Tag Archives: featured

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

Clod i Noel Shelley

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

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

Beth sbardunodd eich diddordeb yn y celfyddydau?

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

Clod i Sian Treberth

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


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

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


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

Llun o gynlluniau cyswllt Ballet Cymru
Clod i Sian Trenberth

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

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

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

Clod i Erik Emanuel

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

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


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

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

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

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

Dance City, Newcastle.

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

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

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

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

Revisor Crystal Pite


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

Credit Noel Shelley

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

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

What got you interested in the arts?

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

Credit Sian Treberth

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

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

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

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

NDCWales Associates.
Ballet Cymru Associates, copyright Sian Trenberth Photography

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

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

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

Credit Viktor Erik Emanuel


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

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

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

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

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

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

Dance City, Newcastle.

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

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

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

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

Crystal Pite’s Revisor

Review: The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth by Sian Thomas

(3/5)

The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth had some reminiscent tones of Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End. The book, following Saoirse and Ruby’s summer romance, was fated to end with the beginning of university terms and the creeping cold of autumn.
After a good few years of university behind me, it was such good fun to read something light-hearted, summery, and fun. Saoirse is a sarcastic, snappy character navigating the transition from college to university struggling with her decision to go to Oxford and leave behind her mother with dementia and her father exploring new relationships and straining the family. Ruby is excited for the future and for the present, she’s looking for fun as time ticks by before she goes back home – from Ireland back to England.
They agree on a contract – they’ll have fun now, and when the summer ends, so will their time together. In the meantime, they’re living out a list of rom-com stereotypes: movie night, fun fair, teach the other a new skill, kiss in the rain, and every other thing from every other movie under “rom-com” or “cheesy flick” type categories that you can think of. Most of the book is compromised of this, the “fun” part but a depth gets explored as well, Saoirse’s past relationships, Ruby’s family, the ever-looming start of university. It was nice to watch the blossoming of an LGBT relationship. While I’ve read a lot of YA/LGBT books before, on reflection I’ve realised I’ve read more about gay men than I have about lesbians – so this was a great change of pace – and it shined a light on both me and on my bookshelf. There’s a line somewhere tucked in the pages that talks about the absolute lack of lesbian rom-coms which I realised, although I don’t typically watch rom-com movies, is true.
Although I knew that when the book ended so would their relationship and there wouldn’t be some classic “happy ever after” (and I thought I was prepared for that because, like They Both Die at the End, I had ample warning), there was still a strong tug to my heartstrings when I reached the final few pages. Saoirse’s father remarries to a woman that Saoirse grows to like – the relationship grows slowly into something that genuinely feels earned, which is lovely to see unfold after their rocky start – and, as expected, Saoirse and Ruby’s relationship comes to an end with the promise to send a few letters in the post, to show each other their “life debris” as time marches on.
The writing was gentle, funny, and very life like – I’ve found more recently than not that stories that decide to include text messages are getting better and better. The humour comes through them effortlessly – sometimes better than through the dialogue – and they bring an extra layer of life to the characters. This is the kind of book I needed just after a slew of classics and other tomes on my ever-growing university reading list. It was such a great change of pace to read something that was so enjoyable I read through it like a breeze.
The book was a great read, and came along at the perfect time. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to enjoy something easy but heartfelt, something fun and bittersweet. It really is a lovely book.

Sian Thomas

Review, Bregus, S4C by Gareth Williams

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Hannah Daniel gives an impressive performance in S4C’s latest drama series, Bregus. She is almost unrecognisable from her best known role to date, playing straight-faced, sharp-tongued lawyer Cerys in Keeping Faith. Instead, she takes on the character of high-flying surgeon Ellie, whose vulnerability and fragile mental state begin to unravel following the sudden death of her sister, Luce (played by Sara Gregory). Daniel manages to create a richly compelling personality, surrounding her with an air of mystery that is greatly enhanced by the use of camera, music and cinematography. In doing so, she makes the transition from supporting actor to leading lady with aplomb. No doubt awards will follow.

