical UK Tour

Another magical pairing in the show is Donkey and the Dragon. The Donkey is played by Idriss Kargbo who did a wonderful job and brought the playfulness and energy that Eddie Murphy brought in the film. Eddie Murphy is an extremely hard act to follow but Idriss Kargbo does it wonderfully. One of the big differences between film and stage is the lack of animation available and so for the show the Dragon was brought to life in the form of a gigantic puppet controlled by four puppeteers. The voice of the Dragon was provided by Candace Furbert who brought an amazing Gospel and Motown feel to the Dragon. The blend between actress off stage and the Dragon onstage was seamless making the audience feel the Dragon was alive and with them in the theatre.

Shrek the Musical

The show is wonderfully written and performed and crammed packed full of great jokes and innuendo that passes right over the heads of younger audience members. A must see Musical that is fun for all the family. Hurry up down to the Wales Millennium Centre because I guarantee you will be left shouting at the end “I am a believer!”.

Shrek The Musical runs at Wales Millennium Centre until Sunday the 10th of January 2016. Tickets can be purchased online at the Wales Millennium Centre website.

Review Alix in Wundergarten, The Other Room By Kiera Sikora


The Other Room at Porter’s is currently home to a ridiculously funny, curiously clever and oddly insightful alternative Christmas ‘play’ at the moment- the quotations marks are necessary, I promise.

The audience are warmly welcomed through the brightly lit radio studio (Paul Towson) via a door made from a deck chair, a small path made from gravel and what could be squeaky dog toys, where we are met by the newly assembled actors for their first read through of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Their director Fabian (François Pandolfo) is very quickly driven slightly mad by the actors, with Nick (Richard Elfyn) as the prime culprit for madness as he throws his knowledge, experience and insistent ego at the others by constantly showing off his fantastic vocals and making shamefully funny snide remarks about their acting skills. There’s also the newly trained RADA graduate Toby (Arthur Hughes) who is also driven to madness which he chooses to expresses through a children’s audio book he’s written, while the delicate Elin-Rose (Louise Marie Lorey) becomes lost in Nick’s celebrity status and in her own world too at times (which is kind of understandable under the circumstances and may also be the safer place to be). We also meet Gael (Dean Rehman) an Adler actor who’s name is constantly mispronounced by the director, but who is somehow promoted in what becomes the Cold War version of the classic story; ‘Alix in Wundergarten’.


We are taken on a close and explicit journey of a first reading gone wrong, with singing, dancing, sexual advances and a storytelling Santa, where there is no line drawn between the actors world and ours. In this uniquely bold piece you question when the acting is acting and whether there is indeed anyone in the room who knows what on earth is going on at any point during the 90 minutes of witty weirdness. But what is definite about this performance is that you will feel for yourself how an environment and it’s contents can change you. How an imposing ego mixed with innocent ears and a straining need to be established in your own ideal can make you forget what it is you are ‘meant’ to be doing. I mean, you may not understand this piece, I understand that that’s not the point of it (if there is any definite point). But you will laugh, you will cringe and you will indulge in its oddly attractive madness. The wild and wonderful creation that is ‘Alix in Wundergarten’ written by François Pandolfo and directed by Angharad Lee, is a magnified mash up of the catastrophic collision between reality, time and logic, both in Wonderland and the rehearsal room. You’ll know what I mean when you see it..

Alix In Wundergarten - Richard Elfyn, Dean Rehman (photo  credit - Aenne Pallasca)

“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”

Alix in Wundergarten runs at The Other Room at Porter’s until 19th December.

Who doesn’t love a little absurdity?


Review Mack and Mabel, WMC by James Briggs


Direct from its home on Broadway, the smash hit musical Mack & Mabel is bringing all of the magic of the movies and Broadway to Cardiff Bay at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff. Mack and Mabel is based on the real-life romance between the Hollywood legends Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand. The musical tells the story of Mack Sennett who is a successful movie director who meets Mabel Normand, a sandwich shop girl who he makes his leading lady who instinctively knows how to act when faced with stereotypical villains of the screen.   They are a group of ground-breaking filmmakers who were pioneers in the world of film and their slapstick humour generated huge laughs from audiences that longed to escape the humdrum of everyday life. Mack and Mabel features an exceptional score written by the fantastic Jerry Herman and is widely prized for its classic Broadway sensations including I Won’t Send Roses and Tap Your Troubles Away.


