So, we have 30 potential projects for our launch year's Theatre Map of Wales. All sorts of collaborations with all sorts of artists and companies have been discussed, and some have even entered the first stages of development. But there are no definite decisions yet. While it would be unfair on the artists involved to start some sort of online vote, it would be great to hear people's opinions on the range of work they would like to see: gritty realism? dance theatre? vaudeville? Welsh classics rediscovered? And where should the work take place? Do you have strong opinions about where in Wales we should put shows on? A particular location? Or a part of the country that shouldn't get missed out this time?

We will be staging twelve shows in twelve months - one a month every month; each in a different location, and each a different kind of theatre. Your opinions on what kind of work you would like to see and where will help us come to our decisions. Oh, and in case you are worried about the 18 project we can't do - don't worry, some of them will be ready for the following year!

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Thanks Chris. I think there are a lot of challenges around diversity that we will need to address in the coming years. As you indicate though, ultimately diversity enriches the work and everyone's experience of it, so it is well worth us trying to meet the challenge.
Thanks Michael. I do like that factories idea. You are right that getting audiences to some of the more interesting locations may be a bit of a challenge - but hopefully one that is worth spending time on. I don't think we will be doing live links in cinemas - we hope to persuade people that the events are worth making a journey for, but we will put a lot of stuff online - rehearsal footage, images, diaries etc. We are also hoping to commission a couple of artists to follow the journey of the year - see all the shows and respond to them in a way that can be widely shared.
There was a feature on the blog about more people going to shows if they know someone in it. I think it goes a bit deeper than that. People, especially in rural areas of Wales like to feel they have some kind of ownership over work being produced; as well as seeing mates/family performing. The Living Willow Theatre (for which I am administrator) often plays to full houses and not only community but professional touring productions; something quite unusual in mid-Wales. The planting of the theatre, maintainance, future projects are led by the community and volunteer involvement is vital to us. There is a friendly homely feeling to the place; people like to come for that reason as much as anything.

For these reasons I think it especially important that the productions in these rural areas incorporate local people in some way. I also think it is important to know people may not come, but it's important that doesn't stop you coming back. You will build up a friendship with communities over time, especially if the work is good and holds some resonance with them.
Thanks Kama. This all sounds like really good sense. One of the things we will definitely do with each of the shows next year is spend time with local communities in advance of the shows, so that there is a sense of ownership developing before the performances happen.
Hi John,

I spoke up quite a lot in the Brand meeting earlier this year on certain things I would be excited that the NTW could be doing...

Obviously, I am a huge fan and keen to promote any new-writing!
Giving a new, unseen script a chance to make it would be something that I would love to see and relish.

The first year of any new company will no doubt have to be careful in their choices, but, taking a risk on something like a new play, amongst all the other exciting projects I'm sure you have lined up, would be a welcome for any theatre-goer!

A x
Hi John, in response to your question - a part of the country that shouldn't miss out:

I read a blog about researching for a play to be set in the Rhondda or performed up there. I'm guessing this is where the 'valleys' tenth of the plays will be set?

For me, the Rhondda and Merthyr Tydfil are the go-to areas for anything to represent the whole valleys region, from news stories, to 'where to put the NTW office', to Royal visits to anything.

Have you thought about these valleys? - Cynon Valley, Blaenau Gwent, Rhymney Valley, Sirhowy Valley, Swansea Valley, Afan Valley.

There is no difference between them except profile, and it would show a real understanding of the region if a play was staged in one of these equally populous valleys.
Hi Tim - yes you're right, the 'Rhondda Blog' was an initial research trip to look into producing work in the valleys area, not necessarily the Rhondda Valley in particular but as one part of a network of valleys communities.

What about if something was staged simultaneously in all the valleys together all at the same time?
Good point. One of the interesting things about mapping is that there are a lot of different maps - as well as geography, there is population, transport, language, social statistics - all these things produce different maps. Which is a long-winded way of saying we could well do more than one project in the valleys. Or perhaps we can develop a project that somehow covers them all...
HI Alexander. Yes, I think you are right, commissioning new writers should be central to what we do. I'm reading a lot of work at the moment to get an idea of who it would be best to match to which ideas.
HI Alexander. Yes, I think you are right, commissioning new writers should be central to what we do. I'm reading a lot of work at the moment to get an idea of who it would be best to match to which ideas.
Hi John,

In response to the 'where to' part of your blog I just wanted to throw 'Newport' into the mix. Having lived in Newport all my life it's been apparent to me, in all the time that I can recall,that there has been a lack of high quality, innovative work either shown or produced there, which is a crying shame as I feel the city has so much to offer. Unfortunately, I think in the past the city has been overshadowed by it's more negative reputation and therefore has never attracted (or at least kept hold of) the many creative individuals that it has a wealth of. Yes - it is very close to Cardiff but is unique in it's own right and could really benefit from something like this... be good to hear your thoughts?
thanks Stacey. I've had a meeting already with Nic who runs the Riverfront theatre in Newport to look at possibilities. I'll keep you posted on what develops.


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