The series begins almost as a mirror image of Keeping Faith, with Daniel adopting the organised chaos of the married middle-class professional with kids first thing on a weekday morning. The initial picture that is painted is one in which everything appears perfect. Life is good. But then an unexpected twist turns everything upside down. Where Bregus then veers from Keeping Faith becomes more apparent, not least in the actions of Ellie, whose accompanying blank expressions could not be more different from the swirling emotion conveyed by Eve Myles as Faith. This is where Daniel excels in producing a sense of detachment both within the drama itself and from us, the audience. She becomes something of an enigma. The lingering close-ups, jarring soundtrack and surrealist techniques all contribute to this unknown element. But it is what surrounds the dialogue between Ellie and husband Mart that really unlocks the general feeling of unease that accompanies the strangeness of this drama.

It is not about what is said so much as what is not said that makes Bregus so intriguing. The surface dialogue contains such rich subtext that it is hard not to be gripped by the exchanges of Hannah Daniel and Rhodri Meilir in particular. Meilir is perfectly cast as the quietly controlling Mart. His ability to play a character with such threatening calmness is ideally suited here. There is always a sense of an ulterior motive behind his composed exterior which, like in his previous role as Bill in 35 Diwrnod, is never quite confirmed until the final episode. In the meantime, it is the suspicion that surrounds him that helps build tension here, with the revelation of his character’s true nature being even more powerful when it finally comes. It is in the final scenes that everything that has been bubbling underneath the surface is suddenly unleashed in explosive fashion. The dialogue then becomes explicit, so carefully crafted as to cut like a knife, and revealing Bregus as a beautifully feminist piece that is incredibly moving to say the least.

Bregus is this wonderful mix of mystery drama, psychological thriller and family psychodrama. At its heart is a wonderfully complex female character whose actions are often far removed from the stereotype. Hannah Daniel portrays Ellie exceedingly well as a mother, wife, friend and surgeon who is not immune to the challenges and external pressures that come with these roles. Her responses are often unexpected and at times surprising, which is partly what makes this drama so absorbing. Its sense of intrigue is elevated by music that is so resonant at times that it overwhelms; close-up shots that are so immersive that they enthral; and the use of surrealism such that one is never quite sure whether what Ellie is experiencing is real or not. It is in the subtlety of expression alongside the dialogue though that should be particularly commended. Daniel and Rhodri Meilir excel at this, though the rest of the cast have their moments too. It is in the mystery at the heart of these relationship dynamics that makes Bregus such a fascinating watch. And it is the vehicle through which Hannah Daniel finally announces herself as a solid and very capable lead.

Click here to watch the series on Clic.

Reviewed by
Gareth Williams

LOVEREADING LITFEST PARTNERS WITH THE RIVERFRONT THEATRE AND ARTS CENTRE AND NEWPORT LIVE IN WALES TO HIGHLIGHT THE EXPERIENCES OF REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS

LoveReading LitFest, the recently launched, digitally native, subscription-based books and literature festival, has partnered with Newport Live – a charitable trust providing cultural and sporting activities in Newport, Wales – to support the launch of the critically-acclaimed debut novel Many Rivers To Cross by Dylan Moore at an exclusive event. The talk will be live on LoveReading LitFest tomorrow.

The author, who is the editor of the welsh agenda, was interviewed about his new book by Sharif Gemie, with the session filmed at The Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre, right in the heart of the city centre. Sharif Gemie is a former Professor of History. He mainly researched people on the move, whether refugees (Outcast Europe, 2011), Muslims in Europe (French Muslims, 2010) or hippy travellers (A History of the Hippy Trail, 2017). He lives in Newport and is currently writing a novel set among UN aid-workers in Germany, 1945—46.

Written following a period volunteering at the Sanctuary Project in Newport, and partly based on interviews with asylum seekers and refugees, Many Rivers To Cross traces a series of journeys – migrations across time and space – from the streets of Pillgwenlly, Newport to the ‘Jungle’ camp at Calais, and from Ethiopia to the island of Lampedusa. Described by Welsh novelist, poet and translator Siân Melangell Dafydd as “an essential story for an age of migration”, the novel takes the reader to places most of us have never been, and would never wish to go.

