Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

100 Years of Aspiration and Actuality: Index & Guide

National Theatre: Comment

National Theatre of Wales , Culture of Wales , March 10, 2021
National Theatre: Comment by National Theatre of Wales The story of national theatre and Wales goes back 100 years. The newest episodes are revealing; they seem to say as much, if not more, about Wales as a political entity than as a cultural one. One certainly important moment was the only intervention of the Chair in the public sphere.

In line with the decay of public language of Wales it contained jargon and illiteracy. Plans were declared that went unfulfilled. “Prototype” was used metaphorically and made into a verb as in “the company will prototype new ideas.”

The aspirations to audience were modest. “An immersive theatre experience with over 300 participants will mark Wales’ Year of Discovery and explore notions of difference and otherness”. That means fewer people of Wales than a single night at Aberystwyth's Theatr y Werin. The demand by the group of writers to do theatre and theatre only goes unacknowledged and is ignored.

In a haughty tone he writes that “the company...will not hesitate to rebut factually inaccurate claims” followed by “ the company has staged 21 productions in just over two years.” This declaration lacks credibility and is not even endorsed by the company's own record.

The other revealing aspect is that this statement passes by without the slightest comment from anyone in Cardiff. Funder, media and Senedd oversight committee are not bothered.

The statement can be read at:

A guide and index to this sequence:

02 February 2023: Quality Standards & Compliance Waived by Arts Council

26 January 2023: "National Theatre Wales Show Has to Have Theatre In It": Ignored

31 December 2022: To Be ‘National’ is a Privilege, Not a Right”: Arts Council of Wales

“Not a production of the national theatre has been strong enough to be included in a best-of-year retrospective since 2016”.

10 February 2021 A Look at Corporate Culture

“Organisations are artifices, teleological, formed to benefit certain people, specific and nameable.”

26 October 2020: More reasons for Instability

"Florid language Sometimes the language was florid in its emptiness.”

20 October 2020: A Reason for the company's instability

“Vanity of language...”

22 September 2019 The Stage: Poor One-year Look-back at Playwright Protest

Alun Saunders: “A letter of response was soon penned by NTW which misconstrued and misrepresented our discussions and points of suggestion. The narrative then became unconstructive and rather hostile.”

01 July 2019: Another Two-Performance Production Without Any Critical Imprint

“They stitch together a load of local productions and call it national.” That was Michael Bogdanov..”

01 May 2019: National Theatre That Does Not Like Theatre Much Budget Diverted from Theatre

"Conversations between NTW and the signatories have apparently been moved behind closed doors...”

Non-theatre activities: “Interview with visual artist presenting new work in, prints, quilts and a radio play...”

28 April 2019 Radio 4 “Front Row”

“Its role in the theatre ecology is clear. Its presence is to reduce the production of theatre for audiences of Wales.”

26 April 2019: David Adams and the View of National Theatre from 1995

"Adams is sceptical about there being the writers, the directors, the punters even. Cardiff, he says, is a capital the size of the capitals of Slovakia or Albania. He is an enthusiast for the small...”

06 April 2019: Terrible Quality of Production

"The national theatre performed on three days in the first quarter of 2019. That is an increase on the last quarter of 2018, when it produced no theatre at all. £4000 a day of Arts Council cash is deployed to put on three performances. The three performances will have been all there is over a timespan of 221 days."

01 February 2019: The Arts Council of Wales, value-for-money assertion, and £500 subsidy per audience member

“It is apparent by now that the content of the letter of 18th September is set to be left unaddressed in the state-funded culture of Wales. The Stage wrote: “NTW currently receives £1.6 million per year from Arts Council of Wales. Figures supplied by the Arts Council show NTW attendance was a little over 3,000 in 2017/18, a significant decline on previous years."

15 January 2019: Refuting the 17th November2018 Endorsement

"The Board stood firm. The Arts Council sidestepped it and describing the critique as a debate... The writer did not declare whether he had been put up to it by the company. The consensus was that he had. Like the Chairman the writer adopts a lordly position. He feels no need to inform his readers of those parts he believes inaccurate.”

01 December 2018 Radio 4 Front Row on Scotland & Wales

"The national theatres of Scotland and Wales have nothing in common "

17 November 2018: Theatre lecturer in Sheffield Endorsement

“This assertion relies on an absence of knowledge on the part of the reader. It is false, the company here having nothing in common with its equivalent in Scotland."

