National Theatre Wales announces its 2018 Season

  • Kully Thiarai announces her first full season as the company’s Artistic Director
  • It includes collaborations with female artists from across the south Asian diaspora, Migrations, Quarantine, Junoon, Oily Cart, Gruff Rhys and Elis James
  • Multi-artform work including new writing, contemporary dance, music, comedy, sensory theatre and visual art
  • Performances in hospitals, schools and theatres, on a boat, underwater and at locations across Wales
  • The company also welcomes its first ever Associate Artists; theatre makers Mike Pearson & Mike Brookes, digital installation artist Shanaz Gulzar and television drama executive producer Bethan Jones
KullyThiarai

Kully Thiarai

National Theatre Wales today (Thursday 23 November 2017) announced its 2018 season of productions, including a month-long festival to celebrate the 70th birthday of the NHS, two productions reflecting on the migrant experience in and beyond Wales, the first two productions in a three-year cycle of experimental works, and a work-in-progress.

Making the season announcement, Kully Thiarai, National Theatre Wales’ Artistic Director, said: “Our 2018 season is all about People and Places. We’re inviting audiences to join us in locations across Wales and take a moment to walk in others’ shoes, be they south Asian women or migrants from all over the world, NHS staff or patients past and present.

“These productions will be experimental, political, diverse and provocative. All of them will explore the human condition, what effect places have on our identities, and our impressions of others’ identities. Join us next year for this exciting new season of work, and see Wales, the world and its people through fresh eyes.”

National Theatre Wales present
THE STORM CYCLE
Created by Mike Pearson & Mike Brookes
2018-2020
Locations across Wales

Theatre-makers Mike Pearson & Mike Brookes, who have created some of National Theatre Wales’ most critically-acclaimed work to date, will join the company as Associate Artists and begin an extraordinary, three-year collaboration with NTW in 2018.

The Storm Cycle will be a series of six productions conceived, designed and directed by Pearson & Brookes. These multimedia works will be performed at different locations across Wales, at a variety of scales and sizes, and will explore two key themes; truth and testimony. They will culminate in 2020 with the creation of a major, new, large-scale production for NTW’s 10th anniversary programme.

There is a storm coming…
We live in tempestuous times: an era of climatic and environmental uncertainty and of 
social and political upheaval. Perhaps it was always so.
But what new forms can theatre develop and adopt: to engage with and to reflect the temper of our times?
An urgent theatre: fit for purpose, addressing and expressing our present realities
Of living in the eye of the storm

The Storm Cycle will build on the approaches and techniques that Pearson & Brookes have brought to their trilogy of groundbreaking NTW productions, The Persians (2010), Coriolan/us (2012) and Iliad (2015), while also drawing on their own histories and experiences as theatre-makers in Wales over the past 40 years.

The works will draw on dramatic, literary, mythological, cinematic and artistic sources; historical and contemporary, local and international, fictional and documentary. They will include original texts, specially-created soundtracks, innovative scenic designs and novel physical activities.

Tickets for the first two productions in the cycle are on sale from today.

STORM.1: NOTHING REMAINS THE SAME will be a poetic yet cinematic reimagining of the first two books of Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

STORM.2: THINGS COME APART will be a vivid evocation of the Cardiff riots of June 1919 – as reported in the local press (‘Wild Scenes at Cardiff’, South Wales Echo, Thursday 12 June 1919).

Mike Pearson was a member of Transitions (1971-72) and R.A.T. Theatre (1972–73), and an artistic director of Cardiff Laboratory Theatre (1973–80) and Brith Gof (1981–97). He currently makes performance as a solo artist, with artist Mike Brookes as Pearson/Brookes (1997–present), and with senior performers’ group Good News From The Future. For NTW, he co-directed The Persians (2010), Coriolan/us (2012) and Iliad (2015). He is author ofTheatre/Archaeology (2001); In Comes I: Performance, Memory and Landscape (2006); Site-specific Performance (2010); MIckery Theater: an imperfect archaeology (2011); and Marking Time: performance, archaeology and the city (2013). He is Emeritus Professor of Performance Studies, Aberystwyth University.

