I’m excited to share with you the first cast of our 2019 season! They’ll be working on STORM 3: Together and Alone. The storm cycle is an experimental set of shows. I love this idea so here’s a little about it.
The Storm Cycle is the brainchild of Pearson / Brookes and imagines theatre fit for tempestuous times. A body of work in multiple parts, dealing with truth and testimony. Each storm is a theatrical experiment with form and a stand-alone event. Think weather swirling overhead, gathering strength, surging into being in different locations, raging and thundering, then blowing over, dying down to a distant purr until the next instalment. It speaks to the social-political din that we live in; wild fires and firebrands, borders breached by rising tides, fury, floods, sound bites, click bait, safe space, the pressure that builds, crackles and breaks. The atmosphere feels volatile and palpable. But maybe it’s nothing new.
For STORM 1: Nothing Remains the Same, audiences were plunged into pitch darkness in the cavernous Pafiliwn Bont. The text was a beautiful reimagining of the first two books of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In headphones, Mike Pearson took the first, Chaos & Creation and Aimee Ffion-Edwards narrated the second, Ignition & Eclipse. They deal with the churning turmoil of creation and transformation, and the fallibility and recklessness of humanity.
Meanwhile, outside our headphones, an amazing sound design from John Hardy Music started as a far-off rumble and built to a cacophony that you could feel in your chest. At the climax, a huge shutter on one side of the venue rose to reveal a towering burning tree, suspended in the darkness. It looked incredible and you could feel the heat on your face. There are few images in theatre that I’ll remember like that one.
STORM 2: Things Come Apart centred on the palimpsest where Cardiff city centre meets Bute Street. In the Tabernacle Chapel, set back from the Hayes, Ali Goolyad, Aisling Groves-McKeown and John Rowley read from thick bound scripts of period news reports and pieced together the violence and confusion that simmered and erupted on the same ground almost 100 years earlier. Glass shattered, shots fired, police horses rearing up at crowds of onlookers, people running through the warren of streets where the John Lewis beauty counters now stands.
Witnessing this reconstruction-of-sorts felt ritualistic and reminded me of London in the heat of August 2011, the bias and vitriol that swirled in the press then, and now. The idea that stayed with me is of reporters rushing to phone in their real-time take on the chaos, creating a warped, partial account that sits adjacent to truth but goes down in history.
STORM 3: Together and Alone is conceived and directed by Mike Brookes, to be staged in Newport at the Neon, a former cinema. For the text, Mike’s taken inspiration from Simone de Beauvoir’s work, written amidst the desolation and optimism that followed the Second World War, at the birth of the Europe in which we now live. Tic Ashfield is the sound designer and composer, Julia Thomas is Associate Director and Kyle Legall, Emerging Director. Together and Alone will bring something of the current storm inside. The team will transform the Neon with this experimental, performer-led show about finding your place in the world and the limits of your power.
We’re bringing together a really exciting cast of actors and performance poets and I can’t wait to see them on stage, they’ll be a force. They are:
CONNOR ALLEN – Connor is a Trinity Saint David graduate from Newport. He’s worked with companies including Taking Flight, Torch Theatre, Omidaze and Sherman Theatre. He’s a Triforce MonologueSlam winner and recently he performed on Newport’s transporter bridge in Tin Shed Theatre Co’s Moby Dick. His other credits include Our Girl and Outsiders, both for BBC Wales.
JUSTIN CLIFFE – Justin is a Newport-based Theatre Maker. He devises, directs and performs theatre and live art; making work as an individual, a co-collaborator and as part of Tin Shed Theatre Co. Justin’s developed and performed work in the UK and internationally with; The Bristol Old Vic, National Theatre Wales, China Plate’s Optimist Scheme, Battersea Arts Centre, Likely Story, Mr
& Mrs Clark, We Made This, Theatr Iolo, San Diego Fringe Festival, Alma Alter: Bulgaria, and The Birmingham REP.
ABIGAIL FITZGERALD – Abigail is from Newport. She first worked with NTW on Peter Gill’s A Provincial Life. She’s since trained at LIPA and toured the UK and Ireland with various theatre companies. She’s excited to be working in her hometown.
ALEXA JONES-YOUNG – Alexa is from Swansea, she’s right at the start of her career and this is her first professional theatre role. Her credits include The Living and the Dead (BBC), New Worlds, (Channel 4) and the guest lead role of Melissa in Crash (Red Planet Pictures / BBC).
ZARU JONSON – Zaru Jonson is a writer and performer, raised mainly in North Wales and based in Cardiff since 2009. Since then he has supported artists such as Saul Williams, Buddy Wakefield, Staceyann Chin, Listener, Dr. Syntax and Fliptrix with his clattering spoken word and weirder-than-thou rap music, which has taken him up and down Wales, swerving into England, and once as far afield as the PEN International Literature Festival, NYC.
RUFUS MUFASA – Rufus is a lyricist, rapper and performance art poet. She recently launched a solo album, Fur Coats From The Lion’s Den. Rufus is a Hay Writer at Work, supports several intergenerational projects, mentors men at Parc Prison and is planning her fourth visit to Finland, where she recently headlined the Helsinki Literature Festival, was the first Welsh artist to perform at Ruisrock festival and mentors Finnish beat poets. Rufus now writes trilingually in Welsh, Finnish and English.
POPPY RIVERS-VINCENT – Poppy is from the Brecon Beacons. She’s trained as an actor with National Youth Theatre and studied a foundation course at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. As part of Festival of Voice 2018, she worked behind the scenes with Gagglebabble and the Wales Millennium Centre on Double Vision. Recently, she played the lead in Cardiff-based feature film Communists!
SEREN VICKERS – Seren is a graduate of Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. She’s worked with companies like Sherman Theatre, Cwmni Pluen and goodcopbadcop. At Cardiff’s 2018 Festival of Voice, she played Medea in Highway One, a Wales Millennium Centre/August012 production. Her other credits include Andrea in Dark Vanilla Jungle, Company of Sirens; Two in hang, Run Amok; and Regan in The King Lear, Shifting Sands.
It was an absolute pleasure to see performers for this show so huge thanks to everyone we met at audition. I’ll share more details soon on 2019 casting. Actors, as ever, if you have work coming up, please invite me! Or if you’d like to grab a coffee or drop me a line to introduce yourself, please do. If you’re new to NTW, you can see our Casting Policy here.
I’ll be blogging here from time to time and you can reach me at Mawgaine@nationaltheatrewales.org, or via twitter @Mawgaine_ntw