The event also featured contributions from two refugees originally from Ethiopia, now settled in Newport. Biniyam Birtukan talked about how his work as a freelance magazine journalist in Ethiopia became impossible due to issues around freedom of speech, his role in establishing the famous St Michael’s Orthodox Church in the ‘Jungle’ camp at Calais, and the satisfaction he has found working as a healthcare assistant since being granted leave to remain in the UK. Yohannes Obsi talked about his mixed heritage background and how his support for the formerly banned opposition group the Oromo Liberation Front landed him in government detention, from which he escaped to make a dangerous journey through Sudan, Libya, Italy and France to reach the UK.

Paul Blezard, Festival Director at the LoveReading LitFest, said: “Dylan’s powerful new novel does something extraordinary. It takes us beyond the screen images that have filled us with horror and compassion for too long and straight into the hearts, minds, hopes and fears of those who are forced, or choose, to undertake life-risking journeys towards safety and sanctuary. We are so honoured and privileged to host Dylan, Biniyam and Yohannes and to support them through this important event.”

Alan Dear, Head of Theatre, Arts, and Culture at The Riverfront Theatre, Newport Live said: “TheRiverfront is delighted to make this new partnership and as we start on the long journey of Covid-recovery we hope that literature will form a core part of our future programme. We now have the capacity to provide content digitally and hope that this will provide pleasure to our new and current audiences until a time when we can reopen our doors again.”

Dylan Moore (@_DylanMoore) | nitter

Many Rivers To Cross by Dylan Mooreis published by local publisher Three Impostors at £10

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

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

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

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

What got you interested in the arts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kate, what is your ambition for Portrait and Landscape?

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

Wanda Moretti

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

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

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

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

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

Amelia Cavallo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Serpent – Reflections on a TV Crime Drama

With less to do during lock-down, Simon Kensdale has been resorting to the BBC i Player.  He has noticed how many broadcast crime series consisting of murder enquiries.  Some are truly horrific, like The Serpent, in the sense of being both true and frightening.  It has made him wonder if there is a danger of TV audiences gradually becoming desensitised to violence. Simon explores these areas in the article below.

There is a secondary story in The Serpent about Herman Knippenberg.  He’s a Dutch diplomat obsessed with tracking the killer – Sobhraj – down and his meticulous record-keeping finally results in success. His obsession costs him his marriage and threatens his career prospects.  He’s odd, too, keeping boxes of paperwork with him wherever he goes, rather than throwing anything away.  But at least Knippenberg’s activities are normal – ish. In following the series, through him we see a bit more of humanity than that of a unique, psychopathic killer who gets off on drugging and murdering young travellers in the Far East.

Knippenberg’s behaviour makes him similar to the average TV detective.  We can almost predict – as yet another crime series kicks off with yet another discovery of the body of a dead woman – that there will be someone on the case who can’t let go and who also cannot maintain a private life. The detective will be divorced or uncommitted to a relationship. Recently several detectives have been shown on TV as also having problematic relationships with their daughters. Ironically, in The Investigation – the true story of a particularly bizarre Danish murder, committed on a privately-owned submarine – it turned out that the Head of Homicide really had been alienated from his adult daughter.

The Investigation

What seems to happen in all these series is that the main thrust of the narrative – the need to apprehend a killer – is cross-cut with ‘everyday’ human drama.  The lives of the detectives and the supporting cast of police officers are presented as if they are representative of the wider community. I rather doubt that the professional upholders of law and order are as interesting as the TV companies make them appear to be, or even as interesting as Knippenberg, but I admit that this could be a personal bias. In any case, their personal dramas are never meant to be as important as the main story line. It’s as if no-one believes there’s any serious drama going on in human situations anywhere that does not involve a killing – or three, or nine.  Everything that is not murder is soap.