Mike Brookes is an award-winning artist, director and designer, whose work has always bridged media. He co-founded the performance collective Pearson/Brookes in 1997, focusing on intermedial and located performance work, most recently co-creating a series of acclaimed large-scale works in collaboration with NTW. Over the past decade, his work has centred on the production of context-specific and interventional public art works within his long-term collaboration with artist Rosa Casado; their work together having been widely commissioned and presented across Europe, Asia, Australasia, South America, and the USA.

Listings Information

STORM.1: NOTHING REMAINS THE SAME
Dates: 15-17 February 2018
Time: 8pm
Location: Pafiliwn Bont, Pontrhydfendigaid, Ceredigion
Tickets: £10, £7.50 conc and £5 for preview (15 February)

STORM.2: THINGS COME APART 
Dates: 21-24 March 2018
Time: 8pm (plus 3pm matinee on 24 March)
Location: The Tabernacl Church, Cardiff city centre
Tickets: £10, £7.50 conc and £5 for preview (21 March)

Box Office
Online:
nationaltheatrewales.org/storm1
nationaltheatrewales.org/storm2
By phone: 029 2037 1689

 

National Theatre Wales with Junoon present
SISTERS
Created by Kully Thiarai, Sameera Iyengar and other female artists from the South Asian diaspora
Date: 20 April 2018
Time: 8pm
Weston Studio, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Sisters is a conversation across continents about the richness, complexity and diversity of being a south Asian woman today. Stories recalled and half-remembered, embedded in objects, left behind on trains and in airport lounges. Journeys and conversations between women in India and Wales.

Sisters is us at our best, our worst, our strongest, our weakest. Unadorned and visible, we just are.

This all-female work-in-progress by leading British-Asian and Indian artists aims to hold a mirror up to life as a south Asian woman today, wherever she lives; the echoes and the contradictions, the (in)visibility and the comradeship, all told with playfulness, honesty and humour.

Sisters is part of India Wales, a major season of artistic collaboration between the two countries to mark the UK-India Year of Culture, and is supported by British Council Wales, the Arts Council of Wales and Wales Arts International.

Director Kully Thiarai has worked in the performing arts for many years as a theatre maker, Artistic Director and arts consultant. Her early career was largely in new writing with national touring companies like Red Ladder Theatre Company and Major Road, both based in Yorkshire. She has since led a number of organisations and companies including as Artistic Director of Contact Theatre, Manchester, Leicester Haymarket Theatre, Theatre Writing Partnership and Red Ladder Theatre Company; commissioning, producing and directing work nationally and internationally. Kully has been Artistic Director and CEO of National Theatre Wales since May 2016.

Sameera Iyengar is co-founder of Junoon, an organisation that focuses on creating access to theatre and the arts. She is also currently Course Director of SMART (Strategic Management in the Art of Theatre), a capacity-building course designed specifically for theatre-makers in India, offered under the aegis of the India Theatre Forum (ITF). As a core member of the ITF till 2014, Sameera was involved in diverse efforts to strengthen the theatre environment in India. Previous to Junoon, as Director of Projects at Prithvi Theatre, Sameera was involved with running the Prithvi Theatre Festivals and Summertime programme of shows and workshops for children. She has co-edited Our Stage: The Pleasures and Perils of Theatre Practice in India Today (Tulika 2009). Her PhD thesis was Performing Presence: feminism and theatre in India.

Junoon seek to weave arts experiences into the fabric of society. Working closely with artists from theatre and allied arts fields, they strive to build a world imbued with the spirit of the arts, a world where curiosity, imagination, empathy, resolve, courage and possibility are celebrated, nurtured and valued. Junoon is about creating access to theatre and the arts. Bringing the arts into the spaces of our daily lives. Bridging the gap between arts, artists and audiences. They do this through a variety of arts experiences and engagements carefully designed and curated. Engagements include free public programmes as well as programmes designed for specific audiences. Junoon work with one eye on the present and another on the future, with a strong focus on sharing the arts with children and young people as well. junoontheatre.org

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. They create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide. They work in more than 100 countries and their 8,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes. The British Council is a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publicly-funded grant-in-aid provides less than 20% of their turnover which last year was £864m. The rest of its revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All of its work is in pursuit of its charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally. wales.britishcouncil.org/en

Wales Arts International is the international team of Arts Council of Wales. It aims to increase the value of international cultural exchange to Wales by facilitating and supporting opportunities for international artistic collaboration and market development. Wales Arts International work closely with Welsh Government, British Council and other UK and international partners.

