Tag Archives: RWCMD

Review Ripples – Sherman Theatre/RWCMD/National Theatre Wales, by Richard Evans

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Ripples can be viewed online for two weeks, please note this review contains information about this production.

Is it ever possible to overcome addiction?

Ripples, a Sherman Theatre/RWCMD/National Theatre of Wales production is a story of 8 people who say they have succumbed to addiction as they journey through twelve weeks of group therapy.  Owing to the shutdown of society at this time, the play was presented in a video conference.   Did this detract from the play as a spectacle?

It was a treat to be able to watch theatre having been deprived of it for several weeks.  It is great to see people using their imagination to continue with theatre even though we cannot meet in person.  Ripples is a very good example, an enterprising adaptation of a script due to be performed on stage by graduates of the RWCMD and directed by Matthew Holmquist, written by Tracy Harris.  Of course it lacked the immediacy that live theatre brings.  However I have taken part in a fair few ‘Zoom’ conferences recently and understand the glitchy nature of the system and the awkwardness with dialogue that can arise.  Thankfully the technology worked and the presentation came across as professional and well edited.

The storyline did not make for leisurely viewing, but then again theatre should reflect a range of human experience and this play confirmed that sometimes there are no easy answers and neat endings in life.  It was powerful, personal testimony that explored the extremes of human experience and touched on issues like rape, abuse, bereavement, homophobic violence, suicide, betrayal and forgiveness.  Many of the characters demonstrated symptoms of mental health problems.  These were cited as reasons why people fell into addiction and while some people find themselves in this situation owing to more mundane circumstance, it is a truism that there is a reason why people become addicted. 

The play communicated the awkwardness of starting a group therapy session, wondering what the point is when you perform a seemingly spurious exercise designed to get people talking. It then successfully explored how people found others quite annoying or alternatively warmed to each other.  There was plenty of tension between certain characters but also you could find supportive advice and appreciative friendship.  This reflects the dysfunctional and disrupted lifestyle that addiction can bring and how an addict can need others but also find it hard to form productive relationships

The awkwardness posed questions of such group sessions.  How open should I be? Do I tell the truth?  How much truth do I tell?  These are tough questions for anybody but amplified by the fact that addiction involves living a lie for many people.  The level of conversation was so deep that it brought its own awkwardness as well.  People were sharing at a level normally seen only in a patient/counsellor relationship or with the deepest of friends, yet here you do the same with people who are strangers to each other. 

This rammed home possibly the most salient point in common with people who suffer an addiction, vulnerability. The play did an excellent job of uncovering how each of the characters was vulnerable, both as a reason for addiction and a consequence from it.  It also illustrated that testimony given was a mixture of truth, personal interpretation of events and make-believe.  All of the characters were looking for trust and support, but these attributes were hard to find.  All characters demonstrated the desperation to escape addiction yet many would not have the will to achieve this.

The play had an ambiguous ending.  The lead counsellor did not attend the final session having found the previous too troublesome, when one member after an argument walked out to return to her addictive lifestyle.  In that sense, the group failed and this is a key message.  Sometimes with the best will in the world, addiction is so powerful that people cannot escape no matter how they try. 

However this was only partial failure and certain characters formed relationships that may well endure and stated that they had benefitted considerably from this exercise.  Such is the nature of rehab.  Looking at the optimistic side of the ending, there were plenty of reasons given for people to be alive, dancing, late night conversations, love, sex, laughter, swimming in the sea, music, and perhaps most importantly, faith – generally and in people.  I found this a great thought to be left with.

This was an intense play and watching it onscreen made for a different experience.  Of course it lacked immediacy and it was easy to lose concentration as I was at home with a few distractions around.  It lacked the breadth of action possible on a stage compared to 8 screens on a television, but the static nature of the performance added to the bleak, personal nature of the stories.  I thoroughly enjoyed the production and thought each of the members of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Catrin Walker-Booth, John Tate, Luke Nunn, Emily John, Shannen McNeice, Mark Henry Davies, Dafydd Thomas and Meryn Davies Williams acquitted themselves with distinction.  Given the topic matter, this play is not for everyone, but those who get to see it will find it a memorable, thought provoking piece of theatre. It is available online for the next two weeks on the AM Channel here.

Richard Evans

Preview: CRAVE by Sarah Kane at The Other Room

As their showcase production of the Professional Pathways Programme at The Other Room, Yasmin and Samantha are presenting Crave by Sarah Kane, at The Other Room running between April 30th and May 11th 2019.

I met up with Director Samantha Jones, Producer Yasmin
Williams and Assistant Director Nerida Bradley to chat about Crave, Sarah Kaneand the Professional Pathways Programme.

Why Crave? Why Sarah Kane? Why Now?