But murder is rare in European societies.  It is a comparatively easy crime to solve, as there is usually a connection between the murderer and his victim.  Of course, recently the police clear-up capability has been speeded up by the information processing of computers and by the scientific advances which make DNA recordable, storable and traceable.  The police can also monitor mobile phone usage and draw on the massive amounts of film footage accumulated by security cameras. But where there is no connection between victim and killer – as in the case of Sobhraj – or where there has been a professional ‘hit’ – the police are still ineffectual.  They often have to wait for the killer to make a mistake – as in they did in the case of the Yorkshire Ripper – before they can solve the case. 

The fact that you and I know about these new developments is an indication of how many crime series we have swallowed down whole.  We could almost all now write one ourselves.  You open with a shocking and mysterious death, preferably in an unusual setting; you introduce in a handful of ‘interesting’ characters and some back story.  When you feel the tension level flagging, you throw in some more bodies, as if adding fuel to the fire.  (You needn’t concern yourself with the fact that with murders more is actually less, since the audience can’t keep on meting out its sympathy and will get emotionally confused as the body count increases, forgetting who got killed first.)  You can enrich your material with a red herring or an unexpected clue and you must include a chase, on foot or using cars.  You might even put in some comic relief before you wrap it everything up with a dangerous, ‘dramatic’ confrontation with the murderer. The over familiar narrative process is meant to reassure everyone that, however bad things appear to be, truth will out and justice will be delivered.

More than exciting an interest in the nastier side of life and the worst forms of human behaviour, I think there is a problem with this narrative form. Seeking to reassure a mass audience with a basic fantasy is a form of brainwashing.  We are seduced into abandoning our rational awareness that murder enquiries are nothing like as tense and interesting as the way they are presented (The Investigation is an exception to this rule) because of the real time they take and because of the dull routine of the work involved.

More importantly, few of us live the experience of confronting a problem which gets solved, allowing us to we live happily ever after.  Instead of having one large and horrific issue to grapple with we have innumerable minor difficulties that most of the time add up to make our life either frustrating or frightening.  We know this situation is never going to change, that nothing we can do will make any difference and that nobody is coming to help.  If we are not actually the victim in an unsensational case, we will be like the junior police officer expected to solve a crime with access to limited information and having no authority, struggling with a mountain of bureaucracy, against a background of incompetent management and competitive colleagues.  Our family life may not be any more straightforward than our work life.  It will be banal but it will consist of more than a communication difficulty with a daughter.

Given this reality, in my opinion what we need from the purveyors of fiction, is a constructive reflection on our circumstance – an experience exploring the outlines of the predicament we find ourselves in.  This should be done in a way that is not escapism disguised as realism.  The proliferation of crime dramas based on murder stories suggests that TV as a medium, despite the talent and intelligence of the people working within it and despite the quite astonishing technical facilities available to them nowadays, is not able to offer this kind of creative reflection.  Maybe I am expecting too much from what can only ever be light entertainment.  If I want the kind of imaginative experience I am defining, perhaps I have to read novels or go to the theatre.

I did appreciate the ingenuity of The Serpent, in particular the way the timing of the action moved backwards and forwards.  I was suitably appalled by what Sobhraj did, although he was presented as being so perpetually cool and self-controlled that he seemed quite dull.  Little space was given to exploring his capacity to be so charming and desirable that his partner and indeed his ex-wife both found him irresistible, despite their knowledge of what he was capable of.  For me, the really interesting questions surrounding Sobhraj remains not what he did or how he got away with it, so much as why he did it and why others helped him. 

Otherwise I thought the acting in the series was of a good standard – although Tim McInnerny hammed it up as a Belgian. The dialogue was credible and moved the plot on even if it didn’t say much about Sobhraj’s motivation.  Since the series draws on a true story for its outline it only required the details to be coloured in carefully.  The impressive settings for the action in Thailand, India, Nepal and Paris were like pages from a holiday brochure.  

