Tag Archives: Valmai Jones

Review Miramar Trigonl by Helen Joy

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

 

I have enjoyed a huge ice-cream sundae in the café and am happily taking my seat, when Enid comes over and has a chat. She tells me about the nasty business with her husband and how she’s had to sell the house.

It is a nasty business too. Poor woman. Homeless. Di gartref. How easily it can happen.

I have no idea how I have become fluent in Welsh. Enid is chatting away and we are all listening and we are all tutting and laughing and commiserating with her. She is exaggerated as a story-teller, she relishes the telling of her tale, she compensates for her loss through her canniness. We like Enid but we see she is a cunning old bird. We are sorry when her home is taken and renamed: Miramar. Awel y Mor is nicer, we agree. We don’t mind her moving back in while the new owners are away, china dogs in another family.

The slapstick comedy of the sausage and mash dinner hidden in the cupboard when the inevitable knock on the door comes. We are encouraged not to like the smart and sassy daughters of Miramar but of course, eventually we do. And the sausages make their mark on all of us.

This is about communication – about showing us that spoken language has just one part to play and so we roll from Welsh into English and back again without even noticing. It is about family, life and death and consequences. It is about different tastes and different times and places. It is about home. It is about shit. Cachu. It happens.

Simple props, careful costume and straightforward lighting. All we need to establish a sense of a house and its people in transition. It is nicely performed. Alice and Georgina make good foils to the characterful Enid. Light and dark, this is a strong play with a tidbit of fiery drama at the end. Y sosejis.

I ask two ladies, who are sitting in the evening sun outside The Red House on a Saturday night in Merthyr, whether they speak Welsh. No, they say in unison. Didn’t need to. Understood every word. We’ll be coming again. So funny. We laughed and laughed. Same here, I say. Finally, my knowledge of Welsh swearwords comes in handy and I share some choice ones. We part and you can hear us all laughing up the street. Am dipyn.

We all know everyone in it – recognise and enjoy!

Play:                Miramar

At:                   The Red House, Merthyr

Playwright:          Rebecca Smith-Williams

Producer:             Rebecca Knowles

Director:               James Williams

Theatre:                Triongl

Cast:                        Enid – Valmai Jones

Alice – Rebecca Knowles

Georgina – Rebecca Smith-Williams

Seen:              7.30pm, 18th June, 2016

Reviewer:      Helen Joy for 3rd Act Critics

Running:        Saturday 18th, Redhouse , Merthyr Tydfil

Wednesday 22nd – The Welfare, Ystradgynlais http://www.thewelfare.co.uk/

Links:               http://www.triongl.com/miramar.html

 

 

Review Miramar, Triongl By Gemma Treharne-Foose

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3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

 

An Englishman’s home is his castle, so the saying goes. But what happens when your husband (quite literally) finds himself in the shit and croaks it thanks to his fondness for the horses, leaving you destitute and homeless?

Triongl’s devised production ‘Miramar’, explores what are quite madcap and surreal circumstances in a small, intimate domestic comedy. Valmai Jones perfectly plays the part of interfering and curmudgeonly Enid. Vulnerable and stubborn, she finds herself put up by her friend Myfanwy following her misfortune and is horrified to find herself at the age of 74 sleeping in the Arsenal-themed room of her friend’s Grandson. She’s forced to watch as part-time holiday home landlords strip her house of her possessions as they create their little Welsh minimalist haven. Welsh speakers will recognise the subtle (and not so subtle) references and nods to ongoing anxieties and concerns about second homes in Welsh speaking communities here. Triongl play on these scenarios, contrasting the home-spun familiarities and eccentricities of Welsh speaking communities with the somewhat square and distant characters of Miriam and Martin, the couple from Swindon who purchase Enid’s old house. There are language barriers, eye-rolls and asides to the audience as these are played out. Jones’ comic timing and tense/jerky body language are absolutely spot on.

Hilarity ensues when Miriam and Martin’s daughters show up unexpectedly to the house only to find that Enid (disguising herself as neighbour Myfanwy) has moved in. We are taken down a number of paths and alternative ‘this is what could have happened’ scenes as Enid tries to cover up her manipulation and excuses as she plays one sister off against another. Becoming embroiled in the sisters’ bickering and back-story, the tangled comedy culminates in a sweet ending which will tickle you pink.

Audience members who don’t speak Welsh may struggle to get the full meaning and richness of Enid’s monologues in Welsh but the production helpfully gives a ‘cheat sheet’ to audience members delivered at the start (in character) by Enid herself. So you can find out just what Enid means when she says ‘cachu’ (shit), ‘Ty haf’ (holiday home) and ‘di gartref’ (homeless). This production will capture your attention to the very end and Welsh speakers will (ironically) feel right at home with the observations and cross overs between English and Welsh, village and city, old and new and all the complexities that go with it.