Being completely technical, for the Professional Pathways
Programme I think this is exactly what we needed. There are no limitations, no
rules, no guidance and that’s exactly what we needed from a script as a
challenge and a gift.

When next are we going to get the opportunity to stage
whatever we want with no limitations – Sarah Kane, obviously. It’s exactly the
kind of work we’d like to see more of in Cardiff. The way it plays with form, but
also what it says and what it means to people.

The Other Room opened with Sarah Kane and this play was an
artistic turning point for her career. So, it just felt right, being the first
Professional Pathways Programme at The Other Room and a turning point in our
careers, to stage this play.

There are loads of reasons why this play is relevant now, but
really what’s so great about Sarah Kane is that she’s so real she’ll always be
relevant and so will Crave.

What does
Sarah Kane mean to you as artists and people?

As an artist she’s bold and experimental. Her work is full of
anger, but doesn’t fall into the trap of angst or the box people tried to put
her in. She’s angry but it still feels feminine without the work needing to be
about femininity. Just feminine through the way she uses language. Everything
in the text is earned and the artists involved in her plays have to raise their
game to her level.

As a person, she doesn’t make you feel judged, she just makes
you feel and reflect. She can make you feel anything with her words. When I
first read one of her plays, I had to read the others and read them all in one
sitting. She’s just great.

What’s your
aim with this piece?

Is it enough to say truth? Sarah Kane said, “I write the
truth and it kills me,” so it’s important to stay true to that.

But also, Crave is
written in a way that allows us to play and experiment. She was bold and
experimental in writing this play, so we need to be the same in presenting it

It’s about what it means to be a human, the loneliness that
comes with that, what love is, etc. We all have different perspectives and
feelings in regard to this play, as I’m sure you will when you see it. Everyone
will feel different things as the play is so true it relates to everyone individually.
We want the audience to reflect and feel something about the themes, but more
importantly about themselves.

Samantha Jones, director, speaking to actors.

Sam, considering how open the script is to a director’s interpretation, how are you approaching Crave as director?

Crave is a play
that is always moving and changing as you work on it, so it’s more of a
facilitation process, rather than direction and I wouldn’t have it any other

It’s key working with Nerida, not only as one of the best assistants
around, but as someone who loves Sarah Kane and understands the text in a way
that is different, but just as brilliant, to me. The whole team, including Yasmin
and the actors, the same. The moment someone puts their stamp on Sarah Kane is
the moment the it dies. So, everyone in the room has a voice.

Yas, with
the everchanging, undefined nature of the script and production process, how
are you approaching Crave as

One of the great things about the Professional Pathways
Programme is that this is the first full-show I’ve produced on my own, and I’ve
been trusted to do so. The experience has sort of confirmed my theory that
nobody really knows what a producer is and it’s an everchanging role in
theatre. But given me confidence in knowing that’s okay. There is no set of rules
for a producer as the job changes so much from show-to-show.

Part of what makes producing Crave so great, is that I have to be involved in the creative discussion to do the job. It might be easier to produce if things were more set in stone, but as the piece is constantly moving forward and growing I need to stay on my toes and get involved in the room. It’s very hands on and it needs to be as I have to stay connected, artistically, to the production.

How have
you found the past year at The Other Room as part of their Professional
Pathways Programme?

Professional Pathways Programme has been a great way to step into the world of
professional theatre making. Building new relationships, especially with each
other as this year has just made us want to work with each other more in the
future. Opportunities to work with new writing with things like SEEN and Spring
Fringe Script, working with Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama have also
been super beneficial.

Learning how
a theatre building works and runs, beyond the shows, has probably been the
biggest thing to learn. And now getting to work on whatever play we want, being
able to produce it and put it on for a full-run is the perfect way to end the
year. Overall, it’s been an invaluable experience for both of us.

Nerida, as
you’re on arts placement at The Other Room and assistant director on Crave, how have you seen Yas and Sam
grow over the last year?

They were always capable of doing this. But they’ve just had the chance to prove it. They’ve not just done the job but really added to the discussion and put their ideas forward. In particular they’ve absolutely smashed the year in transforming SEEN and working on Spring Fringe Script amongst other things. It’s just so great that they’ve been given the opportunity and platform to show what they can do as well as learn and move forward.

Actors rehearsing the script.

Crave runs at The Other Room in Cardiff between April 30th and May 11th 2019. Presented in collaboration with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and The Other Room’s Professional Pathways Programme. You can read more about the production and the Professional Pathways Programme HERE.