 

National Theatre Wales & Quarantine present
ENGLISH                                            
with Wales Millennium Centre
Part of Festival of Voice 2018
June 2018
Dance House, Cardiff

English is spoken by 1.75 billion people worldwide – that’s one in every four. Non-native speakers far outnumber first-language English speakers.

What happens to your sense of self when you move someplace where you don’t really know how to say who you are?

It’s said that by the end of this century, we’ll have lost more than half the world’s languages. In June, National Theatre Wales – which itself operates in a bilingual country – will collaborate with Quarantine to create a brand new production exploring language, migration and identity, how we learn to speak, and how we learn to listen.

Quarantine was formed in 1998 by artists Simon Banham, Richard Gregory and Renny O’Shea. Over the past 19 years, the Manchester-based company have developed an international reputation for their pioneering work in re-shaping who gets seen and heard in performance, and are widely recognised as one of the UK’s leading contemporary theatre companies. Working with a shifting constellation of collaborators, the company makes theatre and other public events that are characterised by their intimacy, fragility and a playful instinct to place everyday life side-by-side with moments of rare, crafted beauty. Quarantine work with virtuosic performers and with people who have never done anything like this before – electricians, philosophers, families, soldiers, chefs, children, florists, opera singers and countless others. qtine.com

Wales Millennium Centre is the nation’s home for the performing arts, situated at the heart of Cardiff Bay. One of the UK’s top cultural attractions, the Centre showcases Welsh creativity and talents, provides an extensive programme of world class entertainment, partners with international artistic companies, and offers creative learning opportunities that aim to increase accessibility to art and culture.

Created by Wales Millennium Centre, Festival of Voice Cardiff is an international arts festival that celebrates the voice in all its forms. Festival of Voice is about discovery through participation and immersion – about finding voices; bringing artists and audiences together to hear and be heard. The festival commissions new work and brings together unique collaborations in contemporary and classical music, opera, theatre, talks and visual art.

 

NHS70: A FESTIVAL
July 2018
Locations across Wales

On 5 July 1948, one of the biggest ideas ever to come out of Wales was born. The brainchild of Ebbw Vale MP and the UK’s Health Minister Aneurin “Nye” Bevan, the National Health Service was a revolutionary idea, formed along with the Welfare State during Britain’s austere post-war period, and under the principle of collective responsibility.

National Theatre Wales will celebrate the NHS’s 70th birthday in July 2018 with a month-long festival, inspired by some of the founders, staff and patients of this unique institution. This countrywide tribute to the NHS will feature seven multi-platform productions and events, made and performed live across the country and online:

  1. Theatre company Oily Cart will create Splish Splash; a multi-sensory, underwater, touring production for young people aged 3-19, performed in schools and hospitals. There will be three versions: one for those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, another for those on the autism spectrum, and a third for the deafblind. Their aim is to present a watery wonderland, a magical space where every sense is delighted. Hydro-therapy pools will be transformed by underwater lighting, clouds of bubbles drifting from below, curtains of perfumed spray, and live music played on floating pipes, with a sound that can be felt as much as heard.

Writer Tim Webb is Artistic Director of Oily Cart, and over the past 36 years has written and directed over eighty shows for the company. Webb co-founded the company with Musical Director Max Reinhardt, who has written and arranged the music in every production and performed in many shows. Reinhardt has co-composed the music for Splish Splash with percussionist George Panda, who will perform live on a specially constructed, marimba-like set of tuned pipes that float on the water. Designer Jens Cole will join the Oily Cart team again, having most recently worked with the company on their acclaimed show Kubla Khan.

Since 1981 Oily Cart has been taking its unique blend of theatre to children and young people in schools and venues across the UK. Challenging accepted definitions of theatre and audience, they create innovative, multi-sensory and highly interactive productions for the very young and for young people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. By transforming everyday environments into colourful, tactile ‘wonderlands’, Oily Cart invite audiences to join them in a world of the imagination. Using hydro-therapy pools and trampolines, aromatherapy, video projection, and puppetry together with a vast array of multi-sensory techniques, they create original and highly specialised theatre for young audiences.

