Tag Archives: theatre Cardiff

What’s on in Cardiff! 8-14 February 2016

Part two in our series of ‘what’s on’ posts for each week in Feb. If you like them, make sure to comment and we’ll do more. If you hate them, comment, and we won’t do more. If you’re indifferent, say nothing, and we’ll meh along with you.

Here we go!

What’s on in Cardiff this week

Monday 8-13 Feb – The Rocky Horror Show

Bursting at the seams with timeless classics (Sweet Transvestite! Damn it Janet! Time Warp!) Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show is a non-stop party. Be warned, this show has rude parts!

19:30 – 23:00  |  New Theatre Cardiff, Park Place  | Book tickets for The Rocky Horror Show


Monday 8 Feb – Creative Cardiff Show and Tell

Creative Cardiff’s Show and Tell is a quarterly event that gives a platform to some of the exciting range of creative people and projects in the city. It will bring together Cardiff’s creative community, from emerging talent to old hand, to hear about their current projects and ambitions.

Each of the speakers will give a 10 minute lightening talk. And they’ll bring an object. The object might be the source of their inspiration, a tool of their trade or a comfort blanket. The speakers will share their work and explain the importance of the object they’ve brought along.


Anton Faulconbridge: Anton has worked in creative and interactive media since 1994, specialising in the development and delivery of multi-platform creative software products.

Claire Hill: Claire fell in love with making jewellery after taking an evening class and discovering the zen-like qualities of making after long days working as a director/producer in factual television. She’s also a co-founder of Dirty Protest Theatre and also co-runs the Push:Auto network for people who work across all aspects of broadcasting in Wales.

John Rostron: John is a key figure in Cardiff’s music scene, founding both the Sŵn festival and the Welsh Music Prize. John promotes live music in Cardiff through his company Sound Nation and is the current Vice-Chair of the Association of Independent Festivals.

18:00 – 19:30 | Porter’s, Bute Street, Cardiff, CF10 2FE | Book tickets for Show and Tell


Tuesday 9 Feb -The Devil Inside

A gritty, glittery, Faustian folktale, set firmly in the twenty-first century. Inspired by The Bottle Imp, a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson, this brand new opera echoes his most famous tale The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Two friends stumble upon a bottle that will change their lives, a bottle that can grant any wish. But there’s a catch and the bottle demands a payment…

This evening of magic and enchantment, with a touch of Tales of the Unexpected, will keep you guessing, and leave you thinking ‘be careful what you wish for’.

19:30  |  Sherman Cymru, Senghennyd Road | Book tickets for The Devil Inside


Tuesday 9 Feb – Wonderbrass: ANNUAL MARDI GRAS with Barracwda

Mardi Gras is time to be bold. It’s time to be colorful. And it’s time to shake your festival shoes to Wonderbrass as they bring a bouncing night of internationlist world brass-jazz riot to headline our Mardi Brass! As perenial Gwdihw brass-blasting, heat-bringing, booty-shaking favourites, there’s no-one betterto bring the party to the Mardi Gras than the huge (literally, there’s dozens of them!) Wonderbrass, with the release of the “What The Actual Funk” EP!

They packed us out early doors when supporting Broken Brass Ensemble with a stunning set and we expect this to be another cracker, with Mardi Gras party tunes designed to get you shaking your tail, head and shoulder feathers about the room. As if that wasn’t enough, Barracwda will be bringing live Samba drumming to kick things off, and as it’s Shrove Tuesday, expect some free pancakes if you get in early!

WONDERBRASS – https://www.facebook.com/wonderbrasswales/
BARRACWDA – https://www.facebook.com/barracwda

20:00 |  Gwdihŵ Café Bar, 6 Guildford Crescent  |  £4/£3 adv  | Wonderbrass tickets


Friday 12 -14 Feb – From Now On Festival 2016

mark thomas shape records by adam chard

Now in its third year of sonic discovery, From Now On is here, to fill Chapter with adventurous, fresh and boundary pushing music!