Crave by Sarah Kane at The Other Room, Cardiff
30th April – 11th May 2019
Directed by Samantha Jones
Produced by Yasmin Williams
C – Emily John
M – Johnna Watson
B – Benjamin McCann
A – Callum Howells
Assistant Directed by Nerida Bradley
Set Designed by Zoe Brennan and Mimi Donaldson
Sound Designed by Joshua Bowles
Lighting Designed by Ryan Joseph Stafford
Stage Managed by Millie McElhinney
Deputy Stage Managed by Emily Behague

REVIEW: TURBINES at RWCMD by Gareth Ford-Elliott

 out of 5 stars (1 / 5)

Turbines by Sarah
McDonald Hughes follows six students (aged around 15-16) in a unit-classroom as
they deal with the stabbing of a schoolmate. This leads to Mia stabbing her
teacher in the first scene as the play attempts to explain why this happened,
exploring who these young people are.

The play suffers from the use of stereotypical characters who
possess little depth and writing that feels lazy. As though
students are chucked in a unit and that will justify the stabbing, but it doesn’t.
Even within their backstories, their presence in the unit is not justified.

As it is, the play feels it would be more interesting placed
in a standard classroom as the play currently comes across as a series of events
that are mostly irrelevant or insignificant, particularly given the moral
protection of the unit.

The flow is constantly interrupted, and it moves too fast
without allowing time to explore the characters. There are a few breaks that offer
potential such as Tina’s boyfriend breaking up with her or a flashback to the
start of Mia and Grace’s early friendship. But even these scenes show very
little emotional intrigue.

There is no overriding story, really, besides the two
stabbings. The backstories cover most of the play, but these are stereotypical.
Parents who argue, a young pregnancy, an ill mother, and so on. These
backstories are not unique, offer little significance and just when you’re
expecting something to tie it all together, they look at some turbines, say
they feel calm, and nothing happens.

Moving onto the turbines, the title of the play and the key
piece of symbolism provided. Trying my hardest to drag something out of this, I
would say that the turbines are meant to represent serenity and persistence in a
tough environment. A symbol that allows the students to express. The rotation
of the blades also possibly referring back to the cyclical nature of knife
crime. The symbolism is somewhat tacked in and unclear, with potential it’s
just not reaching.

Turbines explores
multiple possibilities that can happen when the major event, the stabbing, occurs
and explores how that might affect their lives differently. It’s also unclear
which of these is the ending or if the writer wants there to be one specific
ending. Perhaps not an issue for where this piece was imagined to be but given
that it appears to try to question why this stabbing might occur, the lack of a
definitive ending is a problem.

I can see where this play goes wrong in the writing process,
as it has a singular focus at its core and fitting that to a cast of seven is hard.
It centres around Mia and everyone else is basically irrelevant. And if that is
the aim, then why bother with 90% of the rest of the play? There is potential
there for a good play about Mia. But it needs expanding, focusing and lots of

I just struggle to see how a play produced in collaboration
with Paines Plough could be quite this underdeveloped. My guess is that the
writer wasn’t afforded the time or support necessary for this piece to succeed.
I don’t think you can pin the play’s failures solely on such a talented and
promising writer.

Emily Ling Williams direction just falls a little flat. There are attempts at characterisation through the acting, some of which work, some don’t. The tone and pace are not handled particularly well, however this is quite hard as the story beats are all over the place. It’s a tough play to direct, but Williams stumbles to raise the bar for the production.

Rocky Hood’s lighting works well, very understated, but is one of few positives from this production. The sound design from Jack Lancelot Stewart is fine. It’s nothing exceptional and sometimes intruding, but decent overall.

Clare Johnson’s set is a little clunky and often gets in the
way, although does a good job of establishing location. The fans, representing
wind turbines, just look tacky and don’t work.

The performances from the cast of seven are all decent. But really, most of the actors don’t have much to play with. There are clearly attempts at characterisation made by the actors with the director. Amesh Edireweera’s mannerisms as Liam, Finnian Garbutt’s boyish immaturity as Reece and Nina Bloomgarden’s grace as Grace all stand out as expansions on the script.

Unfortunately, the school teacher, portrayed by Lilly Tukur,
Jack (Harry Heap) and Tina (Julie Lamberton) are all pretty much unsavable. The
performances are good for the most part, given what they had, but they really
deserve better.

Abbie Hern stands out as Mia. Her character has the most
substance and is the most explored. Hern rises to this and delivers a great
performance which is one of few shining lights in this production.

Turbines examines
young people and their actions in what is an underwhelming production that can’t
be saved by its strong cast.