Michael Ball is excellent as Mack Sennett who was regarded as one of the best movie directors of his time and Rebecca LaChance’s performance as Mabel Normand is compelling, she is cheerful and energetic. The musical has been directed with flair and panache by Jonathan Church, who has directed many other successful West End shows such as Patrick Stewart’s Macbeth. Mack and Mabel is crammed packed with great visual jokes that nod to some of Hollywood’s greatest stars.

During the show one is taken aback by the clever and complex sets that are used to bring back fond memories of times gone by. This was realised on stage by the use of old movie clips incorporated into the onstage scenery and also mixing sets that were constructed on stage with technology such as a projector to fill in the rest of the scene. This was done seamlessly and added to the overall feel of being at the movies. All of the ingenious sets were designed by Robert Jones and the fabulous choreography complimented the era of the silent movies extremely well, the choreography used created some brilliant characters and gave a feel to what may have gone on all those years ago. The seamless transitions between the movies being filmed on the stage to it being shown on the projectors was very clever and made the audience feel like they really were watching the movies being made.


This dazzling and exiting story leaves it’s audience with a lot to think about and a jubilant merriment of a time long ago. It is important that one should relish in the warmth of spirit then, which is reflected wonderfully in Jerry Herman’s naturally lush score and charming lyrics. Ensure you book tickets and go down to the Wales Millennium Centre to see Mack and Mabel between 01 Dec – 06 Dec 2015. You are guaranteed a nostalgic experience of the movie years gone by!


Review Wasted Kate Tempest USWTSD by Kiera Sikora



Photo credit, Jennie Caldwell

Director Ioan Hefin’s take on Tempest’s dynamic piece about a group of friends performed at  Volcano Theatre in Swansea saw the cast struggling through their salad days painting a reflective portrait of the modern day dilemma; how do you escape when the safest place to go to escape, is inside yourself?


Photo credit, Jennie Caldwell

The stage is dimly lit with little set and mountains of character, ‘R.E.M’ playing softly in the backround giving us the impression that we’re inside the youth’s world, we’re not intruding because we are, already, part of this world aren’t we? If we’re honest. And that idea of honesty plays a massive role in this piece.

Ed (is a man of many words, fighting his own battle with finding a balance between being happy and being high. While his best friend Danny (Danny Muir) fights the same problem in a different battle. He’s in love with Charlotte (Jodie Davis) and also in love with the idea of his band being being a world wide success, but one thing all three of them share is the loss of their friend Tony. The charcters tell us about how bright their lives were before, before their future became the present and their lives became a mess. When they had more to do than just get wasted. We hear their minds in a collection of pacy outbursts. From Charlotte’s ensemble of thoughts we learn that she needs more than this, than what Dan’s giving her, she needs her feelings to be put first. So she’s leaving. Tomorrow. Which leaves Dan even more confused about his own life. But what can he do about it? It’s clear to us after just a few minutes that Dan’s tormented by his own feelings, having to think about Charlotte’s might be a little too much to ask. Then there’s Ed, who’s off to ikea later with his girlfriend to pick up some curtains but just before then tells Dan what he needs to hear, that is band is crap and if he loves Charlotte then he better get a move on.

The piece is beautifully amplified by a band of thoughts, always present and just as slick. Kayley-Leighanne Stead, Jodie Edwards, Coral Halliwell, Claire Temple and Morgan Oehschlager evoke and encourage the action in the piece and add to that sense of unified confusion in an urban jungle. The leaves on the stage resembling their friend Tony’s tree, creates a kind of metaphor for the piece. Anthing that is not supported, encouraged, looked after, acknowledged and cared for is wasted. The almost forgotten leaves are an example of what can be lost when you lose the ability to be hopeful and honest to yourself. A raw and relevant piece from the dominant voice of Kate Tempest, performed with clever conviction and effective wit, ‘Wasted’ is a piece to be remembered.

Stage Manager- Amber Cole Pendrey

Assistant Stage Manager- Julie Braithwaite


Interview Jukebox Collective


With the exciting news that Jukebox Collective have recently become a new Regularly Funded Organisation funded by Arts Council Wales. As well as supporting their young dancers to perform in Groove on Down the Road at the Wales Millennium Centre. Young Critics Wales project coordinator Guy O’Donnell caught up with Liara Barussi, Company Director and Zoe Munn, Development Manager to discuss the companies past present and future plans.