This year’s line up: Julia Holter / Stealing Sheep / Meilyr Jones / Laura Cannell / Happy Meals / Laura J Martin / Bas Jan / Apostille / L’Ocelle Mare / Mark Lyken / Giant Swan / Threatmantics / Anna Homler & Steven Warwick: Breadwoman / Tim Parkinson: Time with People / H. Hawkline Gwaed Ar Y Sêr / Sweet Baboo: Synthfonia Cymru / Sleeper Society / CAM Sinema / Chapter Cinema / Club Foot Foot / Arc Vertiac.

Read our interview with Sparky Mark (yeah, I still call him that) from Shape Records from last year’s event

18.00 – 23.00  |  Chapter Arts Centre  |  From Now On Facebook event


Friday 12 Feb – Bullion Presents Break / Dead Mans Chest (Eveson) / Boston

If your idea of a good Valentine’s celebration is some chest-vibrating jungle / drum’n’bass, then get yourself to Clwb for Bullion: Break and Dead Mans Chest (aka Eveson) plus Cardiff local boy Boston will bring some serious Symmetry sounds.

Room two hosted by Switch – electro house music, all night long!

22.00 – 04.00  |  Clwb  |  Bullion Facebook event


Saturday 13 Feb – 6 Nations: Wales v Scotland

giant rugby ball

It’s rare we promote the mainstream sportz on this blog (especially as the game is sold out), but this game’s going to be a BIG ONE – so take this as a warning about getting into / out of / around town on Saturday if you’re planning a casual visit during the day …


Sunday 14 Feb – Cardiff’s Affordable Vintage Fair


If you’ve got shopping on your mind this Valentine’s Day, go vintage! Situated in Portland House – a historic banking hall near Cardiff Bay, it’s the perfect venue for Judy’s affordable vintage fair. Expect over 30 stalls packed with the finest vintage from 1940s onwards! Fashion, homewares, accessories and a full tea room for those feeling a tad peckish!

11.00 – 14.00  |  Entry £2, Under 12s free | Portland House, 113 – 116 Bute Street, CF10 5EQ | Vintage Fair Facebook event


That’s it for this week! Did we miss anything out? Let us know in the comments!

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Don’t miss Blud, playing at Cardiff’s pub theatre The Other Room until Fri 18 Sept


Cardiff’s pub theatre The Other Room, located in Porter’s, has opened its second season (entitled ‘Blue Sky’) with new play Blud, written by Wales Drama Award winner 2014 Kelly Jones. Blud has had great reviews, and is still running at The Other Room until Friday 18 September. It’s even been featured in the Guardian’s Top Ten Tickets this week! (Get your tickets here)


Blud is a co-production between The Other Room and otherMother, a new Welsh, all female theatre company set up by producer Olivia Harris, director Anna Poole and playwright Kelly Jones. The play is a powerful and authentic exploration of the call for war in a town defined by football. Artistic Director of The Other Room Kate Wasserberg comments:

“When I first read Blud, a play about those girls who are left behind and desperate to belong, it broke my heart a little – and made me laugh out loud. Never allowing her characters to become victims, Kelly tempers the violence and vulnerability of these girls with a celebration of their courage, humour, loyalty and the wild passions of their imagination. It is work like this that has the power to inspire the next generation of audiences, of theatre makers and all of us – to make the world a little better. otherMother is a company of brilliant women with big ideas and I could not be more proud that their very first show will be at The Other Room.”

Playwright Kelly Jones comments:

“For me Blud feels very much like a play about the town where I’m from (Dagenham). It tells the story of an area once rich in industry but now struggling, left a wasteland with no opportunities or hope. The inspiration for the play came from my love of football and an article I read about a female football firm in the 1980s who claimed they were fighting for the working class under Thatcher’s government. The process of writing the play has been exciting and involved myself studying the art of football tactics and war strategy, which feeds in to the internal structure of the play.”

Blud is the opening production of The Other Room’s second season ‘Blue Sky’, which also features Your Room (Mon 5 October – Sat 14 November), six weeks where hundreds of local artists will be invited to make work in the theatre with scratch performances, masterclasses and pop up events, and a Christmas production Alix in Wundergarten (Tue 1 – Sat 19 December), from resident company difficult|stage.

