Theatre in Wales

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NINE GREAT WELSH ACTRESSES TO PERFORM IN NATIONAL THEATRE WALES’ MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN     

NINE GREAT WELSH ACTRESSES TO PERFORM IN NATIONAL THEATRE WALES’ MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN The cast has been confirmed for the first production in National Theatre Wales’ fifth season – an anarchic, all-female, new version of Bertolt Brecht’s 1939 anti-war play, Mother Courage and Her Children, performed in and around the Merthyr Labour Club in May 2015.

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 for this new production, mixing Brecht’s world with the Saturday-night spirit of Merthyr.

“According to the bigwigs, this war’s being fought in the name of God and all things lovely . But I think that’s bollocks. Every body in this war is out for what they can get, including a small businesswoman like me. I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

Performed by a cast of nine Welsh actresses in the gutsy English of the south Wales valleys, supported by a chorus of women from Merthyr, and in the context of our own unending wars, this will be a 21st Century version of what is often described as a 20th Century classic.

The cast includes: Donna Edwards, Sara McGaughey, Gaynor Morgan-Rees, Rhian Morgan as Mother Courage herself, Sharon Morgan, Cathy Owen, Nicola Reynolds, Ri Richards and Eiry Thomas.

Artistic director John McGrath said: “Every director has a list of plays that they want to direct some day, and Mother Courage has long been up at the top of my list. The spirit of south Wales, particularly Merthyr Tydfil, feels very close to the questions of the play. To what lengths are we willing to go in order to survive? What kind of cunning and know-how might carry us through the worst of times? Brecht always encourages us to see why people behave in the way they do, and the questions he raises in this play are every bit as relevant today as they were when he sat down to write it in 1939.”

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.
 
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