Theatre in Wales

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Discover - Develop - Produce     

<b>Discover - Develop - Produce</b>

The phrase sums up the raison d'être of Cardiff Based 'Sgript Cymru,' the new national writing company for Wales. Along with 'Hijinx' Theatre Company and the Sherman Theatre they present the best of new and contemporary drama being written in Wales today.

On Wednesday 19th September they laid out their stall in an evening 'Setting The Stage for Tomorrow" at the new Glee Club, Mermaid Quay in Cardiff Bay, an extraordinarily new and smart auditorium, not at all what us Welsh theatricals are used to.

Nevertheless it was a most fascinating and interesting evening, deserving a far better audience than the thirty or so people in attendance. Sadly that has been the story of much quality theatre produced in Wales in recent years. Now with the current companies, things are looking much healthier.

In this last year the plays of Sgript Cymru and Hijinx have been well attended and all of the productions have been of the very highest standard.

The greatest thing in common with the twenty year old Hijinx Theatre and the new Sgript Cymru is that they both give us new drama of the highest quality both in writing and acting. The two companies have very different identities exploring contemporary theatre from different directions but sharing the aspiration to only present work of the very best quality.

Hijinx have been rewarded with £20,000 from Barclays Bank and an additional £10,000 from Arts and Business Cymru. Some of this money will be used to finance their 21st Birthday production and many more exciting productions in the next two years.

Sgript Cymru in collaboration with the Royal Court Theatre (London) is in receipt of a lottery grant that enables it to operate its unique 'Writer in the Community' scheme. Works from writers on this scheme are looked forward to with great interest.

They also offer a very clear set of sponsorship opportunities which anyone considering sponsoring drama in Wales at the present time would be well advised to look at. They will be surprised by what good value for their money can be got!

Last night extracts were read from two of our better-established writers. 'Franco Bastard' by Dic Edwards and 'Ysbryd Beca' by Geraint Lewis. Even in that somewhat alien atmosphere immediately Phil Harries started speaking the words of Geraint's play we were taken into a totally different and extremely compelling world.

Dic has drawn on his personal experience and relationship with Julian Cayo Evans (Also celebrated with a pub named after him in Cathedral Road - Cardiff) leader of the Free Wales Army. The play examines the dark side of Nationalism in a Welsh context. It is a serious and provocative piece with some hilarious moments, embracing a number of universal themes. Sadly, having commissioned the play, at the present moment Sgript Cymru does not have sufficient funds to put this it on &#8212; why not? In my view this is Dic's greatest play to date. Let's hope the funding comes soon, this could well be Wales's first contemporary West-End transfer!

A strong and very justified plea was made by Artistic Director Bethan Jones and her Associate Director Simon Harries for a venue specifically for new writing to be developed in Cardiff on the lines of Ireland's Abbey Theatre, England's 'Royal Court,' Scotland's 'Traverse Theatre' and The Contact Theatre, Manchester. Bill Hopkins, Sgript Cymru's very experienced literary manger is certain that there is a distinctively different audience for new work who would be strongly attracted to such an auditorium. It is an exciting project to visualise and one that all of us who care about Welsh Theatre should be demanding.

Theatre in Wales web site  
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Michael Kelligan
Friday, September 21, 2001back



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