Theatre in Wales

Commentary and extended critical writing on theatre, dance and performance in Wales

A hard Act to follow

Cathryn Scott charts the progress of Sgript Cymru, Wales first bilingual production company

Contemporary drama Company, Sgript Cymru, was formed ten months ago as the principality’s first bilingual production company. It nurtures work by Welsh and Wales-based playwrights with the support of the Arts Council Wales. Their main aim is to bring Welsh work, whether in English or Welsh, to as wide an audience as possible.

Their first production, two one-act plays, Diwedd y Byd and I’r Hen Blant, was written by Welsh language playwright Mike Povey, and premiered at last year’s national Eisteddfod in Llanelli.

Their second offering, Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco, written by Gary Owen, opened last month at Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre and is currently touring across Britain. A lack of funds meant that advertising was modest but the word spread and they soon found themselves performing to packed audiences.

Their latest offering, Art and Guff, tells the tale of two best friends who have moved from Kidwelly to London in search of their big break. The play, written by Catherine Tregenna, opened in Soho Theatre, London, earlier this month and comes to Chapter on April 4th.

Like Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco, Art and Guff was written long before it got noticed. Both sets of writers came to Simon Harris, Sgript Company’s associate director who was successfully running the Thin Language Theatre Company, asking for help because they weren’t getting any interest for their plays in Wales.

At the time he wasn’t in a position to help, but then the Arts Council’s plans for a new drama strategy were announced and Bethan Jones, the artistic director of Talu Sylw (the Welsh language writing company), approached him about the possibility of creating a bilingual company.

When the pair formed Sgript Cymru, Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco and Art and Guff were two of the first scripts they sat down to discuss

One of Sgript Cymru’s many schemes to discover hidden talent is a free-of-charge feedback service for writers. Harris says that anybody who sends the company a play will have their work discussed by a panel of young directors and every one will, at the very least, get a sheet of A4 feed back offering constructive criticism.

The company keep in touch with those who show promise and offer them the ways and means to develop as a writer, such as their development forum, Sgript Xplosure, which gives writers the opportunity to see plays being read and to take part in master classes and workshops with people who are experienced in teaching new play writing.

Alongside nurturing new writers the company also supports the development of new actors. They have formed a three-year relationship with the Welsh College of Music and Drama to commission three Welsh language plays giving aspiring thespians the opportunity to work on high-quality new play by a leading Welsh playwright.

This work is just the tip of what Sgript Cymru would like to achieve. At present they can only afford to run three productions a year and these are in partnership with other people. Harris admits that he has high hopes for the company: “In five years time we’d like to be in a position where we can do at least eight to ten productions a year, so you would see the work on a year round basis.”

If the success of their first two plays is a prediction of the future then Sgript Cymru will surely be a hard act to follow, bringing the drama of Wales to the people of Wales and beyond.

For more information about Sgript Cymru’s work contact 029 2023 6651 or email them on sgriptcymru@sgriptcymru.com

author:Cathryn Scott

original source: Blink: The Bute online Journal
23 March 2001

 

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