A black comedy incorporating masks, dance, hip-hop culture, rock and rhyme in a masquerade, makes its debut performance at Wales Millennium Centre next week. RATS (Rose Against The System) follows the story of The Butetown Rats who have been planning the takeover of Cardiff Bay for generations and now it is time to unveil their plans. Starring as the young Rat is Welsh actress, Danielle Fahiya.
In the first part of Entertainment South Wales Q&A, Danielle discusses her role in the new production and what lead her to become an actress.
How did you get into acting?
Performance for me came naturally at a very young age. I grew up in a house that was filled with dance, music and regular weekends were spent watching classic movies like ‘White Heat’ with James Cagney.
My Mum loved to dance and it was clear from a young age that rhythm was in my bones, so my Mum enrolled me in Ballroom classes aged 3. From there I expanded my skills and took on tap, modern, urban dance and a few years later found my feet and love for singing and acting.
I trained classically as a singer and joined Sherman Youth Theatre where I took part in various shows including ‘Crackers Christmas’ with the late great Brian Hibbard. Growing up as an only child I really found that acting gave me a world of characters to play with and I was never bored as I was always rehearsing, practicing and preparing for shows. I discovered very quickly the connection with the audience and how exhilarating and alive that made me feel and still to this day that feeling never gets old.
You took a slight detour away from the acting world into the world of politics- how did that happen?
Having missed a lot of my first few years of high school due to acting, I fell behind and spent the latter part of my teenage years focusing on the academic side of me. I decided that acting was part of my DNA and would always be there, so whilst I was young enough wouldn’t it be great to study a subject that influences the entire world and parts of your life you do not even realize.
I studied Modern History and Politics at Cardiff Metropolitan University and worked for a few months after graduating, for the Labour Party. I do think that politics and acting in some respects are quite similar and there are politicians whose orating skills are of such high calibre they could be speaking Shakespeare! Also as an actor you must make your audience believe in you and what you are saying to give your character credibility; likewise, a politician has to make you believe in their promises and policies to gain your vote. Needless to say, the people I met during my political stint certainly gave me plenty of material that I can hopefully use one day in a role.
How did RATS- Rose Against The System come to be created?
It started off as an animation and has been in development for the past 3 years with 20 minute showings after every research and development period. The show is the brainchild of artist Kyle Legall who was an artist in residence with National Theatre Wales in their inaugural year. The essence of the story is about the community Butetown and the gentrification and redevelopment that it has faced over the years. We see the theme of identity be at the narrative’s core as the community being represented as the underdog, (the rat characters) try to find a place in the redeveloped Cardiff Bay.
Can you tell us a bit about your character?
The story is told from the perspective of my character as she begins to navigate her way from her home into the new Cardiff Bay. According to her family’s traditions and initiation, she is sent on a mission to find her name and to do so has to steal something not edible from the humans and whatever that will be will become her name.
My character is all about identity and finding her place in society and as a young person myself, I know how difficult it can be to find your purpose in life; as the world is changing politically and socially all the time and that can sometimes be a daunting task. It was really that understanding of how identity and purpose forms a big part of how confident you are of your place in the world that made me want to take on this role.
RATS (Rose Against The System) is a Kyle Alonzo Legall creation, supported by the Arts Council of Wales and the Wales Millennium Centre. It runs at the Wales Millennium Centre from June 2-3 at 8pm on both evenings and a matinee performance on June 3, at 1.30pm.
Main Photo of Danielle Fahiya is by Claire Cousin
Check back tomorrow for the second part of our Q&A with Danielle