 Hi both, thanks for taking the time to chat,  firstly can you tell me about the background of Jukebox Collective?

Jukebox Collective is a creative company based in Cardiff, focused on the delivery of the highest quality street dance education, performance and consultancy. The creation of Jukebox in 2004 was a reflection of the increase in demand, as well as the need to provide an outlet for some of the most talented young dancers in the UK.  Over 10 years since its creation, we still keep the core emphasis on nurturing fresh young talent up to professional level, as well as producing high-class work for stage and screen.

The Jukebox mission statement is – “Founded on the principle of excellence in street dance being a right for all, our mission is to inspire, create and educate through street dance and hip hop culture”.


Thanks I wonder if you can tell us how you apply this in practice?

We apply this through the development of a multi-strand approach: Participate, Theatre, Creative Services and The Academy. The approach developed is based on a deep knowledge of the dance forms taught with a growing understanding of the different avenues for dance. By bridging the gap between community and professional work, we provide the platform to support talent from grassroots through to professional. We continue to work with respected industry artists to inspire dancers and support our vision of excellence and education being accessed by all.


The company has its own premises and has held events like the Social Saturday’s can you tell us more about the intention behind these events?

Jukebox is all about sharing and exchanging dance, and these events are needed to create a sense of community within what we do. It’s important to keep an open door and have free public events so that anyone can access what we do.  We want to get people together, to enjoy and exchange, to have fun and to explore something different. We want people to leave with memorable experiences and a taste of what dance can bring to them. These events allow us to reach out to new people, introduce dance styles that may be unfamiliar, and to showcase that street dance forms are a vibrant and vital part of the cultural narrative and to local communities. The get together’s are also a chance to encourage collaboration between dancers as well as with other art forms.


Liara you and Jukebox Collective have been very involved in the annual Breakin’ the Bay Weekend at the Wales Millennium Centre. It appears the WMC have been very supportive of Hip Hop culture. I wonder could you tell us more about your relationship with the WMC and involvement in this event?

Yes, I have been involved in curating the festival since its creation, over 10 years ago. We support Breakin’ the Bay to enable the Welsh dance community to become internationally recognised, as well as educating, inspiring and connecting them with other dancers across the world. This year we focused on sourcing some of the freshest national & international talent in Europe including dancers from France, Switzerland, Germany, Holland & Sweden. Jukebox’s reach on the International Hip Hop scene has attracted dancers from around the world to spectate and participate in the annual event. It’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate Hip Hop culture and all its diversity and bring it to the center of Wales. This year we also introduced a new “Experimental’ category, not only specific to this event but to the local dance community. This was very exciting and showcased a dynamic approach to street dance fusion.


Arts Council England have invested funding in Breakin Convention which takes place at Sadler’s Wells and companies such as Zoo Nation to support their touring. We note that Jukebox company members have just been involved in Zoo Nations ‘Groove on Down the Road’ (which also forms part of Cardiff Dance Festival) at the WMC 13-22 Nov. Could you tell us more about your involvement in this performance?

It’s great to see not only Arts Council England but also the theatre venues across the UK welcoming street dance and making it available to mainstream audiences.  The involvement gives further opportunities to local youth to develop professionally and consider a career in street dance theatre. The Groove on Down the Road production features Jukebox Collective dancers – Jo-el Bertram, Shakira Ifill playing ‘Little Wiz’, and Renee Brito playing ‘Wicked Witch of the West’. We are delighted to participate and work in collaboration with Zoo Nation.

Arts Council Wales have recently named Jukebox as a Regularly Funded Organisation, congratulations! Can you tell us what led the company to apply?

Thank you! We applied as we felt with the support of ACW we could collaboratively grow the organisation to its full potential. Becoming a Regularly Funded Organisation provides us with more opportunity to produce creative work and to realise initiatives that support and celebrate talented creatives. We will also be able to plan further ahead and work more strategically. We are looking forward to developing this partnership and creating some fresh new work.

Your work supports a wide demographic of participants, I wonder if you think your organisation works with young creatives who wouldn’t otherwise be engaged in mainstream arts in Wales?

Yes, absolutely, we attract a diverse group of participants with our programs, and continue to have a point of view that talks to all people, regardless of location, gender, race and income. We are able to relate to a diverse group of people and cultures through their shared common interests. This commitment to equality and diversity is at the heart of all the work we do.