The season underlines The Other Room’s ambition to be a new, exciting and innovative voice within the cultural landscape of Cardiff. Artistic Director Kate Wasserberg explains:

“The idea behind ‘Blue Sky’ is simple. We are throwing open the doors and inviting the artists of Wales in. The sheer range of this season is thrilling, as we flood our little stage with hundreds of voices from this brilliant city. This is what The Other Room was made for, and we are very proud to be a home to the artists of the future.”

The Other Room’s second season will also feature various ‘TOR Presents’ events, including creative team members in conversation, guest speakers and cast talkbacks.

Tickets for Blud are available NOW from www.otherroomtheatre.com.

To keep updated on The Other Room, you can also follow the team on Twitter @TORtheatre and Facebook www.facebook.com/otherroomtheatre


Noel Sullivan’s (brief) return to Cardiff

You’ve probably heard of Noel Sullivan: previous member of Hear’Say, star of stage and screen, and most notably Nessa’s mate on Gavin and Stacey. He’s also a born and bred Cardiffian, and returned recently to perform in the stage adaptation of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Wales Millennium Centre. Writer Rhonda Lee Reali caught up with him for a chat about what he’s been up to since those heady days on Popstars.

DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS. Michael Praed (Lawrence), Carley Stenson (Christine) and Noel Sullivan (Freddy). Photo by Phil Tragen

Noel Sullivan returned to the Wales Millennium Centre in the musical, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in August this year, to play the role of Freddy Benson, the charming American that Steve Martin made famous in the 1988 film.

Noel’s first professional role was as an understudy with Welsh National Opera starting at 13. Before there was Pop Idol, X-Factor or The Voice, there was Popstars, and he burst onto screens in 2001 as part of Hear’Say, who won and went on to sell nearly three million records worldwide (two number one singles and a number one album), but then split after less than two years together.

Sullivan, 35, was honoured to take part in the Royal Gala Opening at the Millennium Centre in  2004. He went into musical theatre and hasn’t looked back. He’s acted, danced and sung his way through an impressive list of shows including Fame, Love Shack, Flashdance, Priscilla Queen Of The Desert and Rock Of Ages. Besides being in the UK touring shows, he made his West End debut as Danny Zuko in Grease and also performed as Galileo in the Queen/Ben Elton megahit We Will Rock You. He’s lived in the US for almost two years, treading the boards in Las Vegas doing Simply Ballroom and in the Midwest with the deceptively named The Twelve Irish Tenors. He’s even guest starred on Gavin & Stacey(yes!) and has a new album out, Here I Go Again. He very kindly took time out between Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and being en route to BBC Radio to speak to me about Cardiff, choirs, conmen and cuisine.


We Are Cardiff: What area of Cardiff are you from originally?

Sullivan: I grew up – my early years – in Grangetown. Then, later on, secondary school time, I was up in Caerau. I went to Mary Immaculate HS.

WAC: Were you a choirboy?

Sullivan: I was, yeah. A bit of a selection of choirs. For a little while, I went to St. John’s College. I was part of their choir school, at the Cathedral Choir there for a few years. Then after that, kind of South Glamorgan high schools, and then on to Black Mountain Male Chorus Of Wales. A lot of choir experience as you would expect from a good Welsh boy. [Chuckles]

WAC: How has being in choirs prepared you for your singing career?

Sullivan: There was never any doubt that I would do anything else, really. My grandmother was a music teacher, and I had a lot of support from about six-years-old, so it’s all I ever knew. It prepared me well for musical theatre especially because my St. John’s choir had a lot of voices and personalities. You have that with a touring company, so it definitely stood me in good stead!

WAC: Music played a big part in you life, obviously.

Sullivan: My grandmother was classically trained and influenced, but then my mum kind of gave me soul. She gave me Stevie [Wonder], Michael Jackson and Earth, Wind & Fire and all that stuff. So I had quite a nice balance.

WAC: What’s more daunting – being in a musical that’s been adapted from a film/being in a revival or originating a role?

