Theatre in Wales

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Wales Millennium Centre, Caroline Sabine, National Museum, National Theatre Wales, Arts Council

Quarterly Critical Round-up

Events in Arts and Culture , Cardiff Spring 2022 , May 19, 2022
Quarterly Critical Round-up by Events in Arts and Culture WALES MILLENNIUM CENTRE presented a co-production with LUKE HEREFORD "Grandmother's Closet (and What I Found There...)" at the Weston Studio in late April.

It was billed as "An autobiographical musical adventure that promises mischief and mash-ups, dresses and divas, and a whole lot of heart."

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CAROLINE SABINE presented "In Pursuit Of Maud" at Insole Court in February. It went on to tour to the UCHELDRE CENTRE and the TORCH.

"Igor is a simple soul" read the feature in Buzz. "He lives in a castle with his mistress 'Mad' Scientist Maud, and together they do mad scientist things like generating electricity by rubbing two cats together or creating an octopus with the head of a vole. You know...normal stuff. But one day the pair attempt a brain swapping procedure between Maud and an albatross (she wanted to experience flying) and it goes horribly, horribly wrong. Maud's body escapes and heads for the hills and Igor is left alone with his beloved employer's brain floating helplessly in a jar...."


* * * *

Critical commentary on culture had a moment of sparkiness in this quarter that is not the norm.

DANIEL WILLIAMS watched the film "Save the Cinema" and saw it in a particular light. It belongs to the plucky-underdog-overcomes-all genre. On Radio Cymru's "the Review Show" he took objection:

"we are going to keep having these depictions of ourselves as comic, pleasant, not really a threat to anyone...a willingness to be servile."

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MARTIN SHIPTON wrote a feature 5th March: "Wales' national museums body riven by internal dispute."

"The relationship between president ROGER LEWIS and director DAVID ANDERSON is said to be "at rock bottom.” No meeting of the board of trustees has taken place since last September and communication takes place via email. Members of the senior management team contacted the Welsh Government and a review into their concerns is underway."

A spokesperson with no name is cited: “By agreement between the executive and the board of trustees, governance matters have been managed so that we meet our requirements as a public body."

The Auditor General for Wales Adrian Crompton is involved.


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GARY OWEN, with two decades of Welsh theatre behind him, is a voice to be listened to. His voice was pertinent in an interview with Chippy Lane. The core, reported here “Theatre in Wales: Comment 22nd December 2018” was:

“It is entirely normal for writers in Ireland and Scotland to write big plays that open on main stages that connect with a much wider audience. If we are going to truly connect and truly serve a purpose as public artists, in the sense of publicly funded artists, we need to take on subjects that are going to pull people in and we need to be gripping and thrilling and suspenseful and funny.”

An article appeared on the same topic except it was swiftly 404-ed- "oops!- that page cannot be found."


* * * *

GARY RAYMOND fired off a 1000 words on NATIONAL THEATRE WALES. As recorded the company was the last in Wales to perform as the era of restriction ended.

The article pertinently enquired on the tardiness and general inactivity:

"You could be forgiven for wondering what ever happened to National Theatre Wales?...You may, however, need me to tell you what NTW has been up to. In the last two years, National Theatre Wales has produced precious few theatrical productions (or what might pass for theatre).

"There was the underwhelming "Possible", Shôn Dale-Jones’s one man show that eventually ended up being a meandering monologue about how the original show was not cancelled when the pandemic hit.

"There was what has been referred to by every single person I have ever heard mention it as “that thing about bees or something”. Then there was Rakie Ayola reading from Leonora Britto’s short story collection, Dat’s Love. An audiobook, for want of a better label.

"There was a 20-minute film produced by Gavin Porter, Sea Empress 25, that was released to little (or no) fanfare; a kind of worthy, creative documentary about the 1996 Pembrokeshire oil spill. And there was the Live Stream of Chichester Theatre Festival’s production of Sarah Kane’s "Crave."

"It is a meagre output by anyone’s standards (but particularly by the standards of the same period of companies like Theatr Genedlaedethol Cymru, The Sherman, Theatr Clwyd, Wales Millennium Centre, Dirty Protest, Taking Flight, and others)."

"Houses like The Sherman in Cardiff and Theatr Clwyd in Mold are pinging at my inbox with press releases announcing casting for new shows, and indy companies across Wales equally are working harder than ever with the prospects of new tours of shows old and new. NTW have yet to announce a full programme,."

And he poses a question.

"Two artistic directors, two marketing departments, two production teams etc etc… Why does Wales not have a single national theatre?"

The company's near-complete digression from theatre is stated on its site:

“we're...building a newly-focused identity as change-makers.”

The HR function writes a recruitment language of its own: “Are you passionate about...starting conversations?” and “We’re always looking for passionate, tenacious souls.”

This declamatory language looks for “authenticity”, “courage” and ends “Discover more about what it’s like working for NTW in this blog from our Artistic Director LORNE CAMPBELL.”

404-ed again. ““Oops! That page can’t be found. It looks like nothing was found at this location.”

There is a bit of irony there.


* * * *

LLEUCU SIENCYN leaves Literature Wales to be Director of Arts Development at Arts Council of Wales. The public statements had difficulty in using any words that relate to the arts. It is the norm.

The Arts Council of Wales is lauded as a belief system, its purposes "health, climate emergency, widening engagement...the well-being of the nation.” As for the poor old public of Wales they do not get much of a look-in.

* * * *

Job vacancy notices are everywhere. In two years the working population of the UK has shrunk by 1,100,000 people. The Arts Council of Wales is no exception, having spent six months in not finding a permanent Chief Executive.

MICHAEL ELLIOT has come in on an interim basis. Promisingly he made a public statement that was not wholly of the house style robotic cut-and-paste. “Creativity, the arts, and a significant part in helping us all to navigate life’s challenges."

After that he too was nobbled by "well-being, future generations, sustainable development."

Publicly financed art is for the public, the people of Wales, now, here.

The role of interim Chief Executive includes the role of Accounting Officer for the Arts Council of Wales.


Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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