Welsh Assembly Government culture minister Ken Skates has been supportive of your company, Liara could you tell us more about your relationship?

The progressive discussion that the Minister is encouraging is very exciting, and the support really highlights the progression of our arts community in Wales. We are seeing the Senedd opening up to hear younger voices in the arts, and I’m very excited to be a newly appointed member of the Welsh Government’s Arts and Creativity Forum.

  What are the long term plans for Jukebox?

We will focus on creating and expanding our dance Academy as well as continuing to produce compelling high quality dance productions. We want to keep creating opportunities and working closely with the local community, as well as touring professional work, and creating bespoke work for special events and campaigns. We are keen to support the development of young creatives in all aspects of performing arts. We want to work with local businesses and form partnerships to support all the strands of our work, aiming to build a healthy, sustainable company.

My aim with the creative work is to build a collective of dancers who develop a language that can be pushed to the very edges of expressive, aesthetic and visual possibility. I want to make collaborative work that pushes the language of dance to new, deeper levels – exploring the edges of possibility through movement and expression.


And finally how do I find out more if I want to get involved?

To get involved in any strand of the company, from professional development and performance or just for fun, if you have collaboration in mind or would just like to hear more about our work, you can contact

Keep a look out for our new website, which will be launching in January 2016.

Review Parallel Lines, Dirty Protest by Kiera Sikora


Photo credit Kirsten McTernan Photography & Design 

Honesty is severe. We desire it and we require it, we recognise that it is some thing that we always need. But as soon as it’s not what we want, we despise it. We just can’t win, can we?

Dirty Protest bring to Chapter Arts Centre a fantastic 90 minute revamp of their already acclaimed ‘Parallel Lines’ which executes an impulsively precise look at how two colliding worlds affect each other. Playwright Katherine Chandler, through her freshly updated script, allows us to see how a longing for affection affects opposing worlds and the individuals in them in a very witty Welsh manner.

Nothing is hidden. These two worlds are projected right in front of you throughout the whole piece with the cast present on stage, before, during and after their scenes. There’s a clear sense of consistent colliding consciences.

Catherine Paskell’s very slick, precise, physical direction of the piece creates a fighting contrast with the stress, pain and uncertainty that the characters feel throughout. Their movements are thoughtful and are elegantly highlighted by Joe Fletcher’s sharp lighting design and equally supported by Dan Lawrence’s eerie sound scape, together creating a pathway into the minds of the characters and their sole situations.

The stage homes very little set, just a table and few chairs which echoes that idea of loneliness and lack of nurture. But the constant presence of this collision between these two very different lifestyles fills the stage with all that you need to feel their thoughts and experience their dilemmas. The characters’ complexity allows you to empathise with their situations while the careful pace of the piece allows you time to detach yourself from their spoken words, in order for you to see the paranoia that exists beyond the language.


Photo credit Kirsten McTernan Photography & Design

Paskell’s vision lets us explore the baggage that comes with power, class and truth and how we react to uncertainty, isolation and our own versions of normality. The relationship between Jan Anderson as the wayward mother Melissa and Lowri Palfrey as her daughter Steph is one that you can’t help but enjoy and dislike they allow you to laugh and pity them, without asking for either reaction. While Gareth Pierce as Simon and Sara Lloyd-Gregory as Julia are the corrupted and obscurely humorous couple who implore you to recognise the devastation that follows accusations and doubt while also reminding us how important it is to say your P’s and Q’s and park your car considerably.

Throwing away the previous script and starting a fresh two years on with the challenge of it being as real and as relevant as before is a one that would take being beyond brave to do. But, I’ve got to be honest playwright Katherine Chandler and Dirty Protest did it!  The play is intense, indulgent and intuitive. It feels familiar and it embodies a social situation at a raw and original level.


Photo credit Kirsten McTernan Photography & Design

So if you enjoy beautifully written Welsh wit and a story that you can believe then you know where to go. It’s honest, it’s funny and it’s inclusive best get going.

Dirty Protest’s first ever tour of ‘Parallel Lines’ continues at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff until 24th October. They then move onto: Pontardawe Arts Centre on October 28th, Aberystwyth Arts Centre on October 30th Galeri, Caernarfon on October 31st, Soar Centre, Treorchy on 2nd November Ffwrnes, Llanelli on 4th November. And finally, Theatr Hafren, Newtown on November 6th

You’d be crackers to miss it.