Theatre in Wales

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NATIONAL THEATRE WALES PRESENTS FIVE EPIC SHOWS FOR ITS FIFTH SEASON Five big productions will take centre-stage in National Theatre Wales’ fifth season of work, announced this week. The productions reunite the company with some old friends, and introduce some new ones. They were announced in a series of digital messages sent to mobile phones throughout the week (2-6 March 2015).

The five productions are:

• A new, south Wales valleys version of Brecht’s Mother Courage and her Children, performed by a cast of nine women, adapted by Hinterland’s Ed Thomas and directed by NTW’s artistic director John McGrath, with music by The Village Social co-creator Dafydd James.

• NTW’s first co-production with its Welsh-language counterpart, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, which will tell the story of how 150 men and women left Wales in 1865 and settled in Patagonia, told in English, Welsh and Spanish, and created by artist Marc Rees (who made For Mountain, Sand & Sea and Raw Material: Llareggub Revisited with NTW).

• An epic staging of Homer’s Iliad, created by Mike Pearson & Mike Brookes (who created NTW’s award-winning Coriolan/us and The Persians). Each of the four episodes can be viewed individually, while bolder audience members can choose to see all four in one of two extraordinary, omnibus performances - either all day or overnight.

• A family show with a twist, created by the team that made NTW’s Praxis Makes Perfect – Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys, writer Tim Price and director Wils Wilson; a festive theatre gig for audiences of all ages.

• A musical play by writer and poet Patrick Jones, featuring new tracks by James Dean Bradfield and Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers, about a choir of men and women with dementia who clash and bond over their shared histories.

The first two of these five productions are on sale now (see below for box office information). Five other projects are being announced today, alongside these five, big productions (see below for full details).

Artistic director John McGrath said: “It’s a joy to welcome some of the most exciting and popular artists to have worked with NTW back for this celebratory fifth year of work. With five shows on an epic scale at the core of our programme, the year promises to be full of adventure and surprise. I’m equally thrilled at the new artists who are joining us, adding to the wealth of Welsh and international talent re-imagining the theatre landscape. With great acting, beautiful language, digital experiments, community involvement, and a wonderful range of input from some of Wales’ most outstanding musicians, this should be a season to cherish.”

by Bertolt Brecht
in a translation by John Willett
revised by Ed Thomas
Director: John E McGrath
Composer & Musical Director: Dafydd James

Dates: 7-22 May 2015
Venue: Merthyr Labour Club, Merthyr Tydfil

National Theatre Wales returns to its birthplace in the south Wales valleys for the first production in its fifth season – an anarchic, all-female, new version of Bertolt Brecht’s 1939 anti-war play, performed in and around the Merthyr Labour Club. Hinterland creator Ed Thomas returns to the stage to adapt, NTW artistic director John McGrath will direct and My Name is Sue composer Dafydd James will write original music, mixing Brecht’s world with the Saturday-night spirit of Merthyr. Performed by a cast of nine Welsh actresses, in the gutsy English of the south Wales valleys, and in the context of our own unending wars, this will be a 21st Century version of a 20th Century classic.

In 1988, Ed Thomas wrote his first play, House of America. The play won several awards as a play and a film (1996), on both a National and International level. His other works include Flowers of the Dead Red Sea (1991), East From The Gantry (1993), Song From a Forgotten City (1995), Gas Station Angel (1998) and Stone City Blue (2004). They have toured extensively across the world within the UK, Europe, Australia and South America, to theatres including The Royal Court, Donmar Warehouse and Tramway, Glasgow. They have been translated into more than ten languages. Ed is the founder and artistic director of Fiction Factory, and at present is working on HINTERLAND/Y GWYLL, a detective series produced in both English and Welsh for S4C and the BBC, and distributed worldwide by All3Media. Over the last ten years, Ed has written, directed and produced over a hundred and twenty hours of drama in several genres, winning over seventy nominations and prizes including those from BAFTA CYMRU and Prix Europa. His programmes have been distributed to over eighty countries. These include Satellite City, Silent Village, China, Mind to Kill, Caerdydd, Pen Talar, Y Pris, Cwmgiedd/Columbia and Gwaith/Cartref. He lives in Cardiff.

Director John E McGrath is the founding Artistic Director of National Theatre Wales. He has also worked as a theatre director in New York, London and Manchester. From 1999-2008 he was Artistic Director of Contact Theatre, Manchester. He trained and worked in New York for several years, including a stint as Associate Director of leading experimental company Mabou Mines. As a director, he has worked with a wide range of artists including poet Lemn Sissay (Storm, Something Dark and Why I Don’t Hate White People) and hip-hop theatre artist Benji Reid (b like water). For National Theatre Wales, he has directed A Good Night Out in the Valleys, Love Steals Us From Loneliness, The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning, In Water I'm Weightless and The Opportunity of Efficiency (produced by the New National Theatre, Tokyo). In 2004 he published a book about art in the surveillance age, Loving Big Brother: Performance, Privacy and Surveillance Space, and in 2005 was awarded the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA) Cultural Leadership Award.

