Radical Creatures commission press release - National Theatre Wales

Radical Creatures commission press release

Release date: Wednesday 13 March 2019


  • The production is inspired by a hidden story from Cardiff’s 1896 Great Exhibition
  • Radical Creatures is a new National Theatre Wales initiative calling for original ideas from women artists
  • The company will also work with three other shortlisted artists whose ideas particularly impressed the panel

National Theatre Wales will stage a brand new production by Hannah McPake in 2020. The show, titled Balloon Girl, is the successful bid for the company’s Radical Creatures commission – an idea launched in November inviting Welsh women artists to submit extraordinary, original ideas that explore what it means to be a woman in Wales today.

The successful idea, submitted by theatre maker, director, actor and musician McPake, will become a fully-staged production in 2020 as part of National Theatre Wales’ 10th birthday season.

Balloon Girl will be a large-scale, multi-platform production inspired by Cardiff’s Fine Arts, Industrial and Maritime Exhibition of 1896 – an enormous spectacle that drew over a million visitors to the city – and in particular the extraordinary true story of a hot air balloon flight that ended in tragedy.

McPake is best known for her work as one half of Cardiff-based gig-theatre company Gagglebabble.

Reflecting the strength of proposals in the shortlist, three other ideas – by poet and playwright Menna Elfyn and theatre makers Angharad Lee and Tina Pasotra – particularly impressed the Radical Creatures judging panel, and National Theatre Wales also intends to develop these three ideas further.

Hannah McPake said: “Balloon Girl is a story of reaching for the skies. The Radical Creatures call-out dared me to dream beyond what I imagined possible as an individual artist. I’m thrilled to be working with National Theatre Wales, to bring an extraordinary Welsh story back to life, whilst celebrating the stories of the people who live here today. This in an ambitious and bold project and would not be possible without the support and expertise of National Theatre Wales.”

National Theatre Wales’ Artistic Director Kully Thiarai said: “What an extraordinary response we’ve had to the Radical Creatures call-out – the panel were hugely impressed with the range and diversity of ideas and the ambitions of the artists. With such an exceptionally strong shortlist, it was always going to be difficult to choose one single idea, but Balloon Girl caught everyone’s imagination. It tells a little-known story more than 100 years old, but one that reflects so eloquently our contemporary dreams and desires as women.”

Full details of Balloon Girl will be announced as part of National Theatre Wales’ 2020 season announcement, later this year.


Notes for Editors

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Artist Biographies

Hannah McPake is a performer, theatre maker and director. She is co-founder of multi-award-winning gig-theatre company Gagglebabble, and Shakedown Cardiff. As a performer, Hannah’s extensive theatre credits include work with; Sherman Cymru, Told by an Idiot, Improbable, Spymonkey, Shakespeare’s Globe, National Theatre of Scotland, National Theatre Wales and China Plate. Her directing credits include work with Likely Story/Wales Millennium Centre, Mess up the Mess and Yellobrick, as well as creating work with Gagglebabble.

National Theatre Wales has been making English-language productions in locations all over Wales, the UK, internationally and online since March 2010. It operates from a small base in Cardiff’s city centre, but works all over the country and beyond, using Wales’ rich and diverse landscape, its towns, cities and villages, its incredible stories and rich talent as its inspiration. National Theatre Wales is supported by the Welsh Government and the Arts Council of Wales. nationaltheatrewales.org

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