  1. Love Letters to the NHS will be a series of five, new, solo shows written by five writers and performed in community spaces the length and breadth of Wales. These extended monologues will be intimate, heartfelt love letters to an institution with which all of us have had – or will have – a relationship, at some stage of our lives.
  2. National Theatre Wales will team up with arts organisation Migrations, French choreographer and dancer Julie Nioche and choreographers Filiz Sizanli and Mustafa Kaplan from Turkey, to create Touch, a site-specific, interactive and tactile dance piece about the therapeutic aspects of dance and the social place of the body. Made and performed in a medical facility in north Wales, the piece will be made with local, professional and non-professional dancers.

Founded in 2004, Migrations brings international contemporary arts to Wales while developing innovative collaborations, commissions and partnerships in Wales and further afield. To create unique experiences rooted in Wales, they collaborate with challenging and inventive artists, local communities and groups, national and international partners.

Migrations’ projects come in all sort of sizes and shapes, from large-scale site-specific commissions to dance film production with 100 amateur participants and interactive installations, variously using empty shops, rural landscapes and urban architecture as a stage.

Julie Nioche created A.I.M.E. in 2007 with a team of teacher-researchers, community leaders and active practitioners. The association’s mission statement speaks of its goal, the creation of choreographic works and the development of a citizen art, consisting of sharing and touring dance and the knowledge linked to this practice, notably somatic practices in the socio-medical sector. Seeing another way of considering a space for senses in our daily lives, she anchors her projects in different environments, so that they may take diverse forms and be seen by as many kinds of audiences as possible. She steps away from theatres in order to adapt to different spaces, producing many in situ projects.

Choreographers and co-founders of TALdans, Mustafa Kaplan and Filiz Sizanly explore what two, interacting, brave bodies could produce as mixed mechanisms within an unstructured logic, while making cautious physical discoveries. They have produced numerous works which have toured extensively internationally and share a special history with Migrations as they launched its very first season, and performed again in a site-specific performance for the landscape with Simon Whitehead in 2007.

  1. Gruff Rhys will write, record and release a new song paying tribute to the NHS on its 70th birthday. Keep an eye on NTW’s website for more information about where and when to hear it first.

Gruff Rhys is known around the world for his work as a solo artist as well as a singer and songwriter with Super Furry Animals and Neon Neon, and for his collaborations with Gorillaz, Mogwai, Dangermouse and Sparklehorse amongst others. The latest album by Neon Neon, Praxis Makes Perfect, based on the life of radical Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, was performed as an immersive gig, produced by National Theatre Wales and toured in 2013. In 2014, Gruff released his groundbreaking multimedia project American Interior – book, app, film and album. American Interior is published by Penguin and was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2014 and shortlisted for The Gordon Burn Prize 2014. That same year, he wrote the soundtrack of Andy Goddard’s film Set Fire to the Stars. More recently. Gruff wrote music and lyrics for, and performed in, NTW’s The Insatiable, Inflatable Candylion, performed in Cardiff, Christmas 2015.

  1. Laughter is the Best Medicine will be a night of comedy, compèred by actor and comedian Elis James, at the Lyric Theatre in his hometown of Carmarthen.

Carmarthen-born Elis James has been performing professionally on the UK comedy circuit for over a decade. As well as a seasoned stand up, Elis currently can be seen alongside Josh Widdicombe in hit BBC sitcom Josh. He’s also recently starred in his own series on BBC2 with Miles Jupp (Jupp and James) plus numerous appearances on Mock the Week8 Out of 10 Cats and Dave’s One Night Stand. Elis is also the co-host of the Elis James and John Robins Show on Saturday afternoons on Radio X, and presented Elis in Euroland for BBC Radio Wales in 2016.

  1. Following National Theatre Wales’ 2017 listening project, in which they gathered stories about people’s experiences with the NHS in Wales, one of the seven events will be a participative, live event reflecting the breadth of experiences and stories told from across Wales. This event will incorporate digital storytelling, sound and music, and celebrate the human stories that put the heart into our National Health Service. It’s not too late to send in your stories about your experiences (as a patient, relative or staff member) of the NHS in Wales. Get in touch…
  2. And finally, NTW will commission a visual artist to make a brand new work inspired by the volume of data generated by NHS Wales. This work could sit in a museum, online, a found space, a hospital site or somewhere we have yet to imagine. More information about this opportunity can be found at www.nationaltheatrewales.org/nhs70-open-call-artists.

