6 April 2020
- National Theatre Wales announce Network – a new digital programme of opportunities for theatre makers, delivered in partnership with two of Wales’s leading theatre organisations, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru and Sherman Theatre – developed in response to impact of COVID-19 lockdown
- Programme designed to create vital job opportunities for performance industry while connecting and engaging with audiences and communities online during period of social isolation
- BBC Cymru Wales and BBC Arts, as part of their Culture In Quarantine initiative, are announced as Network’s commissioning and digital partners
- New commission call outs and play readings are amongst the opportunities in the new programme announced today
National Theatre Wales (NTW) launched a new digital programme today, developed to create opportunities for theatre makers while venues remain closed as a result of Coronavirus. Network is a new online initiative aimed at connecting communities, sharing moments, reimagining live theatre while enabling and nurturing the performing arts sector in Wales.
Network, will include key partnerships between two of Wales’ national companies, along with one of Wales’ leading producing houses, Sherman Theatre, to provide Wales’ theatre and performance sector with a galvanised sense of community, crucial employment opportunities and the impetus to create. BBC Cymru Wales and BBC Arts will act as programme’s commissioning and digital partners, pledging broadcast and digital support to artists working on the programme, bringing this new initiative to the widest possible audiences across Wales and the UK.
NTW’s new Artistic Director, Lorne Campbell, who recently started with the company said
“As National Theatre Wales, and as a collective of people, we are deeply aware of our role in supporting, enabling and nurturing the performance sector in Wales. We want to create opportunities for Theatre Makers to work, collaborate and create, and for audiences and communities to have access to those precious live moments of connection and community that can feel so elusive during lockdown.
I’m delighted that we’re collaborating with two of Wales’ leading theatre companies, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru and Sherman Theatre to offer opportunities for artists, communities and audiences to experience new and innovative theatre, this time on a digital stage. I’m also grateful for the support of BBC Wales and BBC Arts who are supporting commissions as well as providing vital technical and digital support for the programme, ensuring that we can reach audiences further afield to connect and engage in these new pieces of work .
He continued, “It’s imperative for us to continue to create employment opportunities for artists at this time of uncertainty and vulnerability. It’s also our duty to continue to provide our audiences the experience of great theatre – theatre that tells stories. Stories guide us to make sense of the world around us. They generate conversation and a connection. They can provide everyone with a sense of the nation coming together while we’re all feeling a sense of disconnect – something that has never felt more important. We’re a company that can share our resources, our expertise and our networks to service audiences, communities and theatre makers of Wales alike. We are fortunate to have a great family here at National Theatre Wales and I’m proud to be leading the team to offer new and innovative ways to create and collaborate during this period of national and global crisis.”
The Network programme features two key projects:
New Digital Commissions: NTW will work in partnership with Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru to invite theatre artists of Wales to come up with innovative, exciting and human responses during the ongoing lockdown. New Digital Commissions is an open call opportunity for new commissions to make Live Theatre in digital spaces – theatre that will help audiences, communities and theatre makers to come together whilst we are all kept apart.
Play Readings: 12 Plays in digital spaces. NTW and Sherman Theatre will work together with a range of independent companies and artists to produce play readings, showcasing the talent of playwrights, companies and creatives across Wales. The partnership will enable Welsh directors, actors, and designers to be fully supported and funded to deliver the reading, while providing a platform to share homegrown work, alongside contemporary classic titles that may not yet have been performed here in Wales.
Commenting on the partnership between the two national theatre companies of Wales, Arwel Gruffydd, Artistic Director of Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru said, “I’m delighted that Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru and National Theatre Wales have come together in a moment of crisis to present an imaginative and multilingual initiative that reaches our audiences in accessible and inclusive ways and invites our creative community to join us on a new adventure. Together, we can achieve so much more and I’m sure we’ll see some wonderful and unexpected results from these projects.”
Artistic Director at Sherman Theatre, Joe Murphy added “In these chaotic and uncertain days, I have been struck by the amount of people who have been reaching out to each other. It’s been so energising to see, and be part of, the close collaborations across our industry that are committed to supporting artists and serving audiences. We are thrilled to be working with NTW on this project and, in a time of limited resource, Sherman Theatre looks forward to contributing the resources we do have to our community and our audiences: our expertise in dramaturgy, our creative collaboration, and, of course, our time.”
Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director of BBC Wales, said “BBC Cymru Wales is committed to offering our audiences continued access to a broad range of art and culture at this challenging time. We are very pleased to renew our long standing collaboration with National Theatre Wales and also to continue our substantial commitment to Welsh drama.”
In addition to Network , NTW is also joining forces with theatre companies, casting directors, and agents throughout Wales to welcome 2020 acting graduates to the industry.
Many actors emerging from training have had their long-awaited showcases cancelled due to the pandemic. In response to this, NTW and its partners will help connect industry professionals in Wales who are eager to meet new graduates as they embark on their careers. Welsh theatre makers and industry professionals will be offering their time and advice in the coming weeks.
NTW has had to adjust quickly in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. Last month, saw the cancellation of their programmed run of Hail Cremation!, with a number of productions rescheduled or postponed indefinitely until more clarity around the length of the crisis emerges.
All employment contracts for the cast, crew and creatives of Hail Cremation! were honored in full by National Theatre Wales.
NTW TEAM will adapt to continue its four-year programme of work focused on co-creation with the communities of Pembrokeshire and Wrexham. NTW are working with TEAM Panel to explore ways of taking creative activities online and refocusing work and resources to support grass roots partners. The Agency, which works with people aged 15-25 from the Butetown, Riverside and Grangetown areas of Cardiff on ideas, training, support, funding and advice from industry professionals to develop passions into a project that benefits local communities will continue to support and work with its Agents and partners adapting the approach where possible to move online.
National Theatre Wales and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru are now welcoming submissions for their New Digital Commissions from Creatives and Theatre Makers across Wales in both English and Welsh. More information about how to submit a commission can be found by visiting www.nationaltheatrewales.org
National Theatre Wales would like to take this opportunity to express its gratitude to Wales’ front line workers for their enormous efforts to keep the nation safe. Lisa Maguire, Executive Producer at NTW said “Our sincere thanks go to staff in NHS Wales and Social Care settings as well as other key workers throughout the nation. It’s humbling to see the quick response of those who are helping to rapidly adapt venues such as arts centres, rugby stadiums and community halls to respond to the challenge Welsh communities face. Together we are stronger and we are hopeful that the Welsh theatre community can emulate this spirit during these extraordinary times.”