For all the ‘funnies’ in the play, there’s a sober message, which was highlighted by a post-play talk by Shelter Cymru. 97% of its cases are related to cases like Enid’s, not just homelessness out on the streets, financial insecurity is on the rise and we are typically only two pay packets away from homelessness ourselves. Miramar reminds us that we all need a place to call our own and to feel secure; whether it’s a place with china dogs and pink throws or stripped floorboards and minimalism.

Type of show: Theatre
Title: Miramar
Venue: Chapter Arts Centre
Dates: 16 & 17 June 2016
Author(s): Rebecca Smith-Williams
Director: James Williams
Lighting Design: Dan Young
Technical: Richard Balshaw (Production Stage Manager) and Jorge Lizalde (Graphic Design)
Cast includes: Valmai Jones (Enid), Rebecca Knowles (Alice) and Rebecca Smith-Williams (Georgina).
Co-producer: Rebecca Knowles
Running time: 65 mins

 

 

Project Review, Making It! by Helen Joy

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Parama 2 Making it – LIVE!

A review of the programme of scripting workshops leading up to and including, the production: by a participant.

A small group of women of a certain age gather together in the curious spare rooms and spaces of the Wales Millennium Centre every Tuesday afternoon for 9 weeks.

March 15th

We introduce ourselves cautiously to our facilitators, Valmai Jones and Catrin Edwards; and to each other. Why are we here? Personal growth and development, honing skills and learning new ones, changing paths, making connections. A mixed bag of skills too–clowning, illustrating, writing, performing, acting – and a fair few years of life experience to boot. We watch Catrin’s film, Voices From the Factory Floor, with extra voices from the WMC breast cancer charity fashion show below. A heady mixture of women’s words on a Tuesday afternoon.

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Responding to the characters in the film seems easier to some than others. Some slip into roles easily; others struggle a little; I have no idea how to pretend and can only be me. I am astonished at the ease with which our group brings life and animation and speech to these women we have only glimpsed, sometimes second or even third hand. Real stories slip out so naturally hidden in the make-believe.

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Now, Val employs a little trick each week. Relaxation exercises for the body and the brain with closed eyes. Her mellifluous Welsh lilt calms our nervous spirits and revives our inner creativity. Staring intensely at paper mandalas to free up our right brains – mind over myth – becomes part of our shared experiences, part of bonding the group and comforts changes with consistency. This is neat.
We play a kind of Consequences – throw our titles into a hat, pick one, write some lines, pass it on… we read them out – remarkably adept little stories, tight, funny, sad, clever but mostly text, not so much dialogue.

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As the weeks roll on, we learned to examine characters and how to bring them to life through words and play. We had homework: write up your character – give her life. Give her words to say. And playlets form with monologues, dialogues, complex scenarios. Characters cry, laugh, shout and dance. Some of us stay with the themes of the film; some use the Consequences storylines; others choose something new. Somehow, perhaps not surprisingly, we all talk about the influential women n our lives.

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I struggle with reading out my words, my dialogue. And the first time it matters, I can’t do it. I am ten years old and I will be humiliated. I hand my script to Val. She is so kind and talks me through ideas and scenarios and builds my confidence.

The call goes out – posters are ready, the time and date is set – we will be performing at 3pm on the 9th May in the Preseli Rooms at the WMC. Tell your friends and families.

I write a script over an evening. I have been mulling over the idea for a few weeks now without realising. I cannot face reading it. I wonder how the others are managing.

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May 8th

Rehearsals. It is a beautiful, hot sunny day outside and we are all inside, fretting over scripts, tripping over stage hands and working with professional actors. This is getting very real. We are called to the stage, Val is acting and Catrin is directing. We are multi-tasking at a superhuman level.
I cannot open my eyes when they start to read my play. Gradually, I uncurl and watch and listen and begin to edit and critique and love it. Not love my work – but love the process. I discover acting is a joy – to be someone else for someone else is a privilege. I try so hard to do it as well as I can. Everyone else seems so much better at this but inside, I guess, we all feel the nervous.

May 9th, 3pm

Somehow, out of all the chaos, a slick series of plays is presented to a small but hugely appreciative audience. All credit to Catrin and Val for their inspiration and facilitation. All credit to the actors and stage hands for adding that professional edge.
And to us? Well. We pulled it off.

The audience, mostly made up of women from Voices from the Factory Floor, has enjoyed our efforts very much. The plays remind them of conversations had with their own mothers, fathers, daughters and friends. One said that we hadn’t needed scripts to read – that we could have just chatted amongst ourselves on stage – and there I see the compliment, our work was natural, candid observation with each of us adding our own personalities and quirks to tell tales. Not perfect but gentle, the work of women who have been there.

I am not alone in being relieved yet ecstatic as the event closes but oh so sorry that this series of workshops is not continuing and that we are left to go our own ways with our words.

The project  was supported by Age Cymru’s Gwanwyn Festival which is funded by Welsh Government and Arts Council of Wales, WI in Wales and Women’s Archive of Wales

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http://gwanwyn.org.uk

http://gwanwyn.org.uk/events/making-it-free-drama-scripting-workshop-for-older-women/

http://gwanwyn.org.uk/events/parama2-presents-making-it/