Tim McInnerny

Would a closer focus on Sobhraj have demanded too much of us?  It would have required us to sit and pay attention and respond to words and phrases in conversations and note small gestures and aspects of behaviour in the way we do in front of a live performance.  We would not have been able to just get up and go and make a sandwich or look at our texts or carry on with the ironing.  We might, though, have been truly moved by what we were watching.  We wouldn’t have wanted to either pause an episode or wait until next week for the sequel.  The story would have possessed us.

Numerous people have said they ‘loved’ The Serpent. Personally, whilst I might admit to loving plays by Shakespeare and Moliere, or novels by Dickens and Tolstoy, I can only say the series temporarily distracted me whilst my options of doing anything else other than watching TV were limited by lockdown.  Despite its expensive ingenuity it did not tell me anything new about the human condition and it did not give me that sensation of excitement that engagement with a work of art provides.

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Review, Fflam, S4c by Gareth Williams

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

The recent S4C series Fflam was a slow-burner. I came to it with much intrigue and anticipation given the concept and acting talent. The idea of a woman, Noni, seeing her dead husband, Tim, again, after years believing he had died in a fire, sounded like the perfect spark from which to ignite a gripping narrative. The fact that Gwyneth Keyworth (Bang, Craith/Hidden) and Richard Harrington (Hinterland, Poldark) played the lead roles only served to excite and offer high expectations. So it was with sadness and disappointment that I found myself ultimately underwhelmed by its delivery. It did manage to strike a few matches throughout its six, half-hour episodes. However, these failed to set alight a series that was full of promise but low on satisfaction.

The performance of Keyworth was central to giving the drama a certain kudos that it may otherwise have lacked. Her ability to convey Noni’s internal emotions onscreen was akin to that of Eve Myles in Keeping Faith. The difference here though was the oft understated way that Keyworth did this. She demonstrated the conflict between grief and passion going on inside through very subtle expression which, nevertheless, with help from the camera and editing suite, was full of depth. Her appearances alongside Richard Harrington, particularly those in a restaurant over dinner, provided some of the most enjoyable scenes of the series. The gentle charisma that Harrington brought to his mysterious character, opposite the romantic infatuation that Keyworth successfully tempered as Noni, helped create a sense of ease. It led to a free-flowing script that meant their conversations appeared natural onscreen. These moments became absorbing as a result, giving some required fizz to a drama that, outside of them, felt a bit flat and unengaging.

I wonder whether the drama would have benefitted from having a more compressed narrative in which its central premise was played with a lot sooner and the final twist in the series was incorporated a lot earlier. This would have contributed to the retention of dramatic tension that, instead, bubbles up and then peters out at several points throughout the series. It is not helped by the fact that the characters of Deniz (Memet Ali Alabora), Ekin (Pinar Ögün), and Malan (Mali Ann Rees) were underserved by a subplot that lacked the same level of emotional investment as the main thread. And even in respect of the lead characters’ encounters, the pull-and-push of their developing relationship, though understandable in capturing Noni’s reticence, became increasingly frustrating. It simply took too long to progress, with the undesired effect being that, at points, the series felt like it was playing for time. By the time the revelations started to come out in episode five, they did not elicit the same degree of interest as they might otherwise have done had the narrative been pacier. As such, Fflam would have benefitted from an adaptation that condensed its source material into much more flavoursome half-hour chunks than we get here.

Overall then, Fflam has plenty of plus points to prevent it from being a damp squib even as it fails to set fire to the landscape of Welsh television drama. It is refreshing to see an image of Wales that is multicultural and inclusive played out onscreen, even if the presence of diverse characters only serve to circulate around a central narrative in which they play a limited part. Gwyneth Keyworth cements her status as one of Wales’ most exciting and talented screen actresses, with Richard Harrington and Mali Ann Rees again proving solid and reliable actors in their own right. If a second series is forthcoming, as expected, then Fflam has plenty of room for improvement. But it also still retains enough unrealised potential to warrant another chance.

Click here to watch the whole series.

Written by
Gareth Williams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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