May 1st and it’s International Workers’ Day. It seemed an appropriate time to take a moment to reflect on my first year at National Theatre Wales and to announce some our future projects.
This time last year we were starting rehearsals for Before I Leave; an emotional rollercoaster of a play written by the talented Patrick Jones and inspired by the Cwm Taf Choir, made up of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and their carers. The show was a joyous, uplifting experience and marked the beginning of my tenure as Artistic Director.
The year has proved to be hugely busy for the company and of course also included our biggest production ever: Roald Dahl’s City of The Unexpected; a collaboration with Wales Millennium Centre that saw Cardiff transformed for the weekend to mark Dahl’s centenary. You can see more about that here
At the heart of all this work is our connection and conversation with the people of Wales and our forthcoming projects We’re Still Here and NHS70 continue this tradition.
Six years ago, NTW created The Passion with the people of Port Talbot. It was an extraordinary event that remains in the imagination of all those who took part and were witness to this production. In fact, Lyn Gardner recently said “It was, and is likely to remain, one of the great theatre events of this century.” Sadly, we lost the very talented Bill Mitchell who, along with Michael Sheen, co-directed this wonderful production, to cancer this Easter. Bill will be very much missed but his legacy of memorable and imaginative theatremaking will continue through the work of WildWorks, which he founded in 2005.
We too will continue to make important work with and for our communities and our next production takes us back to Port Talbot.
We’re Still Here focuses on one of the biggest stories in Wales recent history – the steelworks.
One the last remaining bastions of heavy industry, the Port Talbot steelworks is a story still being made. Working with steelworkers, the unions and the community that relies so heavily on this important industry, We’re Still Here explores these contemporary issues and the fight to save an industry that is under extreme pressure from global forces.
Written by the wonderful Rachel Trezise and directed by the talented duo Rhiannon White and Evie Manning of Common Wealth, you can be assured that this will be a powerful, vital and emotionally-charged production. Tickets are on sale and I look forward to welcoming you to a warehouse in Port Talbot in September!
Meanwhile, we are also launching our project NHS70 – a celebration of the birth of the National Health Service in 1948 which will see us create seven new works across Wales and online in 2018. The NHS was a big idea bought to fruition by Ebbw Vale MP and UK’s Health Minister Aneurin Bevan. He was inspired by the model used by the Miners’ Medical Aid Society in Tredegar. It remains one of our greatest achievements and seven decades on continues to be the benchmark for health care globally.
Digital storyteller Lisa Heledd Jones and director Marcus Romer are working with us to collect a diverse range of stories from the public about how the NHS has affected their lives. Whether a patient or a doctor, a nurse or a porter, a relative or a scientist, a surgeon or a cleaner we’d love to hear from you. We will use those stories as inspiration for the seven artistic works, collectively forming a love letter to the NHS from the country of its birth. So get in touch:
We can’t wait to hear from you, and to see you in Port Talbot!
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