Turbines performed at The Bute Theatre, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
19 – 21 March 2019 in Cardiff
Transferring to The Gate Theatre, London, 2 – 5 April
Written by Sarah McDonald Hughes
Directed by Emily Ling Williams
In Collaboration with Paines Plough
As part of RWCMD’s ‘NEW’ Season
Abbie Hern as Mia
Nina Bloomgarden as Grace
Finnian Garbutt as Reece
Amesh Edireweera as Liam
Julie Lamberton as Tina
Harry Heap as Jack
Lilly Tukur as School Teacher
Production Team:
Set & Costume Design: Clare Johnson
Lighting Design: Rocky Hood
Sound Designer: Jack Lancelot Stewart
Assistant Production Manager: Alexandra Drescher-Elphick
Stage Manager: Jessica Forella
Deputy Stage Manager: Cara-Megan Rees

Assistant Stage Manager: Amy Hales
Design Assistant: Rachel Merritt
Technicians: Ella Cunnison, Kitty Dunning, Jamie Holden  and Paul Kaiba
Venue Technician: Evie Oliver
Supervisors: Kristy Bowers, Rob Clarke and Laura Martin


 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Please note this review contains references to sexual violence and discusses the production’s plot in detail.

Eternity and Time
by Jacob Hodgkinson follows a 14-year-old girl, Maya, who is sent
as a drug-runner from Liverpool to Bangor by Dabs. As the play develops, it
becomes increasingly evident that she wasn’t meant for a life in the city, but
instead something freer. Between Eternity
and Time
is about environment, coming of age and finding your place in the

The writing by Jacob Hodgkinson is generally OK. The plot is straight-forward and the dialogue is realistic. There’s rarely a boring moment as the play moves at a good pace, mostly with purpose and with a good amount of humour.

However, characters are very stereotypical, underdeveloped
and in one case, Kitty, completely unnecessary. Other characters have no
redeeming qualities, especially Dabs, the main drug-dealer, who just seems to
be bad with no justification, even to himself. Maya similarly, has no negative
quality. She doesn’t seem vulnerable, as a fourteen-year-old in the drug-scene
would be, despite being taken advantage of, and never does anything wrong. This
makes her feel passive and hard to connect to through no-fault of Kate Jones
who performs well.

There are also a few moments of expositional speech that
really drag, ruining the rhythm of the piece. In particular when Maya explains
her half-brother, Tom’s, personal history and interest in Warhammer to Mush.
This goes on far too long and is too expositional to be interesting. It’s also irrelevant
to the rest of the play. It could be cut and we wouldn’t miss a thing. We
understand exactly who Tom was through William Kirk’s great performance.

A minor issue is that it’s not realistic for a drug-runner to
be forced to put drugs up their bottom to transport on a train from Liverpool
to Bangor. That’s something only really used to smuggle across international borders
through airports. Not really from Liverpool to Bangor. Not impossible that it’d
happen, but it doesn’t help with the suspension of disbelief and seems to exist
solely to make Dabs look evil when he forces Maya to do this.

The play is gritty realism that leans into surrealism at
times as actors don stag masks and speak about Maya’s backstory through metaphor
that compares Maya’s animalistic nature to that of a young fawn. For most of
the play this feels odd, until the end where it finally pays off. The
juxtaposition of the surreal, animalistic and rural nature to the societal,
urban, reality fits what the play attempts to talk about. But perhaps would be
stronger were it explored more in the direction before the end of the play.

Otherwise, the direction from Hannah Noone is strong. From
script to stage, the play improves and Noone certainly contributes to the play’s
strengths whilst balancing out its weaknesses. The scenes are short-and-snappy
for the most part, but are directed well, with close attention paid to pace and
tone, so this isn’t an issue.

Some of the music choices are bordering on offensive. It’s
clear that some working-class, Liverpudlian, drug-dealers listen to rap music.
But we don’t need that shoved in our faces, especially as it’s not personal to
the characters. It feels a little like Noone and sound designer, Charlie Foran,
have thought, “what music is ‘street’ and reflects drug-dealing?” And then
instantly picked the most instantly recognisably ‘black’ music genre, hip-hop,
which is bordering on racist stereotyping. It just doesn’t sit well. It also
does nothing to increase that feeling of ‘Liverpool’, so some local music would
be a better fit.

The music generally feels like a missed opportunity to draw a
real distinction between Liverpool and Bangor and between the urban and the
rural. This is explored at times, but really not enough, which is a shame given
the overriding theme of the play.

The set from Harrison Lee is minimal which works well,
allowing the writing and acting to be the main focus which is the point of RWCMD’s
‘NEW’ season. This, however, means that the lighting is very important. Luckily,
Leonora Nicholson’s lighting design is exceptional and compliments the production
well, enhancing almost every scene.

Despite the stereotypical and often weak characters, all performances are brilliant – for what they were given.

Ed Piercy makes Blowback feel like a victim of circumstance,
which makes him feel like a young-man from Liverpool, caught up in the drug-scene
with no way out. His performance is realistic and makes his character very

Grace Quigley gives a strong performance as Nicole, acting
with conviction. Saran Morgan as Kitty was great, even if her character was
basically unnecessary. I felt sorry for her, playing a character who doesn’t
really have any substance or meaning – but she does a good job regardless. Alex
Leak as Dabs is also strong, although his accent seemed to switch at times. William
Kirk’s nervous demeaner is really powerful in a play full of confident
individuals. Ruby Hartley as Crystal is also great, as is Kate Jones as Maya –
both however felt incomplete as characters and that meant the performances are
somewhat over-done.

