National Theatre Wales announces 2020 season - National Theatre Wales

National Theatre Wales announces 2020 season

National Theatre Wales announces Kully Thiarai’s outgoing season prior to Lorne Campbell leading the company into its next decade

• National Theatre Wales’ 2020 season celebrates 10 remarkable years of developing extraordinary theatre and enabling theatre makers in Wales to widen and realise their own ambitions

• The season includes a musical theatre spectacular about an eccentric doctor from Llantrisant, a large-scale outdoor production inspired by an incredible true tale, a wild story touring the forests of Wales, a digital experience remembering the Cardiff Race Riots, and National Theatre Wales’ inaugural TEAM production in Pembrokeshire

Artistic Director Kully Thiarai today announces National Theatre Wales’ (NTW) tenth anniversary programme – an ambitious range of work created by a diverse group of imaginative theatre makers from across Wales. Featuring four epic productions; a digital, visual and storytelling experience; new commissions to intrigue and excite; and a host of creative development and collaboration activity. Theatre makers are at the heart of NTW’s new season.

Since 2010 NTW has been making extraordinary theatre experiences for audiences across Wales
by enabling and supporting talent, through devising, exploring and embracing new ideas and new artforms. This tenth anniversary season places theatre makers who have grown with the company centre-stage – showcasing the bold and original work of this next generation of talented artists, and celebrating a decade of NTW’s commitment to supporting and championing theatre makers from emerging talent to established creatives.

This year of work will explore the unsung heroes of Wales and undiscovered Welsh stories from our past, present, and possible future, and will offer audiences the opportunity to experience theatre that challenges, entertains and inspires.

Kully Thiarai said “It has been a privilege to lead this exceptional company over the last three and a half years and to be able to mark its remarkable ten years. I have worked with a huge number of wonderfully talented people and have seen a broad-range of talent develop through the company. Whether seeing the impact of delivering City of the Unexpected to thousands or the intimacy of our shows in community spaces, the commitment from TEAM to our communities or taking over the iconic Principality Stadium to make our most recent immersive theatre experience, NTW has been bold and ambitious; celebrating the people and places of Wales with imagination, generosity and integrity.

Having had the privilege of directing a show in the inaugural year of NTW, I’m thrilled that our tenth anniversary season brings together some of the most exciting talent in Wales and celebrates some of the truly extraordinary moments in this nation’s history.”

Hail Cremation!
By Jon Tregenna. Directed by Adele Thomas
Opening the new season in March 2020 will be Jon Tregenna’s Hail Cremation! – a psychedelic musical about Llanstrisant’s most eccentric doctor who became known as ‘the father of cremation’. Staged at Newbridge Memo, Hail Cremation! tells the story of the extraordinary life of Dr William Price, a Welsh visionary and an eccentric of Victorian society. Well-loved Welsh actor Lee Mengo will play the lead role of Dr William Price in this madcap multi-media musical extravaganza.
Hail Cremation! Newbridge Memo, 23 March – 4 April 2020. Tickets go on sale today.

Balloon Girl
By Hannah McPake
Last year NTW launched Radical Creatures, a call out inviting Welsh women* artists to submit extraordinary, original ideas that explore what it means to be a woman in Wales today. The result was a commission by theatre-maker Hannah McPake. Balloon Girl tells a little-known story that is more than 100 years old, one that resonates with the contemporary dreams and desires of many women today.

In an iconic location in central Cardiff, Balloon Girl is a spectacular, large-scale, outdoor production full of wonder and magic, inspired by an incredible true story. Set against the backdrop of Cardiff’s epic Great Exhibition of 1896, which drew over one million visitors to Cardiff, a fearless young woman defies the odds. * Those identifying as a woman, trans-woman or non-binary person.
Balloon Girl, Cardiff locations, 24-26 July 2020.

Go Tell The Bees
By NTW TEAM Pembrokeshire
Co-Creators; Naomi Chiffi, Almir Koldzic, Gavin Porter and Julia Thomas
Recognised as a pioneering and unique approach to engagement, NTW’s TEAM initiative is a worldwide, diverse network of friends who collaborate with the company. In 2020 NTW TEAM will embark on its biggest and most ambitious project to date – one that will engage and co-create with the communities of Pembrokeshire. Go Tell The Bees is a full-scale production made and staged in Manorbier and Pembroke based on the theme of the Environment, Nature and Climate, themes chosen by the people of Pembrokeshire. Go Tell The Bees, Manorbier and Pembroke, 12 -13 September 2020.

