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My Body Welsh – A Rumination on Welsh National Identity

In a world where nationalism has become muddied by dangerous right-wing rhetoric, it is easy to forget about the metaphysical merit of searching for one’s own national identity. Often, it is a discovery laden with history, language, surprise and – most importantly – growth. Welsh national identity, too, is made particularly interesting  by the complicated amalgamation of Welsh and Anglo culture which has left Wales – particularly the South – iridescent. Despite this, the sense of community in Wales is as prominent as our valleys and our stories. Pontio, Invertigo Theatre Company’s and The Conker Group’s newest offering, My Body Welsh, is a play that concerns itself with these issues of national identity, and more with creative aplomb:

“MY BODY WELSH is a playful, part-bilingual, one-man mystery adventure. Weaving stories, histories, sounds and language, performer Steffan Donnelly transports his audience into a slippery world of small-town myth-making. Accompanied by a live soundscape artist creating sounds both with and in front of the audience, the show creates community in its telling, leaving us wondering the extent to which national identity is built upon stories.”

The play weaves its way through the infamous streets of Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch and into the minds behind small town myth-making and culture building. The play asks if “There’s more to being Welsh than having the accent, isn’t there?”, and it’s up to you to attend and find out the answer. The play is on tour at the moment and will be arriving in Cardiff at Chapter Arts on the 13 / 14 of January. This looks like a real treat, so be sure to grab your tickets for My Body Welsh here at Chapter, if you fancy it.

my_body_welsh

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Take part in a one-off performance at the Temple of Peace!

Feeling a bit experimental? Artes Mundi and Chapter are offering the opportunity for Cardiff residents to take part in a one off performance at the Temple of Peace in November as part of Artes Mundi 6 exhibition and Chapter’s EXPERIMENTICA.

Artist Karen Mirza and Brad Butler will be conducting a workshop and performance based on Bertolt Brecht’s short ‘learning plays’ ‘The Exception and the Rule’. They are looking for 10 local participants.

artes mundi exception and rule 2014

WANNA PLAY? Here’s the deal:

Are you an artist with a foot in activism, a community organiser, or a small business owner?

Are you someone who questions the status quo?

Are you interested in uncovering structures of power and exclusion?

Are you the exception and the rule?

Artes Mundi has commissioned UK-based artists Karen Mirza and Brad Butler to present ‘The Museum of Non Participation’ an instalment of their fictional museum and ongoing body of work that confronts (non) participation and the socio-political in art.

For this presentation, Mirza and Butler are inviting local residents to workshop and stage one of Bertolt Brecht’s short ‘learning plays’ ‘The Exception and the Rule’. The ‘rule’ implies a legal language or a directive, while the ‘exception’ evokes being ungovernable or searching for an alternative to either the state or the free market. Together, they act as both a statement that ‘the rule cannot exist without the exception, and a question as to what a state of exception might be. Through the story of a merchant and his servant, The Exception and the Rule explores themes of capitalism and economics, labour and hierarchy, legislation and state ideology, hiding and secrecy, and the lack of union rights.

The artists invite you to eat, talk, rehearse, and perform together in order to explore and enact how these themes play out in our daily lives, to consider how they can be extended to the audience as active participants.

The ‘Exception and the Rule’ is one of Brecht’s several teaching plays. Brecht himself translated the term as ‘learning play,’ intended to educate people primarily about socialist politics. Typically, this form of political theatre privileges function above content and foregrounds collective teaching and learning through various modes of performance. It attempts to break down any division between author and audience through reflexive gestures that reveal the ’mechanics of theatre’. Through this and other plays, Brecht developed a way for non actors to learn through playing roles, adopting postures, getting rid of the divide between actors and audience, and focusing on process rather than a final project.

Working in the same vein, Mirza and Butler encourage you to enter into the project with the spirit of mutual enrichment and collaboration, where personal experiences/expertise and collective interpretation ultimately converge in the public presentation of the play.

More information: http://www.artesmundi.org/en/news/karen-mirza-and-brad-butler-the-museum-of-non-participation

Or ask away on Twitter:  @artesmundi.