I was born and bred in Cardiff. I remember when Hayes Island was the last outpost in town. Toys’r’Us & The Vulcan were still standing, and St David’s 2 was just a twinkle in Cardiff Council’s eye.
Cardiff’s changed since then. Spillers has moved, we’ve got a new library, Hotel Chocolat, a Burger & Lobster – “the first one outside of London!” – and we’ve got pub theatre. The first one in Wales.
Now well in to her first season, having had her first successes and first broadsheet favourables; The Other Room presents her first piece of new writing. It’s her first bilingual production, first full-length play for Alun Saunders, and for our young cast (James Ifan, GSA and Dorian Simpson, RWCMD) it’s their first stage outing.
A Good Clean Heart follows two life-changing days for Jay & Hefin, two brothers raised apart. The play has a personal resonance for Alun Saunders who is currently swimming the adoption system himself. A multi-faceted piece, it touches on different topics for different people, strokes for folks. It’s some of the questions about the link between identity and nationality that intrigue me most. Having been living away from God’s Own Country for several years now, I have at times found my own sense of self wandering, astray (or un-tethered?). Being raised both Cardiff and Welsh-speaking – meaning I can speak both, but neither of ’em well, bach – I’ve had a tangible high water mark to measure myself against. The longer I let the gaps get between ringing Mam to say, “Helo”; the longer it takes me to remember to Welsh word for ‘cooperate’ or ‘whirlwind’. That’s one of the reasons I’m pleased to cydweithio with Mared Swain on this troellwynt.
As well as self-evaluation and looking deep in to our collective psyches, we’ve also been working. It’s been a busy few weeks up til now, and busier still to come. My official role might be Assistant Director, but so far I’ve also been Assistant Script Editor, Assistant Translator, Assistant Painter and now I suppose, Assistant Promoter too. I get to start playing with technical things now too, which is exciting, as one of the initial attractions for me coming on to the production was some of the innovative video work. Zakk Hein (fresh from Treasure Island at the National) is bringing a different dimension to bi/multilingual theatre, beyond what we’ve experienced before, and not just in Wales; elevating surtitling beyond simple translation, to a unique visual language.
As we approach our last week of rehearsal, sets are being built, lights focused, lines learnt, and I find myself feeling very pleased to be, in a small way, involved with Wales’ first pub theatre.
Jac Ifan Moore, Assistant Director of A Good Clean Heart by Alun Saunders
A Good Clean Heart opens at The Other Room at Porter’s on Tuesday 28 April and runs until Saturday 16 May. For more information and to book tickets, visit www.otherroomtheatre.com