Aron Cynan’s subtlety and creepy vibe as Mush is the standout.
He’ll have your skin crawling even before he does anything wrong. Something is
just ‘off’ with him from the start and it’s really powerful when he eventually

Unrelated to the quality of the production, but no less important, is the lack of trigger warnings provided by the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. In the programme and website there are no trigger warnings for sexual violence or flashing lights in this production. So, you can imagine my shock when Mush and Maya are involved in a scene of strong sexual content, this urgently needs addressing. The theatre has a responsibility to challenge its audience’s minds, but care for their bodies. This production succeeds at challenging its audience, but due to the lack of trigger warnings, puts its audience at risk.

Eternity and Time
is an intriguing exploration of environment and
finding one’s place in the world that achieves its aims, but not without its

Between Eternity and Time performed at The Richard Burton Theatre, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
19 – 21 March 2019 in Cardiff
Transferring to The Gate Theatre, London, 2 – 5 April
Written by Jacob Hodgkinson
Directed by Hannah Noone
In Collaboration with Sherman Theatre
As part of RWCMD’s ‘NEW’ Season
Kate Jones as Maya
William Kirk as Tom
Aron Cynan as Mush
Alex Leak as Dabs
Grace Quigley as Nicole
Ruby Hartley as Crystal
Ed Piercy as Blowback
Saran Morgan as Kitty
Production Team:
Set & Costume Design: Harrison Lee
Lighting Designer: Leonora Nicholson
Sound Designer: Charlie Foran
Assistant Production Manager: Alexandra Drescher-Elphick
Stage Manager: Gemma Smith
Deputy Stage Manager: Melanie Allen
Assistant Stage Manager: Grace Bilsborough
Design Assistants: Cleo Andriola and Bence Baksa
Technicians: Ella Cunnison, Kitty Dunning, Jamie Holden and Paul Kaiba
Venue Technician: Kieran Gough
Supervisors: Kristy Bowers, Rob Clarke and Laura Martin

Review of “The Magic Flute” performed by RWCMD at The Sherman Theatre by Roger Barrington



 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)


Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” which recently finished its short run at The Sherman Theatre in Cardiff, is an accomplished and often very funny interpretation presented by The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Prince Tamino, (tenor Huw Ynyr) is rescued from a serpent by Three Ladies, attendants on the Queen of the Night, (soprano Bernice Chitiul). She promises Tamino the hand of her daughter Pamina, (soprano – Lucy Mellors), if he can rescue her from the hands of the evil Sarastro, (bass – Blaise Malaba), who has kidnapped her. Together with the Royal Birdcatcher Papageno, (baritone – Dragos Ionel), they go off on search of the unfortunate Pamina. They have been granted two magical instruments to accompany them on their dangerous journey. Tamino is given a flute, personified onstage by Andrew Martin, and Papageno bells in the shape of xylophonist James Harris.

The remainder of the action depicts the rescue attempt and the trials and tribulations forced upon Tamino and Papageno to effect the rescue.

Mozart was a Freemason, and symbolism and ritual are shown in this opera in a thinly veiled allegoric way. Masonic themes such as good vs. evil, enlightenment vs. ignorance, and the virtues of knowledge, justice, wisdom and truth are all here. The mysterious worship of Isis and Osiris,  Egyptian Gods concerned with the Afterlife, and a libretto by  Emanuel Schikaneder is full of symbols and rituals associated with Freemasonry. The number three which has a strong association with Freemasonry features strongly as well. Witness the Three Lady attendants of the Queen of the Night, the Three Boys in their flying machines that guide our two heroes in the rescue attempt and the serpent that is cut into three pieces are just some of the references to this number in the opera.

Director Martin  Constandine has an impressive c.v. having previously worked with The Royal Opera House, RSC, English National Opera, WNO and a host of other influential companies. On the basis of what is on display in this production, you can clearly see why this is the case.

In his version, Sarastro is the leader of a totalitarian cult, (suitably named The Brotherhood), whose subjects are brainwashed on a daily basis to render them zombie-like in their passivity.

Masonic symbols abound although chevrons are, I believe, more associated with The Illuminati.

In one highly comic scene, the clones are transformed from their usual catatonic state into a dance troupe doing the twist upon reacting to the magical effects of the bells.

Chad Healy’s busy set design works well. At the opening to Act 2, the curtain opens to a number of girls in a typing pool and then in the upper back section a scene of a clone receiving their daily dose of “medication” contrasts brilliantly.

