Theatre in Wales

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McGrath launched the non-building-based National Theatre Wales in November 2009, since when the company has staged productions all over Wales, the UK, internationally and online over four seasons. Highlights have included Michael Sheen’s The Passion, staged in Port Talbot, the critically-acclaimed Coriolan/us performed in an aircraft hangar for the London 2012 Festival, and McGrath’s own pioneering staging of The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning, which was performed across Wales and live-streamed on an interactive website in April 2012.

The company has garnered an international reputation for making large-scale site-specific work, for digital innovation (including its online community), for weaving tangible community engagement into its productions, collaborating with international companies including Berlin’s Rimini Protokoll and Tokyo’s New National Theatre and reinforcing Welsh artists including Owen Sheers and Ed Thomas’ place on the global stage.

John has directed many of NTW’s productions, including its first, A Good Night Out in the Valleys, Love Steals Us From Loneliness, In Water I'm Weightless, and The Opportunity of Efficiency (produced by the New National Theatre, Tokyo),

Most recently, he has directed Mother Courage and her Children, performed in a Labour Club in Merthyr Tydfil by an all-female cast. It is the first production in NTW’s fifth season, which will include a new version of the Iliad, directed by Mike Pearson & Mike Brookes and The Insatiable, Inflatable Candylion, made by Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys, Wils Wilson and Tim Price, and staged at Christmas 2015.

Before his appointment at National Theatre Wales, John had been 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). 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. In 2015, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Open University.

John McGrath said: “My time at National Theatre Wales has been a joyful and deeply rewarding experience. The appetite in Wales for theatrical innovation, for international collaboration and for the development of a vibrant, fresh arts scene has been wonderful to encounter. I know that National Theatre Wales faces a very exciting future, with many fantastic artists and companies keen to collaborate with the company. I’ve had amazing support from the NTW board, from the Arts Council of Wales, and from NTW’s extraordinary staff team, and I know that the company is in very good hands as it looks ahead.”

The Chair of National Theatre Wales’ board, Phil George, said: “John has given inspired, generous and utterly committed leadership to National Theatre Wales. He has built a theatre company rooted in the communities of Wales which has European stature and which has a truly exciting future. He will now use his extraordinary gifts in leading a great international festival, a testimony to his achievements in Wales.’’

The Chair of the Arts Council of Wales, Dai Smith, said: "When the Arts Council of Wales bravely undertook to create National Theatre Wales almost a decade ago the need was plain but, as many believed, the obstacles to success were against us. Yet now, in 2015 and beyond, we have in Wales a cultural institution rooted deep in our society and acclaimed worldwide for its imaginative practice and its artistic innovation.

“There are many reasons for this and many people to be thanked and praised, but as he steps down as its first Artistic Director, the name of John McGrath is pre-eminent. John gave everyone the confidence to be both what we are – a Welsh company with local purpose – and to release what we possess within us at our best; a vision and a reach that is truly global. He has led by the example of his own persona and his dazzling talent. He has nurtured a new generation of theatre practitioners in Wales and made site-specific work a conduit for new audience development. Our debt to him is profound and will never be forgotten by all of us who support the development of a common culture for the Welsh people."

National Theatre Wales will appoint a new Artistic Director & Chief Executive later this year.
National Theatre Wales  
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015back



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