Musical Director Dafydd James is an award-winning writer, composer and performer, working in theatre, radio and television in both English and Welsh. His work has been performed across the UK and internationally in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Taiwan and the USA. Credits include Psychobitches (Tiger Aspect/Sky Arts), Terrace (BBC, Radio 3), Gwaith/Cartref (Fiction Factory/S4C) Heritage (National Theatre), The Village Social (NTW), Llwyth (Theatr Genedlaethol/Sherman Cymru) and My Name is Sue & Sue: The Second Coming (Dafydd James & Company). Currently, he has a musical project in development with NTW and Heritage is being translated for the National Touring Theatre of Sweden. He also has an original six-part drama series in development with Fiction Factory, and is one of four writers attached to ‘Y Labordy’, a visionary scheme for writers through which he's developing a play, a television series and a feature film.

For more information, or to book tickets, go to:

Full listings information:

Dates: 7-22 May 2015 (except Sat & Sun)
Times: 7.30pm, plus 1pm matinees on 14 & 21 May
Venue: Merthyr Labour Club, 1 Court St, Merthyr Tydfil CF47 8DU
Box Office:
By phone: 029 2063 6464
Ticket Prices: £10-£16 (including local concession)

Recommended for ages 14+

Tweet about this show: #NTWmother

National Theatre Wales and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru in association with S4C

Creator & Director: Marc Rees

Dates: 27 June-11 July 2015
Venue: Royal Opera House Stores, Abercwmboi, Aberdare

Wales' two national theatre companies - National Theatre Wales and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru - team up for the very first time, with one of the country's leading artists, Marc Rees, and broadcaster S4C to create a visual and storytelling feast. Performed in English, Welsh and Spanish, (150) will bring to life some of the key moments in the story of the 150 Welsh men, women and children who settled in Patagonia in 1865, and the lives of their descendants today. This multi-platform production, combining live performance in Wales with a specially commissioned film from Patagonia, will be staged in the Royal Opera House stores near Aberdare - a vast building not normally open to the public, close to the homes of many of the original settlers. The specially commissioned film will be written and produced by Roger Williams and directed by Lee Haven Jones, and will be broadcast in full on S4C in July 2015.

Creator Marc Rees is an interdisciplinary creative with an established track record of delivering groundbreaking, provocative and risk-taking projects. Adain Avion was Rees’ most ambitious project to date, and was selected as Wales' flagship project for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and London Festival 2012. His Tir Sir Gâr, made in collaboration with writer Roger Williams for Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru was the most nominated production in the Theatre Critics of Wales Awards 2014, with five nominations. In 2014, Rees created a re-imagining the world of Under Milk Wood, Raw Material: Llareggub Revisited for NTW and BBC Wales that incorporated the whole of the township of Laugharne as part of the DT 100 Festival. He is also the creator and curator of LLAWN (Llandudno Arts Weekend), an annual festival that celebrates the North Wales seaside town's Victorian heritage.

Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru The Welsh-language national theatre of Wales – creating innovative main stage theatre, and ambitious productions in surprising locations and at the heart of communities throughout Wales and beyond. Shaping a national narrative that reflects the dynamic culture of Wales and that resonates with other nations and cultures throughout the world.

S4C is a Welsh language television channel offering programmes across a wide range of genres, including award-winning dramas and documentaries. Working in partnership with the creative industries in Wales, S4C gives coverage to a wide range of cultural events, such as theatre and music productions, as well as collaborating to produce original content for broadcast on the channel.

For more information, or to book tickets, go to:

Full listings information:

National Theatre Wales and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru in association with S4C
Dates: 27 June-11 July 2015 (except Sun)
Times: 7pm, plus 1pm matinee on 11 July
Venue: Royal Opera House Stores, Royal Opera House, Aberaman Industrial Estate, Aberaman, Aberdare CF44 6DA

Box Office:
By phone: 029 2063 6464
Ticket Prices: £10-£17.50

Tweet about this show: #150patagonia

National Theatre Wales in association with Ffwrnes
A theatrical staging of Christopher Logue's War Music
Directed by Mike Pearson & Mike Brookes

Dates: 21 September-3 October 2015
Venue: The Ffwrnes, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire

“In the beginning there was no Beginning,
And in the end, no End…”

Renowned theatre-makers Mike Pearson and Mike Brookes, celebrated for their recent, large-scale interpretations of Aeschylus’ The Persians and Shakespeare and Brecht’s Coriolan/us with NTW, will bring their trademark vision to this multimedia staging of Christopher Logue’s filmic poem, derived from Homer’s account of the last years of the Trojan War. The audience will go on a journey with a cast of Welsh actors, a troupe of teenage gods, a stage shaped around them, and vast cinematic landscapes. Each of the four episodes can be viewed individually, while bolder audience members can choose to see all four in one of two omnibus performances - either all day or overnight.  