Huw Ynyr has a very pleasant tenor voice. He also sings with great clarity. This version is in English written by Jeremy Sams.


Likewise Lucy Mellors has a very fine soprano voice.  Her aria after Tamino refuses to speak to her, (one of the trials he must pass in order to gain admission to The Brotherhood), Tamino, see, these tears flow for you alone, beloved is sung with great sincerity and intensity.



Dragos Ionel’s Papageno, has a resonable baritone voice, but he excels in his comedic  acting.



Blaise Malaba as Sarasto looked the part as the arch-baddie commanding an ominous presence on stage. His bass singing may  lack a little power in the deepest range, but in other respects he is excellent.


Bernice Chitiul as Queen of the Night rendered a performance of the highest order. It didn’t surprise me when reading the programme notes that she has performed at London’s  Wigmore Hall. Her two arias, both technically difficult showed her ability as being able to master the coloratura skill required.




The Three Boys and The Three Lady Attendant offer admirable support.

The orchestra of the RWCMD under the baton of Gareth Jones, play Mozart’s score with the lightness and fluency required and complement the singing perfectly.

There are many future stars in the world of opera on view in this production, and one hopes that it will tour in the future so that audiences can enjoy to-notch opera at a very reasonable price.


Roger Barrington


‘Must-See’ FREE exhibitions at RWCMD

If you have an interest in theatre or the visual arts there are a range of free exhibitions taking place at RWCMD right now!

Gridding Up Exhibition

Tuesday 3 January – Tuesday 28 March

Painted in just four days, these works by our second year Design For Performance students and MA Scenic Art students are scaled up from small images using traditional methods of ‘gridding up’. A chance to admire their work off the stage as well as on, in the sets of our Richard Burton Company productions throughout the year. The exhibition also includes a sound installation by RWCMD Composer Naomi Wright, inspired by the artwork.
There is also an exhibition of set design models for Opera and costumes by BA2 & MA students.


Preview Two & One More, What Might Have Been Theatre, RWCMD/Venue 13 by Barbara Michaels


En-route for the Edinburgh Festival 2016 – Exciting New Production from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

.Fasten your safety belt and prepared to be gripped by high drama in Tom Hampson’s exciting debut play Two and One More, which opens on August 21st at Venue 13 at the Edinburgh Fringe and runs until August 27th.   Members of What Might Have Been Theatre are producing and performing in the play at the venue, which is run by the college and has been providing a platform for performers and audiences to explore, create and experience some remarkable drama over the past twenty years.

Viewed at the RWCMD’s Bute Theatre during the run-up to the Fringe, Hampson’s play is set in London during the Blitz. A boy breaks into a London house and is discovered by the man living there alone. Or is he alone? What lies in the room next door? With young sector James Robert Rutherford as the young burglar, this play is guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seat.

The high standard of the productions staged at Venue 13 has seen audiences returning year after year – a critic writing in The Stage described it thus: “If there was an award for the best run Fringe venue, then this would be it.”


An interview with Theatre Designer Bethany Seddon

Our project coordinator recently spoke to Theatre Designer Bethany Seddon on her training at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Youth Theatre at the Sherman Theatre , recent production designs for Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival and career to date.


Bethany (centre) working on the recent Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival

Hi Bethany, You have currently designed a range of productions for Everyman Cardiff Summer Festival You must be busy! Is it possible to give our readers some background information on yourself?

Of course! Well I was born in Newport, South Wales, and as a child and well into my teenage years I was fascinated with theatre and, in particular, acting! I took part in as many productions as possible with school, at the age of 13 I joined the Dolman Youth Theatre and at 16 joined the Sherman Youth Theatre, and both groups offered invaluable experience both on and off stage. As I was approaching the end of my A levels I had a huge crisis of confidence and decided acting wasn’t actually for me… so what was I to do? I took a year and did an art foundation which I loved but by the end of the course, scared of narrowing my options too much, I moved onto a Fine Art degree, which, unfortunately just wasn’t for me. By Christmas I knew I wasn’t enjoying Fine Art at all and I happened to be acting and designing a show with the company Inky Quill. I was so excited by the possibilities of design and part of me had always wanted to design for stage so this seemed like such a logical step for me to take. I did a quick google search, found out Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama did a Theatre Design course and applied straight away. A few weeks later I attended an open day and fell in love a little more, and few weeks later again and I had an interview and luckily, they accepted me onto the course. Three very hard years later, a little caffeinated and sleep deprived I was sent out into the world and, thankfully, I haven’t stopped working since. The course taught me such a wide range of skills that I work between designing for stage, to working in TV and film, and pick up bits of work in assisting and using skills for jobs in technical drawings, construction, painting, prop making and teaching/ creating workshops.

You have worked for a variety of companies in the UK and especially Wales, what are the employment opportunities like for a designer based in Wales?