Sullivan: I’ve originated a couple of roles, but the majority of stage work has been following onto from other people. It depends on the director that you get to work with. Some people make you follow stuff like before, and other people will allow you to find the piece yourself. With Scoundrels, I was very lucky that they allowed me to find it for myself.

WAC: How do you like the role of Freddy?

Sullivan: It’s a great role. It’s a great thing to be part of. You saw the audience reaction last night. People don’t know what to expect when they come along. It was great to see the Millennium Centre on their feet. I know standing ovations are not something that they get there all of the time. It was a great night for me. Obviously, to come home with such a great part as well. It’s such a joy to perform.

WAC: Was there any different preparation for this role as opposed to others?

Sullivan: Probably more than any other musical that I’ve worked on, this is definitely more of a play with music, so we have to approach it from the book first, and the songs are almost secondary, I think. It was a massive undertaking. You have to trust the comedy and the fact your director’s telling you that it’s working right because once the cast have seen it, it’s not funny again. So you don’t know. You’ve got then a five or six-week process where no one’s laughing, and you have to trust that when you get it on the stage that people are going to understand it.

WAC: I have to tell you that your Brooklyn accent was spot on.

Sullivan: Thank you very much. I detected a hint of it there!

WAC: I’m not from Brooklyn but not far from there.

Sullivan: It was great because when I was setting it up, they said I could – it would have been impossible to try and emulate Steve Martin. He’s such a one-of-a kind-performer. By letting me pick where I wanted him to be from, it made a massive difference in my characterisation.

WAC: You got to pick that?

Sullivan: Yeah, I got to pick where he was from. Because I’m younger than a couple of the guys that played him in the West End, I came up with a back story that he could be this wheeler-dealer kid from the streets of Brooklyn who got brought up by his gran, so I had quite a good time creating that. Obviously, they get a dialect coach in to teach everyone French and to give me the things for my character. The difficulty for me was alternating the Brooklyn and the southern accents. It couldn’t be deeper south, and they’re quite opposing sounds as well. It’s been great to get that, so you could flick from one to another in a heartbeat.

WAC: You and Jameson (Michael Praed’s character) are such opposites. I think making Freddy from Brooklyn really highlights the difference between the suave Englishman and him.

Sullivan: It adds a little brashness to him, which I’m familiar with -being from Cardiff. We were talking about it with the dialect coach. I was saying, “Why is it that some accents like New York and Cardiff and Liverpool have such a hard edge?” He was explaining to me that it’s because the people who work in those cities are usually working class, and they work in nearby docks and industries. They have to shout over everybody, all the noise, all of the time, to communicate with each other. It’s a fascinating thing that it all comes down to class. People who had more money wouldn’t have to shout out to communicate. It was really interesting to learn all of that stuff.

WAC: Do you have a favourite scene or song in the show?

Sullivan: It’s Love Is My Legs for me, that smouldering 80s power ballad where I get out of the wheelchair. It’s so much fun to play. It’s not very often you get backed by a choir! [Laughs] It’s very good!

WAC: If you had friends who’ve never been to Cardiff before, where would you take them? Besides the usual attractions?

Sullivan: It’s funny because all of my friends on the cast have been texting me – where should they go, what should they see, what should they do? The fact that a lot of us are based in the bay now, is brilliant, because especially in the last 10 years, it’s transformed into such a beautiful place. Yesterday was testament to that when the sun was shining. It’s pretty incredible down there. I recommend people go and have a look around the castle. Also, the arcades opposite the castle. I love those. And obviously now, we’ve got St. David’s, too, which brings us up to par with some of the other bigger cities in the UK. Which is great to have as well. It’s a sign of advancement, I think, when a city gets a John Lewis! [Laughs] Cardiff’s changed so much, and every time I come back, there’s new accommodations and new exciting restaurants to go and try. It’s a great city!

WAC: Any favourite pubs?

Sullivan: For 10 years, I lived just off Cathedral Road. My favourite local was the Cayo Arms on Cathedral Road. I love it there. It’s got a good, friendly atmosphere and cheap beer! [Laughs]

WAC: Do you have a favourite beach in Wales?