Wild Scenes At Cardiff
Created by Kyle Legall and Mike Pearson
Wild Scenes At Cardiff is a vivid day-by-day, hour-by-hour, scene-by-scene account of the Cardiff Race Riots, pieced together from reports in the local newspaper. In 1919, Cardiff was plunged into four days and nights of violent mayhem that left three dead.

The Wild Scenes At Cardiff digital experience, created by Butetown artist Kyle Legall and influential theatre maker Mike Pearson, takes audiences to the spot, as close to the original sites as possible to tell the story of the people, places and incidents involved in a shocking moment of racial disharmony in a cityscape now completely changed. Wild Scenes At Cardiff digital experience. Online and in Cardiff, June 2020.

Created by Buddug James Jones, Frank Thomas and Jesse Briton
Performed deep in the forests of Wales in a magical performance space, Frank is the story of real-life poet and snake anti-venom factory worker Frank Thomas. The production explores what it means to connect to nature, in a new show that draws inspiration from Wales’ landscape and its people. The show will feature original poetry by the artist himself. Touring forests of north, west, mid and south Wales during spring 2020.

Creative Development

Looking further ahead, NTW’s 2020 season features new commissions in progress. These include: Mouth a startling new piece of work by Tom Wentworth that puts sex, disability and family relationships centre stage, and Bethan Marlow exploring what it is to be young, fierce and vulnerable in her new work Feral Monsters.

Located Residencies
Through our Located Residencies from NTW’s Creative Development programme, we continue to support early-stage performance projects on location across Wales. From designers to poets to artist-activists, alongside NTW’s Emerging Producers, projects explore the rhythms of Welsh protest movements to the future sustainability of the Wales Coast Path. The Located Residencies unearth urgent questions about Wales and our changing world in visionary ways.

This year’s chosen lead artists are: Yasmin Begum, Natasha Borton, Becky Davies, Gentle/Radical, Phil Jones, Emily Laurens, Alison Neighbour and Durre Shahwar.

National Theatre Wales, BBC Cymru Wales and BBC Writersroom Wales
Rhiannon Boyle will embark on her journey with NTW next year when she joins the company for a 6-month term as part of her year-long appointment as Wales Writer in Residence.

First spending time with BBC Wales, she will then join NTW, where she will explore her ideas and writing further and be a key part of the team. Further details about the 2020 Writer in Residence will be announced by BBC Wales on 9 December 2019.


NTW TEAM Wrexham
TEAM’s relationship with Wrexham goes back some years, starting with its first event there in 2015. The next step in NTW’s TEAM celebration of Wrexham and TEAM is the development of a unique collaborative approach to the theme of Homelessness, a theme chosen and guided by the people of Wrexham and developed by NTW’s worldwide TEAM network. This will culminate in a full production, staged in 2021.

The Agency
Led by Gavin Porter in partnership with Battersea Arts Centre, Contact Theatre, People’s Palace Projects, Agência de Redes para Juventude and originally supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, NTW’s The Agency continues in 2020 with a group of people from the Butetown, Riverside and Grangetown areas of Cardiff. Armed with ideas that need to happen, NTW provides the young people (Agents) with training support, funding and advice from industry professionals, to develop their passions into a project that benefits local communities.

Later this month, the Agents will pitch their ideas for businesses to a professional panel. Three chosen projects will be awarded a budget of £2000 each to develop and trial their ideas over the next 6 months.

Supporting National Theatre Wales

NTW is a registered charity, and relies on donations from individuals, businesses and trusts and foundations to keep on creating extraordinary theatre across Wales and beyond. To find out how you can support NTW please visit: Support National Theatre Wales

Tuesday 3 December is Giving Tuesday – the global campaign which encourages people to support the charitable causes that matter to them. This year NTW will be participating, seeking donations to support the company’s future projects. Find out more here: National Theatre Wales Giving Tuesday

o Hail Cremation! Newbridge Memo, 23 March – 4 April 2020. On sale 3 December 2019
o Balloon Girl, Cardiff locations, 24 – 26 July 2020
o Go Tell The Bees, Manorbier and Pembroke, 12 – 13 September 2020
o Frank, Forests across Wales, spring 2020
o Wild Scenes At Cardiff, Cardiff and Online, June 2020

Tickets for Hail Cremation! are now on sale. Age guidance 14+ National Theatre Wales – Hail Cremation!

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