Family and festival audiences across Wales and beyond are in for a treat this Summer as Taking Flight Theatre Company hit the road for the first time in four years with a series of outdoor and indoor shows.
Taking in locations from the beautiful Singleton Park in Swansea, to the wonderful Galeri in Caernarfon, via country parks in Carmarthenshire and Bridgend and arts centres in Bangor and Mold, this tour of four different shows and two different workshops hopes to help families across the country get out and enjoy accessible, fun theatre close to home.
Artistic Director of Taking Flight, Elise Davison explains: “All of our Summer shows this year are FUN, they have been devised with a heavy clowning influence and silliness is the order of the day.
“The performances are very physical, and visual in their storytelling. They will have integrated BSL (at least one of the performers will use British Sign Language throughout – one of our actors Steph Bailey Scott is Deaf and BSL is her language. The Flying Squad and Honour & Cherish are practically wordless, using physical clowning and mime for their storytelling instead of words.
“The scripts of The Conjurer of Cwrtycadno and First Three Drops/Tri Diferyn Cyntaf have integrated age-appropriate Audio Description, so the actors describe how they look and what they are doing as they do it in a way that is fun and engaging and includes any blind or partially sighted audience members. We have been using this method for some years now, and sighted audiences very quickly adapt to the technique and enjoy what it adds to the show.”
The Conjurer of Cwrtycadno
The first performances in the tour take place today in Swansea with Taliesin Arts Centre presenting The Conjurer of Cwrtycadno in the atmospheric surroundings of Singleton Park’s ornamental garden. Part treasure hunt, part theatre production, The Conjurer of Cwrtycadno is an accessible adventure for families.
Whilst researching her ancestry in the National Library of Wales a young woman named Heledd Harries discovered a book of incantations by her Great Great Great Great Grandfather. Heledd knew nothing of the magic in her blood or the trouble she was about to cause by unleashing the power of the Welsh spells contained within the pages on the book. Now she needs the help of local families to get hundreds of bewildered Tylwyth Teg home. This enchanting tale, the second in Taking Flight & LAStheatre’s Department of Strange Events series (the first was the lockdown inspired Curious Case of Aberlliw) is a celebration of Welsh folklore, magic and the changing of the seasons. After watching a short intro show, audiences go off in search of fairy houses along an accessible trail route where they must discover which fairy belongs in which house.
The Conjurer of Cwrtycadno visits Swansea, Bangor, Pembrey, Ystradgynlais and Aberystwyth.
First Three Drops / Tri Diferyn Cyntaf
The second piece in the company’s repertoire this summer is First Three Drops or Tri Diferyn Cyntaf. Also drawing on Welsh folklore, this piece, based on the legend of Taliesin by Elis Gruffydd, was originally created to be performed live over Zoom during the first Covid lockdown. Thanks to funding from Arts Council Wales to develop this new series of productions, writer/director Elise was able to revisit the script and adapt it for performance on stage both in theatres and outdoor spaces. As many of the core cast for the tour are bilingual, the company is touring it in both English and Welsh with many locations offering a show in each language.
In the play, Wales most powerful sorceress Ceridwen resorts to magic to help mould her son Morfran into the conscientious maths loving student she’d hoped he would be, with a side order of power, beauty and all-encompassing knowledge. Things don’t go to plan when Ceridwen leaves Gwion, her Morfran’s best friend, in charge of stirring her potion and mayhem ensues as Gwion goes on the run before eventually fulfilling his destiny as Taliesin the Bard. With shape-shifting, sorcery and plenty silliness, First Three Drops is billed as a funny and magical story of adventure.
First Three Drops/Tri Diferyn Cyntaf tours to Caernarfon, Harrogate, Bryngarw, Felinfach, Merthyr, Cardiff and Ystradgynlais.
The Flying Squad + Honour & Cherish
The Flying Squad and Honour & Cherish are both moveabout festival pieces. The Flying Squad’s hapless detectives have a crime to solve, but all eye-witness accounts lead them to only one conclusion – the culprit is one of their own. Will they solve the crime, will they get back to the station before lunch, and most importantly, was there even a crime to solve? Fun, slapstick and audience participation abound. The detectives are on tour in Mold, Newport and at the National Eisteddfod.
In Honour & Cherish, unsuspecting audiences meet bride, a groom and an interfering mother-in-law to be. The couple fall in, out and back in love with more than a little help from the groom’s mother. There WILL be a wedding, and there will most certainly be cake. The trio will be entertaining visitors to the national Eisteddfod in Meirionydd.
The professional cast for all four productions features Jenna Preece, Stephanie Bailey-Scott, Sam Bees, Macsen McKay, Gethin Roberts and Ioan Gwyn.
Behind all the silly antics and clowning, lies a company on a very serious mission to make theatre more accessible for audiences and performers alike. Taking Flight Theatre Company takes risks with creative access to make bold, unusual theatre productions with Deaf, disabled, neurodivergent and non-disabled performers. Their work tours Wales and beyond and they often find themselves in out of the way places, as well as traditional theatre venues.
Alongside their touring work, they nurture the next generation of Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent talent, both on stage & behind the scenes. They do this through running inclusive professional training courses & mentoring schemes for people who identify as Deaf, neurodivergent or disabled & are looking for the next step into a career in theatre, or to develop existing skills & build confidence.
With 15 years’ experience, they’ve become the “go to” organisation in Wales for advice, information or inspiration on integrating access & working with inclusive casts. Taking Flight also runs Wales’ only youth theatre for Deaf and hard of hearing young people. Find out more at www.takingflighttheatre.org.uk
Taking Flight Theatre Company Touring Schedule 2023
First Three Drops
1st July Galeri
26th July Bryngarw Country Park
28th July Theatr Felinfach
29th July Theatr Soar
31st July/1st August Cardiff Story Museum
14th August The Welfare Ystradgynlais
Conjurer of Cwrtycadno
24th June Taliesin
8th July Pontio
4th August The Welfare Ystradgynlais
22nd August Pembrey Country Park
30th August Aberystwyth Arts Centre
The Flying Squad
8th July Theatr Clwyd
23rd July The Big Splash Newport
9th August Eisteddfod Genedlaethol
Honour & Cherish
8th August Eisteddfod Genedlaethol
26th & 27th July Cardiff Story Museum
21st August The Welfare Ystradgynlais