25 September 2018: Playwrights of Wales Protest to Company Chair

"We feel it is time for a public discussion about the very purpose of the organisation. The direction of NTW, coupled with a lack of scrutiny, transparency and openness has led to a worrying internal culture which, despite the organisation’s name, seems to take pride in ridding itself of a theatrical identity and even its nationality.”

25 June 2018: The Stage- “For National Theatre Wales to be seemingly unaware of the nation it represents is unforgivable”

08 April 2018: Company's Preference for London Critics over Writers of Wales

"The London critics do not look to the audience make-up, the near-certain paucity of people from the county...The playing for praise from visitors from England, and the validation it brings, is not a feature of Scotland's national theatre.”

01 April 2018: On Productions with Two Performances in Inaccessible Locations

"...the locals have been very welcoming and helpful with the project.”

28 December 2017: Divergence Again Between London and Welsh Critics

"The production was disorderly, the directors chopping and changing. It was humourless and structureless. It has no women and the steel men were reported as being “terribly clean”. It was without any dialectic “audience just talked at.”

21 May 2017: Kirsty Sedgman: Book on National Theatre Wales

"Up on Epynt Sedgman finds an audience member vocal on the topic of relevance “relevant is an entirely bogus notion in relation to theatre. Just do good stuff.”

18 October 2016 Roald Dahl weekend in Cardiff city centre

"Although there is a little micro-blogging it has been remarkable in leaving hardly any critical imprint. No broadsheets came and even the perky Wales Arts Review kept silent."

28 December 2015: Summary of Five Years, Including “Company Has Vulnerabilities”

"The company has vulnerabilities. Corporate cultures reveal themselves in how they talk about themselves. Linguistically the company has separated itself from theatre, preferring the term “project” over “production.” It has not achieved a show that is national in the sense that the nation has had common experience of it."

08 September 2015: The First Five Years

"The challenge is double. The first is that the very notion of what constitutes national theatre is a hazy one. The second is the nature of theatre itself; knock out the Christmas shows and pantomime and it’s a minority activity. From a three million population theatre visitors of any regularity might possibly hit a half percent proportion. But those who do participate care and care a lot."

05 February 2015 Sheep-farmer/ writer on National Theatre in Snowdonia

“The work was superficial in its engagement with the farm and the four years research was not very apparent...”

"The site is quite tight-lipped about longer-term aims...”

27 April 2011: A Look-back at the Year of Thirteen

"Sifting through the words engendered by National Theatre of Wales’ productions: “masterly”, “perfectly judged”, “vibrancy of language”, “significant”, “novel and unexpected”, “meticulousness”, “sublime Dionysiac theatricality”, “dazzling production”, “quirky, original, fresh and distinctive”, “spirit and good humour”, “joyful, enthralling and unexpected”, “sheer grace and delicacy”, “radiates joy”, “moments of wonder”, “beauty”.

03 May 2010 John McGrath “A Good Night Out”

“Theatre is the place where the life of a society is shown in public to that society...where that society's assumptions are exhibited and tested, its values are scrutinised, its myths are validated, and its traumas become emblems of its reality...”

18 December 2009 Timeline of 2009- First Season Launch

20 December 2008 Timeline of 2008- Board, Artistic Director, Producer announcements

15 December 2007 Timeline of 2007- foundation and appointment of Chair

06 October 2007 Symposium: “Who Needs a National Theatre?”

“...He viewed a Welsh National Theatre- capital letters- with some apprehension. Cue forward eleven years and on page thirty-five of “One Wales”, the joint agreement of 27th June from the Labour and Plaid Cymru Groups in the Assembly, the pledge is made “We will establish a National English-language Theatre.”

05 October 2007 Symposium: “Who Needs a National Theatre?”

"The very term “national” raised unrealistic expectations for an embryonic company requiring time to mature. If Theatr Clywd Cymru had a view over the Taff rather than the Clwydian Hills would this debate even be taking place?...”

09 December 1999: Michael Bogdanov & Phil Clark Paper for a National Theatre

" the model that best meets the criteria is a federal one, loosely based on the German system. There would not be one specific centre...”

08 December 1999: Michael Bogdanov & Phil Clark Paper for a National Theatre

"In 1994 we launched a federal vision of a National Theatre for Wales...It was produced in the belief that a National Assembly was just around the corner. It was a vision for the new millennium."

01 April 1995: Anne-Marie Taylor on Europe's theatre and the campaign for a national theatre of Wales

"The Welsh national theatre campaign, quiet of late, has been re- kindled...”

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

back to the list of reviews

This review has been read 1269 times

There are 60 other reviews of productions with this title in our database:


Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © keith morris / red snapper web designs /