Between theatre and TV and film work, South Wales is a great place to be based. You have some wonderful companies that range in size and statue that are always looking for new designers to work with. Cardiff is bustling with a whole host of theatres and companies who are always creating new work and writing, which really is very exciting, both for work and just to go and immerse yourself in the creative world. The neighbouring cities around Cardiff are also bustling with creativity, so it doesn’t take much to find yourself working in Swansea, or Bridgend, or Bristol. The arts network is really incredibly small, but people are always on the lookout for a designer, or assistant so honestly it’s just being able to say yes to possibilities… without being taken advantage of, of course.

You frequently support workshop activity with members of the public, do you think this type of activity is important and why?

I believe it is incredibly important work, especially when you believe in what the company is creating. Working with Sherman Five at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff and Mess up the Mess have both shown me how an individual can develop in such a short amount of time through workshop activities, and I have witnessed massive developments in individuals self confidence.


The workshops are all about allowing creative expression, however simple to start and encouraging a participant to let go of their inhabitations. From long term projects to one off days like creating monsters at the Wales Millennium Centre , it’s such a joy to see people from various backgrounds and age groups connect with a task through their creativity.

Are their any individuals or organisations that helped support you in developing your skills and knowledge?


Mr Phillip Mackenzie

Sherman Youth Theatre and the youth theatre director at the time Phillip Mackenzie were brilliant at helping me understand theatre wasn’t all about the text behind a proscenium arch. At the age of 16 I was allowed to explore different styles of theatre which I believe was just invaluable and the group I was working with were all so dedicated and focused on what we were creating, and we had so much fun working on our productions. I honestly look back and think about how lucky I was to be working with that group! I think I might be in a very different place if it wasn’t for the wonderful opportunities to act and travel I had with the Sherman. However my training and work ethic was greatly enhanced by Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the head of the BA Hons Design for Performance Mr Sean Crowley. I learnt so much in those 3 years and would not be doing as well as I am without the training and support of the alumni.


Mr Sean Crowley

When you aren’t involved in the arts or culture what do you like to do in your spare time?

Spare time?! After opening 4 shows in 4 weeks, and having very few days off this year I’m afraid I fail a little at answering this question!

I know I used to like to read and go to see theatre, but for me it’s been a while since I have done either! I normally crash when I get home, or continue working away till quite late, and try to see friends and my family when I can. Luckily most of my friends are in the arts so understand our varying schedules often conflict and the ones that aren’t in this little bubble are the most wonderful people to put up with me without getting too annoyed at long periods of silence!


Model Box ‘Into the Woods’ Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival


Realised Set  ‘Into the Woods’ Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival


Model Box ‘Peter Pan’ Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival


Model Box ‘Peter Pan’ Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival

More examples of Bethany’s work can be found at her website http://bethanyseddon.com

Thanks for that insight into your career Bethany.


 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Audio review of the production with music from the production

‘Cabaret’ is highly regarded as being one of the greatest musicals of all time and has some magnificent songs and fascinating characters, it also has a strong compelling and highly political storyline with a message from history that can’t be ignored. Set in Berlin on the eve of World War Two in the 1930’s, it shows the rise of the Nazis against the apathy of the masses, and describes a change that would prove to have terrifying consequences for everyone who lives in Berlin. Most of the story unfolds in the seedy ‘Kit Kat club’.

I was not sure of what to expect when attending the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama for this production as I had only heard some of the songs from the musical and was unfamiliar with the storyline, so I must admit when the house lights dimmed and the characters began to enter the stage to the song ‘Willkommen’ I was slightly perplexed at the characters in front of me and their stage presence especially only being 17.

For many, including my mother who I attended the show with, imprinted on their mind was the film version of the musical starring Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles, Joel Grey as the compère and Michael York as the young Englishman.
The stage show opens with the arrival of a young American, Cliff Bradshaw (played by Jonathan Radford) in Berlin on New Year’s Eve 1930. In a chance meeting at the railway station, he’s becomes friends with the very polite and helpful Ernst Ludvig (played by Tom Corbishley) who refers Cliff to Fraulein Schneider’s lodging house while he is staying in Berlin. Later in the story, Cliff is introduced to the ‘Kit Kat Club’, a cabaret club where anything can happen. He meets Sally Bowles, a singer who escapes reality when performing her songs in the club.

Set against Cliff and Sally’s relationship, and the relationship between Fraulein Schneider and her Jewish fiancée, the Nazis start to show their might and their threat is felt by all at both the unassuming lodging house and the Kit Kat Club. Adena Cahill as the upper class English Sally Bowles is very good. Fraulein Schneider was played by the believable Rosie Archer whose characterisation was excellent as well as that of Dafydd Gape who played the kind, caring and helpful Herr Schultz. Jennifer Ruth-Adams who played Fraulein Kost was able to do this very well and produced some comical scenes when trying to get her sailor lovers out of the lodging house without Fraulein Schneider finding out.