Mike Brookes is an award-winning artist, director and designer. He co-founded the performance collective Pearson/Brookes with Mike Pearson in 1997. Since 2005, his collaborative art work with Spanish artist Rosa Casado has produced live art and gallery works across a range of media; their work together having been widely commissioned and presented across Europe, Asia, Australasia, South America, and USA. Other collaborators include Quarantine and Untitled Projects. In 2007, he was appointed Research Fellow within Aberystwyth University.

Mike Pearson trained as an archaeologist. He was a member of R.A.T. Theatre (1972–73) and an artistic director of Cardiff Laboratory Theatre (1973–80) and Brith Gof (1981–97). He currently makes performance as a solo artist; with Mike Brookes in Pearson/Brookes and for National Theatre Wales. Mike is author of Theatre/Archaeology (2001); In Comes I: Performance, Memory and Landscape (2006); Site-Specific Performance (2010); The Mickery Theater: An Imperfect Archaeology (2011); and Marking Time: Performance, Archaeology and the City (2013). He was Professor of Performance Studies, Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies, Aberystwyth University (1999-2014).

For more information, or to register to be notified when tickets go on sale, go to:

Tweet about this show: #NTWiliad


Dates: 16 December 2015-3 January 2016
Venue: SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff

An immersive, festive treat from the creative minds behind the genre-bending Praxis Makes Perfect: Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys, writer Tim Price and director Wils Wilson team up to create a show like no other - a theatre gig for audiences of all ages, inspired by the seminal album Candylion.

Gruff Rhys is known around the world for his work as a solo artist as well as singer and songwriter with Super Furry Animals and Neon Neon, and for his collaborations with Gorillaz, Mogwai, Dangermouse and Sparklehorse amongst others. The latest album by Neon Neon, Praxis Makes Perfect, based on the life of radical Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, was performed as an immersive gig, produced by National Theatre Wales. In 2014, Gruff released his groundbreaking multimedia project American Interior - book, app, film, album. American Interior is published by Penguin and was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2014 and shortlisted for The Gordon Burn Prize 2014.

Writer Tim Price’s theatre credits include: Teh Internet is Serious Business at the Royal Court, Protest Song at the National Theatre, I'm With the Band (Traverse theatre/Wales Millennium Centre tour), Praxis Makes Perfect (National Theatre Wales/Barbican tour), The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning (National Theatre Wales tour) Salt, Root and Roe (Donmar Warehouse) Demos (Traverse Theatre) For Once (Pentabus Theatre/Hampstead theatre tour). His television credits include: Switch, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Sold! (ITV) The Smoke (Sky) Eastenders, Holby City, Casualty, Doctors (BBC) Y Pris, Caerdydd (S4C).

Director Wils Wilson is a theatre maker and director who has created performances in an abandoned house, on a ferry, in a department store at night, in pubs, in and on cars and even sometimes in theatres. Her audiences have been invited to eat, dance, walk, sing, drink tea and do the conga - amongst other things. Previously for NTW she directed Praxis Makes Perfect (Best Director, Welsh Theatre Awards). For National Theatre of Scotland: HOME Shetland, Gobbo (winners of CATS Awards), The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart (which also won a Herald Angel), and Ignition. Her other recent work includes Scuttlers (Manchester Royal Exchange), ANON (Welsh National Opera), Gastronauts (Royal Court) and Manchester Lines (Manchester Library Theatre). Until 2007 Wils was co-Artistic Director of wilson+wilson, making site-specific work across the UK, where her work included HOUSE, Mapping the Edge, News from the Seventh Floor and Mulgrave.

For more information, or to register to be notified when tickets go on sale, go to:

Tweet about this show: #NTWcandylion

Written by Patrick Jones

Dates: Spring 2016
Venue: To be confirmed

A brand new, musical play by Tredegar-born poet and playwright Patrick Jones. A choir of men and women with dementia find themselves clashing, and bonding, over one of the defining stories of south Wales - the 1984 miners’ strike - while also struggling to keep the choir alive amidst all the challenges of today’s Britain. A moving and ultimately uplifting new work featuring covers of well-known songs by artists ranging from Tom Jones to the Sex Pistols, and a new, title track by Nicky Wire and James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers.

