A new collaboration, Y Consortiwm Cymraeg has been set up by award-winning Theatr na nÓg and three venues to present high-quality accessible Welsh language theatre. They also aim to produce a programme of participation for communities to improve their language skills and engage in arts and culture on their doorstep.
Theatr Soar in Merthyr Tydfil, The Welfare in Ystradgynlais and Maesteg Town Hall have joined forces with Theatr na nÓg to rekindle the vitality and value of their venues to their communities. The new Consortiwm is supported by the Arts Council of Wales’ Connect and Flourish Fund. As cultural centres have faced lockdown, the need for these creative hubs in their communities is even greater, not just to help safeguard the future of Welsh language in the valleys, but to support a thriving valley community beyond the Covid Pandemic.
Geinor Styles, Theatr na nÓg’s artistic director explained why this initiative is so important at this time ” If we want to hit the Welsh Government’s target of a million Welsh speakers by 2050, it is vital that we support all the elements that contribute to the regeneration of our language and culture, and these venues are the key to that success.
“It felt like a natural partnership for Theatr na nÓg to collaborate with three community theatres, all three are and have been vital contributors in supporting culture and the Welsh language in their areas.
“Our shared vision is not only to co-produce theatre to develop audiences but also to devise a programme of local community engagement. Our collaboration also puts us in a strong position to be prepared to revive these areas once lockdown lifts, and we start breathing life back into these towns post-COVID.”
Consortiwm announce staging of Shirley Valentine
Although there is still uncertainty of when the venues will reopen, the Consortiwm are looking forward with optimism as they announce their first collaboration, which will be a translation and adaptation of the classic comedy Shirley Valentine written by Willy Russell. Translated originally by Manon Eames, this version sees Shirley transported from Liverpool to South Wales. A popular theatrical hit when it opened at the Aberystwyth Eisteddfod in 1994, it is certain to draw audiences back to the venues.
Olivier Award winning actor and director of Chichester Festival Theatre Daniel Evans said of the collaboration: “Once again Theatr na nÓg proves that they have the resilience to withstand the tough blows that have been handed to the arts industry throughout the pandemic. I think this is down to not just thinking of their own success, but by looking at the role they play in the community, they’ve seen that they can help make a difference. Working in collaboration and partnership with Soar, The Welfare and Maesteg Town Hall they can genuinely help the community to re-build and flourish.
“They’ve also seen the importance that the Welsh language plays in their community and that by working in partnership they can bring new and old audiences to the venues that can once again be the backbone of the community.
“I’m encouraged too that the Arts Council of Wales is supporting such ventures and partnerships, the fact that they see the importance in safeguarding Welsh language arts in our communities bodes well for our future.”
Consortiwm’s adaptation of Shirley Valentine is scheduled to tour to the Consortiwm venues and the rest of Wales in September 2021, opening in Soar Merthyr. To sign up to updates go to www.theatr-nanog.co.uk