Theatre in Wales

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From the Time Before

The Best of Touring Theatre

Companies Present and Past , Theatre Landscape of Wales , September 23, 2021
The Best of Touring Theatre by Companies Present and Past The September equinox is a day to remember, and a day to savour, theatre-of-Wales as it once was. There was a pleasure to be had in its seasonality. In the west, in mid-January, the set of the Wardens would be struck and late in the month the first touring production would arrive. The selection, producer Alan Hewson and programmer Gill Ogden at work, was invariably eclectic. By May the offerings would begin to thin. Eyes turned to Edinburgh and pre-Fringe try-outs at Chapter.

In August the year's new members of the National Youth Theatre of Wales would be seen around Aberystwyth in their time of rehearsal. So many names of lustre began to learn their art there. At a peak era, under the leadership of Greg Cullen, the company would unveil productions on a grand scale. The roll-out of the week's tour hit three locations: Mold, Aberystwyth and a Friday-Saturday ending in Cardiff.

That was the thing with the tours. They bonded north and south, market town and city, Valleys and Fro. And not always in a small way. Michael Bogdanov and Mal Pope packed their venues out with “Amazing Grace”. Jack Llewellyn hit on a formula, so simple, that filled Rhyl to Cardiff's New Theatre. He melded rugby-mania to bitter-sweet comedy. And like Frank Vickery he did it without subsidy. But there is only so long a young producer can bear personal risk.

Theatre that moves and performs across Wales matters and has a mirror in the reader response on this site. To the right of the reviews page Frapetsus is the most-read company and Wales Theatre Company, Sgript Cymru, Fluellen also feature highly.

To look now at the list of touring shows is a bitter-sweet memory. So many companies have gone, in some instances their people too. National Dance Company Wales, when it was in the hands of its founders, would perform the last weekend of January in Aberystwyth. The companies that have gone are not just Frapetsus and Wales Theatre Company; no more Theatr Powys or Mappa Mundi or Earthfall or Theatr Pena or Shock 'n' Awe or Waking Exploits.

Some live on, indomitably. Lighthouse and Theatr Iolo were among the first be out in 2021 when the prohibitions eased. Theatr Genedlaethol was the first to do a Wales-north-to-south tour with “Gwlad yr Asyn”, Wales Millennium Centre mid-August, then Theatr Clwyd, Plas Glyn y Weddw, Pontio, Parc Pen-bre, Llanelli and Aberystwyth.

A last point to the record below. Among them are shows that went to London, the USA, Europe, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand. Forget the vanity that swirls around the little world of the Cardiff power nexus; these were the shows, or some of them, that made the theatre culture and took it to the world.

A guide to the reviews below:

December 15th 2019 Lighthouse Theatre “It's a Wonderful Life”

28 November 2019 Carys Eleri & Wales Millennium Centre- “Lovecraft (Not the Sex Shop in Cardiff)”

28 October 2019 Theatr na nÓg & Swansea Grand Theatre “Eye of the Storm”

26 March 2019 The Torch “Grav”

23 November 2018 Leeway Productions “The Last Five Years”

16 February 2018 Miles Productions “Clown in the Moon”

16 December 2017 Seiriol Davies & Aine Flanagan Productions “How to Win Against History”

23 October 2017 Lucid Theatre “Little Wolf”

15 October 2017 Fluellen Theatre Company “Granton Street”,

01 February 2017 Bristol Old Vic “Pink Mist”

14 October 2016 October Sixty Six Productions “The Revlon Girl”

22 May 2015 Buddug James Jones Collective “Hiraeth”

31 October 2014 Buddug James Jones Collective “Hiraeth”

21 October 2014 Thear Iolo “Adventures in the Skin Trade”

03 June 2014 Cwmni'r Frân Wen “Gwyn”

10 August 2013 Chloe Loftus Dance “The Day We Realised the World was an Oyster”

23 February 2013 Living Pictures “Sexual Perversity in Chicago”

19 October 2012 Omidaze “Things Beginning with M”

26 July 2012 Bravo 22 Company “the Two Worlds of Charlie F”

19 April 2012 Shock 'n' Awe “Muscle”

18 November, 2011 D J Britton & Taliesin “The Wizard, the Goat and the Man Who Won the War”

07 September 2011 Mess Up the Mess “Click”

06 May 2011 Waking Exploits “Serious Money”

27 February 2011 Theatr Powys “The Man Who Walked Through Walls”

11 September 2010 Jill Greenhalgh “The Threat of Silence”

Picture: “Eye of the Storm”

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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