Writer Patrick Jones’ plays include Everything Must Go, Unprotected Sex, Revelation and Deliver Us From Evil. His books include The Guerilla Tapestry, Fuse and Darkness is Where the Stars Are. His CDs include Commemoration and Amnesia and Tongues for a Stammering Time. Patrick toured with Billy Bragg in 2009 for his 25th anniversary tour of The Miner's Strike, and wrote an updated version of Idris Davies' The Bells of Rhymney for Radio 4/Radio Wales’ The Sad Bells of Rhymney. He has been poet in residence at Velindre Hospital in Cardiff and was recently involved in poetry projects at Greenhill Manor Nursing Home (Specialist Care for Dementia patients) and Talygarn Mental Health Unit as well as working in Swansea, Usk and Parc Prisons. Patrick has also worked alongside Hafan Cymru, The Alzheimer's Society and St David’s Foundation Hospice Care.

For more information, or to register to be notified when tickets go on sale, go to:

Tweet about this show: #NTWbefore

Plus, five more projects…


National Theatre Wales has been asking Wales what the big questions for the future are - and how we should go about making changes - in a series of performance-debates around the country, which form the first part of the company’s Big Democracy Project. In March 2016, everyone involved so far will be invited to take over the Senedd building, heart of Welsh Government, to choose the biggest issue facing the nation - and to decide what kind of a theatre production NTW should make about it.

In the meantime, the south Wales BDP event will be held on Friday 13th March 2015, at Oasis Cardiff, and will ask why identity is important.

For more information on the Big Democracy Project, go to:


Building on its track record in digital innovation, NTW has been working with digital performance pioneers Blast Theory to develop a new theatre production for the smartphone generation: an app that mixes gaming and storytelling.

Karen is a life coach and she’s happy to help you work through a few things in your life. When you begin, she asks you some questions about your outlook on the world to get an understanding of you. As the story unfolds and she gets to know you, she gets more and more curious. She seems to know things about you that she shouldn’t. Where exactly is this going to end?

Co-commissioned by The Space and 539 Kickstarter backers. Karen has been developed with support from the Mixed Reality Lab at the University of Nottingham and in collaboration with Dr Kelly Page.

Those wishing to take part can just download the free Karen app from the iTunes store.
For more information about The Karen Project, go to:

Blast Theory makes interactive artworks that invite you to question your place in society. Renowned internationally as one of the most adventurous artists’ groups creating groundbreaking new forms of performance and interactive art that mixes audiences across the internet, live performance and digital broadcasting. Led by Matt Adams, Ju Row Farr and Nick Tandavanti, the group’s work explores the social and political aspects of technology. Drawing on popular culture and games, the work often blurs the boundaries between the real and the fictional. For more information about Blast Theory, go to:

10-11 April 2015
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff

National Theatre Wales in association with Theatr Iolo & Run Ragged

April 2015 sees the premier of the first full NTW production to grow out of our WalesLab programme for new theatre ideas: Transition.
Jem is 50 next year. Ella is 11. They are father and daughter. Ella is ballet mad and has just started going en pointe. Jem is a professional, contemporary dancer and doesn’t approve. They have always danced together on the kitchen rug. In Transition, they explore their shifting relationship through dance, conversation and film.

Jem Treays trained at The Laban Centre and Dartington College of Arts. He has danced with NDCWales, NTW, MotionHouse, TaikaBox and Charlotte Vincent and as principal dancer for ENO and WNO. From 1997 to 2011, he worked as a senior lecturer at RWCM&D. Jem works extensively as a freelance choreographer and movement director in dance, theatre and opera for companies including NTW (The Village Social), GaggleBabble (The Bloody Ballad) and Theatr Iolo (Adventures in the Skin Trade). In 2012, he choreographed Paul Bunyan, which was shortlisted for a Sky Arts South Bank Award (Best Opera). For the last 15 years he has been making experimental independent work in collaboration with director Paula Crutchlow; works include Walkie Talkie, Is This It? and Transducer. In 2007, he was a recipient of a Creative Wales Award. In 2011, he founded Run Ragged Productions which has toured dance theatre works Out of the Box and The First Time Machine to multi-generational audiences around Wales.

For more information, go to:


National Theatre Wales makes its home in the many communities where it rehearses and produces its work. In April 2016, working with the new Pontio Arts Centre, NTW will be spending a month in Bangor, Gwynedd, exploring the stories, dreams and issues of the city, working with local artists and communities, and bringing some of NTW’s signature theatre techniques to this unique area of Wales.


PeerGrouP are a Dutch theatre company who live and work alongside the farmers of north Netherlands. With NTW, they’ve been visiting the town of Rhayader, in the heart of Powys, for the past three years, preparing a new production. Working with the shopkeepers of the town and a range of Welsh and Dutch artists, they will create The Shops – a transformation of the life of the town’s butcher’s shop, post office, laundrette, grocer’s, electrical supplies store, and dozens of other shops into a fully immersive theatrical experience.

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