Sullivan: In south Wales? I love Southerndown in Ogmore Vale. It’s only like a 20 minute drive from Cardiff, and it’s really beautiful down there. This weekend, I went with my mum. She’s got a caravan in New Quay, west Wales. We went to this really rugged, beautiful beach called Caibach, which was stunning, and there was hardly anyone down there – even in August. You didn’t have to go very far to get a bit of Welsh coastline for yourself.

WAC: Do you have any particular Welsh food that you can’t live without?

Sullivan: I do. Something that you don’t get anywhere else is a Clark’s Pie. It’s a Cardiff staple. They’re delicious, but you can’t eat lots of them if you’re trying to stay as a healthy performer! They’ve got a shop in Canton, but I don’t know if it’s still there, even.

Note: The Canton shop is closed. The only remaining Clark’s Pie shop is in Grangetown.

Now all you fans know what to bring him at the stage door after a show. 😉


Rhonda Lee Reali is a writer based in Cardiff.

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Mary Bijou – Hitch! review, by Gareth Pahl

Theatre runs in my blood, it has always been in my life and always will hold a special place in my heart. I am also, as friends may describe me, the most critical critic! Being a hybrid of performer, designer and teacher, high expectation is as much my downfall as it is my making.

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If you expect sharp, polished performance then perhaps Mary Bijou’s ‘Hitch’ is not the show for you. However, what ‘Hitch’ does provide is a good, fun piece of collaborative cabaret style theatre. If, like me, you are excited about the dangers of live theatre then this is an absolute must see. Parts of it were perfect, parts of it were well recovered, and parts of it were just plane crash.

The concept – a series of performances inspired by the most loved films of Alfred Hitchcock, is ambitious but interesting. Mary Bijou have bottled the insanely morbid imagination of Hitchcock and added their own madness into the mix to create this ambitious, yet strangely captivating piece of theatre.
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The performers present with a range of talents – notably in circus, dance, music and comedy and they draw on these skills to create a unique and interesting collaborative performance. The performances are accompanied by the musical works of Tom Elstob, Bethan Cecil and Branwen Munn who created the soundtrack specifically for the show. There were technical issues that were slightly annoying during the first act, although these were ironed out during the interval.

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My favourite musical number was the accompaniment to Anna Sandreuter’s incredible aerial rope act. Not only was the music beautiful, but Anna’s performance on the ropes was flawless and breath-taking. She also made it look easy – and trust me it really isn’t! It’s a shame that Anna’s hula hoop act didn’t go without flaw, however the cabaret nature of the show meant she could recover well and with comedic effect – even adding to the performance.

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Laura Moy’s performance on the Chinese pole inspired by the film ‘The Birds’ was of equally high calibre. The audience were left captivated and in awe of her incredible versatility as she climbed and performed on the pole with a performance that wouldn’t be out of place in the world’s best circuses. One particular drop made my stomach turn as she dropped from the top of the pole, catching it just shy of the ground.

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The evening’s compere was George Orange who’s crazy antics left the audience either in fits of laughter, utter confusion or completely horrified (Why did I open my mouth and reveal my phobia of frogs?). His version of the film ‘Vertigo’ was very hit and miss – at times making you wonder if the mistakes were deliberate or accidental. George’s most notable performance however was in a dance/contortion piece based on ‘The Trouble With Harry’. His flexibility and convincing ability to ‘play dead’ meant that the two other performers  could drag his body around, fold him up, dance with him, and whatever else one might be tempted to do with a body!

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The performance was interspersed with semi-convincing lip syncs to real interviews with cast members of Hitchcock’s films.  In particular there was an interesting piece, in which cast member Joe Wild perfectly lip sync’s to an interview with Kim Novak. Cue ‘Hitchcock’s Leading Ladies’ – a hilarious dance routine by the cast and crew.

Later in the show we see a rather distasteful stripper routine. Personally I felt this let the show down, it was unnecessary and arguably disrespectful. For a production that seemed to be celebrating the works of Hitchcock it seemed totally bizarre to include such a scene that to me undermined the whole production. It should be mentioned that this scene seemed to be like marmite – there were clearly audience members who loved this moment.