 

National Theatre Wales present
THE TIDE WHISPERER
Written by Louise Wallwein
Directed by Kully Thiarai
Designed by Camilla Clark
September 2018
Tenby, Pembrokeshire

An immersive experience written by poet and playwright Louise Wallwein, The Tide Whisperer will tackle the global phenomenon of displacement and mass movement. Record numbers are on the move all over the world. What is it like to leave your home, and to live with the uncertainty of ever finding another?

The Tide Whisperer is full of stories, forever a nomad, having travelled the oceans and been carried by the tide to fresh new shores.

On the shores of Tenby, the audience gathers. The tide is turning fast and a storm is coming. The future feels uncertain – humanity is on the move and seeking refuge. Will we be met by kindness or rejection; offered sanctuary or forced to survive the perilous, treacherous sea?

The Tide Whisperer, in which audiences will take to the sea to explore the coast of Pembrokeshire by boat, will be made with a leading Welsh creative team including award-winning composer John Hardy, sound designer Mike Beer and theatre designer Camilla Clark, who grew up in the area.

A renowned and award-winning poet, playwright and performer from Manchester, Louise Wallwein has made a name for herself as an explosive artist that detonates her audiences’ imaginations. Louise was brought up in 13 different children’s homes and wrote her first play at the age of 17. Her career took off in 1998 when she performed an award-winning one-woman show on the wing of a World War II Shackleton reconnaissance aircraft, and her various experiences as a cleaner, club promoter and dancer at the Hacienda and activist for organisations such as Anti-Clause 28 and Viraj Mendis’ defence campaign have undoubtedly shaped her. Three radio plays have been broadcast by the BBC. Theatre includes Sydney Opera House, Royal Exchange, Contact Manchester and HOME mcr. She has written several outdoor spectacular shows for Walk The Plank. Glue, her acclaimed one-woman show is currently on tour was broadcast this year, when Louise was a BBC Contains Strong Language resident poet in Hull 17. Glue The Extended Remix published by Smith Doorstop is Louise’s first volume of poetry and is now on sale.

 

As well as Mike Pearson & Mike Brookes, television drama executive producer Bethan Jones and digital installation artist, stage designer and producer Shanaz Gulzar will become Associate Artists for National Theatre Wales. Bethan will be helping to develop new writing projects and broadcast opportunities, whileShanaz will focus on digital projects.

After training at RWCM&D, Bethan Jones worked as an actor in theatre and television, eventually turning to theatre directing. As Artistic Director first of Dalier Sylw, which evolved into Script Cymru, she developed and directed numerous productions and collaborated with Theatr Clwyd, Paines Plough, the Traverse Theatre and Soho Theatre. Theatre directing led to directing television drama for BBC Wales and S4C, and Bethan joined BBC Wales in 2002 as Producer in charge of local drama output. From 2005, as Executive Producer at BBC Wales Drama Department, Bethan worked on a number of award-winning television dramas including Merlin, Sherlock, A Poet in New York, The Long Walk to Finchley, Room at The Top, Hamlet, War and Peace and most recentlyAberfan: The Green Hollow. Bethan left BBC Wales in May 2017 and joined CUBA Pictures, where she is developing new network drama.

Shanaz Gulzar is best known for creating work across disciplines to make innovative and challenging interventions. She works as a digital installation artist and stage designer also working as producer for specialist projects. Her work explores interactions between new technologies, film, theatre, place and identity. She has a clear and distinct artistic voice with a vision for producing ambitious, contemporary art that is accessible to both arts and non-arts audiences. Recent work includes Made in India (Tamasha Theatre), Mother Tongues from Farther Lands (at Alchemy Festival, The Southbank), Calderland (509 Arts Outdoor site specific Community Opera at The Piece Hall, Halifax) and HOME1947 with double Oscar-winning filmmaker Sharmeen ObaId Chinoy forManchester International Festival.