The Arts Council of Wales is excited to announce the 2019 This Is Wales showcase at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Previously known as ‘Wales in Edinburgh’, the programme is made up of ground-breaking Welsh companies working across theatre, dance and circus. From young companies to established powerhouses such as National Theatre Wales and Theatr Clwyd, the enticing variety of This is Wales demonstrates the depth and breadth of shows currently being made in Wales and how this reflects a modern, diverse country.
Curated by an external panel for the first time, the aim of the programme is to introduce Fringe audiences to the thriving Welsh theatrical scene while also helping the programmed companies to expand their creative networks. In previous years, the ‘Wales in Edinburgh’ programme featured numerous productions that since subsequently achieved international critical acclaim. These included the Sherman Theatre’s Iphigenia in Splott (2015) and No Fit State Circus’s Bianco.
The eleven-show programme includes three plays produced by Theatr Clwyd: On the Other Hand, We’re Happy by Daf James, Daughterhood by Charley Miles, and Dexter and Winter’s Detective Agency by Nathan Byron. Led by Artistic Director Tamara Harvey, Theatr Clwyd are the co-producers of Laura Wade’s Home, I’m Darling, winner of the 2019 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.
National Theatre Wales will also be represented by Alan Harris’s For All I Care. Originally created as part of the NTW’s ‘Love Letter to the NHS’ series celebrating the 70th anniversary of the NHS, the one-woman play juxtaposes the lives of a mental health nurse and the young woman she supports in a local hospital. Harris is the author of Sugar Baby, a Cardiff-set comedy that proved a hit with last year’s Fringe crowds.
The news in a nutshell
- The vibrant, multi-disciplinary programme features an immersive dance party to bring people together, live art about making the time to talk and a dualingual musical journey through the sounds of a nation.
- The curated programme runs alongside Seeding for the Future, an artist-focused initiative created to support Welsh theatre-makers in attending the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the first time
- For a sustainable Fringe, a partnership with Welsh climate change charity Size of Wales will help mitigate the carbon footprint of all productions
31 Jul – 25 Aug, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019, various venues.
Also representing the UK as part of the British Council’s Edinburgh Showcase, other works in This is Wales include Louder is Not Always Clearer by Mr & Mrs Clark and featuring Jonny Cotsen. The physical theatre work evocatively examines the vulnerability experienced by a deaf man.
Adding an immersive element to the programme are Swansea-based Volcano Theatre with their new show, The Populars, a four-person dance party created in response to the present state of the UK. Continuing the music-based theme is Bardd, made by Martin Daws (Young People's Laureate Wales 2013-16) and Mr Phormula (Double Wales Beatbox Champion). The dualingual global music fusion work uses live music and spoken word to provide a polyphonic snapshot of Wales’ musical history, from bardic roots to a freedom funk disco.
The power of forging human connections is explored in Neither Here Nor There by Jo Fong and Sonia Hughes with their live art piece that reminds us all to slow down and make time for a chat. This same theme is also taken up by Carys Eleri’s one-woman show about the neuroscience of love and loneliness, Lovecraft (Not the sex shop in Cardiff).
Providing insight into existing Welsh collaborations with artists of other nationalities, it will come later is created by iCoDaCo, a biennial intercultural project produced in the UK by Gwyn Emberton Dance, supported by the Creative Europe Programme of the EU, Wales Arts International and the Swedish Arts Council. Crystallising the importance of collaboration, the six-person work is performed on a revolving set lit to mimic the changing cycle of day into night. Each body pushes against the others, resulting in an undulating flow of limbs in dialogue with those around it.
Finally, the critically-acclaimed company Flossy and Boo will be bringing their family-friendly theatre show Ned and the Whale to The Space Tent at Symposium Hall. They tell the curious tale of Ned, a nervous boy trying to find his courage and discover the truth behind the mysterious Kingdom of Spies.
In addition to the showcase programme, This Is Wales will incorporate a new artistic development programme, Seeding for the Future, created to help emerging and established Welsh artists build their artistic networks by attending the Fringe. Participating artists will be selected through a public call-out and announced in due course. To maximise impact for both the showcase and Seeding for the Future, Arts Council of Wales will be working closely with in-house international agency, Wales Arts International and partners at British Council Wales and for the first time the Canadian High Commission.
Arts Council of Wales is also working in collaboration with Welsh climate change charity Size of Wales to help mitigate the programme’s carbon footprint. In keeping with the Welsh Government’s Well-being of Future Generations Act, the Arts Council of Wales is also committed to working with artists and partners who actively try to minimise their environmental impact.
Speaking about the collaboration, Size of Wales Director Elspeth Jones said “We are delighted to be partnering with the This is Wales showcase. The partnership will help support our work to protect tropical forests and restore tropical forest landscapes as part of Wales’ national response to climate change. These precious landscapes are a vital part of the climate change solution and we are delighted that This is Wales will be supporting this important work.”
Arts Council of Wales’ Arts Development Director, Sian Tomos said “Arts Council of Wales is incredibly proud to be presenting the 11 productions in the This is Wales showcase at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The range and variety of work on offer is testament to the talent that can be found in Wales. I hope the participating companies will find their time at the festival fruitful, growing audiences and making connections with artists and institutions from around the world.”
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The Arts Council of Wales is sponsored by Welsh Government and awards funds from The National Lottery