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The production ended with a very evocative and cleverly devised piece based on perhaps Hitchcock’s most iconic scene – the shower scene from ‘Psycho’. I won’t say much about it as I don’t want to spoil it – but it really is good!  If I had to rate this show I would be generous and give it 4 stars, whilst I thoroughly enjoyed it there were lots of things I could comment on to bring it down from perfect 5.

I mentioned earlier – if sharp and polished performance is your bag then ‘Hitch’ may not be for you. They were brave tackling a concept that was ambitious, however, Mary Bijou created an interesting and on the whole, well executed show. It did have its faults, and some of them were epic, but generally these almost added to the enjoyment of the show. It is indeed the danger and thrill of live performance that gives this piece its unbeatable charm (minus naked Hitchcock scene).

Review by Gareth Pahl

Hitch! is currently on tour – find forthcoming dates on the Mary Bijou Facebook page

All photographs by Tom Beardshaw (license: Creative Commons attribution)


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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.

“Over the last 25 years, the Sherman has been a part of my life” – Katherine


I’ve lived in Cardiff for 42 years. So in thinking of a place that felt special to me, I had lots of choices. I love Donkey beach in Penarth, a secret little place under Penarth cliffs that my Nan and Gramps took me and my sister when we were little. I love the sea around Cardiff Bay and the docks. Bute Park, Roath Park, Victoria Park. Cardiff has good parks. I like sitting on Platform 7 on Central Station looking over to the Brains Brewery sign and the smell of the hops. I could have talked about lots of places that make Cardiff my home but I really wanted to talk about a place that has been part of my life for the last 25 years and I hope will continue to be so for the next 25 – Cardiff’s Sherman Cymru.

My first visit to the then Sherman Theatre was in 1985. I was 15 and had come on a school trip arranged by the English department to see Macbeth. I remember having to sit within hands reach of my teacher because my concentration wasn’t great and it was long. I was bored and fidgeting and desperately wanting to get back on the bus. When it ended I was relieved.

The next time I came to the Sherman was in 1987. I was being interviewed for a administration placement on a government Y.T.S. Scheme. I had left school with no qualifications to speak of so my choices were limited. I remember there was a matinee on. As I was lead backstage and down to the administration offices, various characters passed me by covered in copious amounts of blood, running from one side of stage to the other, backstage calls sounded out and dressing room doors opened briefly exposing a mixture of discarded costumes and everyday clothes. A blood curdling scream echoed through the maze of backstage corridors as I met the General Manager, ‘Sweeny Todd’ she smiled, ushering me in.

I began my placement the following week and my relationship with The Sherman Theatre began.

My placement was only for a year or so and as the end of the scheme approached I was dreading having to leave I felt like I’d found somewhere that I fitted. A permanent job came up in the finance department and I was offered the chance to stay. Although I worked in administration I spent all the time I could with the production team. I often volunteered to work on productions for the experience and did a lot of work for the Youth Theatre productions. It started to dawn on me that my heart was in the more creative roles in theatre and so after seven years I left the Sherman Theatre and went to Welsh College to train to be a Stage Manager.

Over the last 25 years or so the Sherman has been a part of my life. I’ve worked there and experienced making and watching some great theatre. This year Sherman Cymru are producing a play I’ve written called ‘Before It Rains’ and so my relationship with the building continues.

I couldn’t be prouder.

Katherine Chandler’s first play was a musical comedy called The Bankrupt Bride that was produced by Theatr na n’Óg in 2009 and toured nationally. She has had a long-standing relationship with the company and her play We Need Bees, a children’s play for the under-sevens, is currently on tour. As a writer, she has also had short plays produced by Dirty Protest and Spectacle Theatre. In 2011 one of her plays was selected by Pentabus Theatre as their We Are Here 2011 winning script and was developed in association with Sherman Cymru. Katherine is the recipient of an Arts Council Wales grant to write a new female-led comedy and is under commission from National Theatre Wales to develop a new piece of work with them. In early 2013 Katherine will be on a studio attachment at the National Theatre (England). Before It Rains runs at Sherman Cymru between 25 September – 6 October 2012. Katherine currently lives in Penarth.