However, for me the star of the show was Corey Jones as Emcee, whose performance was outstanding and whose stage presence was simply mesmerising and as soon as he entered the stage you could not take your eyes off him. Jones’ Emcee was extremely dark and edgy with an exceptionally strong character and you were never quite sure if he was simply a welcoming host, or one that really despises all people.

Corey Jones as Emcee

Photographic credit Kirsten Mcternan

The level of the singing in the production was brilliant and there was not one character that slipped out of their German or American accents. It felt as though I was in Berlin watching the show. The performance of ‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me’ by Ross Hoey as a young Nazi was very chilling and this was made more powerful when the Nazi flags dropped down on each side of the stage. With well-known songs such as ‘Maybe This Time’, ‘Cabaret’ and ‘Mein Herr’ it is sometimes difficult to live up to audience expectations but the cast of this production surpassed themselves. The band that played during the performance was equally exceptional and brought the music to life.

The ‘Richard Burton Theatre’ housing the performance was very fitting and gave the audience a feeling of intimacy with the characters on stage. You felt you were part of the audience in the ‘Kit Kat Club’ taking part in all the action.

The staging worked equally very well with the theatre and as one entered the theatre we were greeted by a large structure hanging diagonally on stage with simply some chairs below it. There was also a large use of period lights on chains that along with the structure moved during the performance. This was used extremely well as it gave the effect that the ‘Kit Kat Club’ was opening up in front of the audience. The minimal set worked extremely well and allowed the audience to concentrate more on the characters opposed to the surrounding.

The Entr’acte from the Musical ‘Cabaret’.

Overall, this is an utterly breath-taking performance even if it is rather risqué in parts with a chilling end but I will certainly be attending far more shows at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama because if the level of performance is always this high, you are guaranteed an amazing night at the theatre.

Type of show: Theatre
Title: Cabaret
Venue: Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Dates: 22-30 June
Director: Paul Kerryson
Music: John Kander
Lyrics: Fred Ebb
Musical Director: Nathan Jones
Choreographer: Tom Jackson Greaves
Set Designer: Tina Torbay
Lighting Designer: Becky Heslop
Costume Designer: Jessica Campbell Plover

Review Cabaret (Richard Burton Company) RWCMD by Helen Joy


 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

I go into the theatre weighed down by the recent slating on social media: in response to a comment in favour of collaborative working, I was compared to those who did nothing as Hitler rose to power. Troubling from all sides.

I hadn’t seen Cabaret for a very long time, if ever, and couldn’t say that I knew the story. Apposite as it turns out. We all know the songs but few of us know the context.

Partly it’s the space, partly it’s the artistic direction, but this is in your face from the start. And everything is in your face – teeth and tits and hips and all the grotesque of the carnival, smiling, enticing and taking you in. I watch the audience press back in their seats, personal space invaded and we are thrilled.

The story begins and like the train, rattles along happily. Two love stories unfold through song and speech – the older grocer and the landlady, the young American writer and the English show girl – against the light and dark and desperate of mid war Berlin.

The completely brilliant and mesmeric Master of Ceremonies holds each of us in his stare, winking and steely, welcoming and chilling. Better than Wayne Sleep, says my neighbour, he was evil too but ooh, this one makes me shudder. We all want him to notice us, take us into his lascivious dangerous, oh so colourful world.

Sally is sumptuous. Her voice purrs lines of love and confusion and roars and rises as the cabaret of her life is told. As it all unravels around her and the snippets of intrigue evolve into the political cabaret of Nazi Germany, we want her to leave, go to Paris with her man – but she hates Paris.

We witness the sadly comic and beautifully performed love affair of the Fraulein and the Frau over fruit and schnapps come together and fall apart and he leaves, his Jewish faith unwelcome now.

It ends. Our MC rides out with our battered journalist on his train home. He strips. His pink triangle stitched to his shirt. He folds into stage black.

I wish they sold CDs, says the lady in front of me. Oh, so do I. How much would I have relished hearing it all again on the way home. Brilliant, says another. Shocking, says someone else, hadn’t expected it to be so, well, sexual, not sure some of it was necessary. Wonderful, says a young man, reeling slightly.

I am reeling too. How do you know when it is time to act and when it is time to wait and see what happens? Cabaret.

Type of show: Theatre
Title: Cabaret
Venue: Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Dates: 22-30 June
Director: Paul Kerryson
Music: John Kander
Lyrics: Fred Ebb
Musical Director: Nathan Jones
Choreographer: Tom Jackson Greaves
Set Designer: Tina Torbay
Lighting Designer: Becky Heslop
Costume Designer: Jessica Campbell Plover