Katherine was photographed at Sherman Cymru by Jon Pountney



“It has been a city of firsts for me” – Claire


When my granddad left Wales at 16 to rejoin the rest of his family up north avoiding the pits and the trade his fatherʼs, and grandfatherʼs, I donʼt think he imagined he would have family members settling in his home country again. Till his final days he remembered the lighthouse at Roath Park Lake, Christmas shopping at the market and cakes and tea in David Morgan and still when he would stumble over my name and what I did for a living, he would remember I was the one who was now living back in Wales.

Cardiff held a place in his heart, and memory, long after other aspects faded, and I know how he feels.

It was a Sunday night with the rain pelting down when I first set foot in Cardiff after the endlessly train journey from Newcastle to Walesʼ capital. After trudging round the city for ages looking for somewhere decent for food (Cardiff was different in 2002 with no restaurant or piazza cafe sections just a Walkabout and closed shops) we stumbled into Toucan Club. Squashed between dubious clubs and chain bars on St Mary Street, it wasnʼt the venueʼs first incarnation, neither was it its last, and the bar had a lot of work to do. My first impressions werenʼt great and if all went well with the job trial the next day this city could be my new home. It was the Toucan that made helped make my mind up, and I wonder if I had fallen into one of the other bars on the street if my decision might have changed.

From Newcastle to university at Manchester, I was looking to start my career at the Western Mail, with a small monthly pay packet and the initial premise of six months on permanent night shift. Well offers like that donʼt come round every day! So I packed my bags, bunked in one half of a friendʼs double bed for a month before finally settling into my new life in Cardiff.

In many ways it has been a city of firsts for me. From the first time I lived in a house that had a banana tree and a boat in the front garden – the best house on Elm Street – to the first time I learnt to run for fun, not something I had considered until Bute Park came calling.

As the months turned into years, the city evolved and changed around me and I have also not stood still. Iʼve been the arts reporter living in Barfly and Clwb till the early hours hanging onto to every note bands played, partying hard, staying at house parties till well past their sell by date squeezing every last drop out of them. Iʼve changed careers and started ventures with friends I never imagined, putting on new plays with Dirty Protest and feeling huge pride as people squeeze into Yurts, bars and warehouses practically sitting on strangerʼs laps to see theatre. And Iʼve settled down, happily drinking earl grey tea and getting in an early night to make the most of the weekend.

Best friends have come and gone from the city, and each time I wonder how I will start again. But I am always surprised. The city has a way of putting new people in your path, some who will stick for a lifetime, others for the moment. Now Cardiff is where I have actual roots, with a partner, a shack of a house that is being slowly remodeled and a garden which is starting to bloom.

But wherever I go or whatever I do, Cardiff will always mean these things to me – pots of tea and the Archers in Elm Street with Eluned, Moloko on late weeknights and early morning Splott Market with Nicki, coffee and boy watching with Fi in Shot, Western Mail nights out, wrap parties with the best of Core, wrestling the X-Box from D, wild nights with Jess, endless gigs and giggles with Gemma, cinema trips, ripping houses to bits, and hot chocolate over Roath Lake with Steve, running training with Lou in Bute Park, getting Dirty with Tim, El, Mared and Catrin and a whole host of others in the Yurt, circus fun and party nights with Ellie, putting the world to rights with Siriol and the beginnings of fun times with Dolly and Lals and cakes, Catan and Gilmore Girls.

I hope thatʼs the start of a very long list and that just like my Grandad the happy times in this city will stick for a lifetime.

Claire Hill currently works as a director in television, and divides spare time being film reviewer for BBC Radio Wales Evening Show, one quarter of Dirty Protest, jewellery maker, official silencer of talkers in Cineworld, excellent cake baker and enthusiastic cyclist. She currently lives in Splott.

Claire was photographed in the Milgi garden by Adam Chard