The idea of the show came about when myself and Jesse Briton, the director of ‘Hiraeth’ were working on a show called ‘Bound’ by Bear Trap Theatre Company. Jesse was writer and director, and I was the designer of the show. Never in my dreams would I imagined performing in a show, let alone a show about my own life! But Jesse had a different idea. He was particularly interested in how uncomfortable I was talking about my home, the family’s farm, and the tradition I was breaking. He, and many of my friends had no idea the guilt I felt in leaving the farm, and how even 3 years into my degree, I still wasn’t sure whether I should have left the farm. After persisting with ‘the joke’, he finally decided he was going to take it seriously, and spend the next couple of months convincing me it was a good idea for me to tell a bunch of strangers night after night about my life.
At the point when I was not receiving any work in London as a designer, assistant, runner or even a waitress I decided I had nothing to lose and gave it a go, with Jesse directing and Max Mackintosh performing and devising with me. They both taught me everything I needed to know to step on stage and it turns out a lot of it is allowing yourself to be a fool! After a series of R&Ds with Lyric Hammersmith, Wales Millennium Centre’s Incubator Project and funding from Arts Council Wales, we got our ‘big break’ when we won the IdeasTap Underbelly Fringe 2014 award. To be honest, we applied for it last minute, with not much confidence – we we’re applying for something UK-wide against hundreds of other great ideas. But, somehow we got it!
The award allowed us to take the show up to Edinburgh Fringe, and without it would not have been possible for us to do it financially. We received support from IdeasTap and Underbelly on selling the show and getting national press in. Having the national press coming to review a small show by a small unknown company like us was invaluable, as I’m sure many have experienced the difficulty of getting them to Wales. Having great reviews from these papers really propelled us forward and made us stand out. Venue programmers came to see the show and without this month, we really wouldn’t have had this much ongoing life of the show!
Our intention with this show was to make it inclusive, but always with the focus to tour it around rural areas of the UK. The communities who often don’t get to see theatre very often, or feel that theatre is not for them. I know of these communities and they’re idea of theatre because I grew up in one and used to think theatre was not for me. This has always driven me to ensure the show goes to rural communities and for us to really give them a proper good night out. This is where we had the idea of adding a ‘twmpath’ to the end of the show.
So, since Autumn 2014, we have been touring around Wales and now the UK ending the nights with a night of getting the whole audience up to dance, talk, drink and have fun! Max on guitar and David Grubb (a new addition to the cast since the idea of the twmpath came along!) on the fiddle, Tom Ayres our touring production manager on drums and myself at the mic calling the dances. We really love doing these twmpaths and it really is a great way for us to meet the people who shared their village hall with us and allow them to see that theatre isn’t just about sitting and watching.
We have exciting things to look forward to as a company. We’ll be taking Hiraeth to New Zealand for two months of touring around festivals and village halls in the Autumn. Another opportunity that came out of Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and a way to connect with rural communities the other side of the world which have so much in common with us. We are also currently developing our next show, which is about Frank Thomas’s life. Frank is an incredibly talented spoken word artist and actor, but spends most of his time working in a factory in West Wales. We can’t wait to develop it further and taking this show around Wales, the UK and who knows where else!
‘Hiraeth’ is currently touring across the UK and finishing in Sherman Theatre, Cardiff on Saturday 6th of June where the crew will also be doing a ‘Twmpath’ after the show.
Tuesday 21st April 2015: 7.30pm: Neuadd Dwyfor, Stryd Penlan, Pwllheli, Gwynedd. LL53 5DE (Twmpath)
Thursday 23rd April 2015: 7.30pm: The Miner’s, Wind Street, Ammanford, SA18 3DN
Friday 24th April 2015: 7.30pm: The Ffwrnes, Park Street, Llanelli SA15 3YE
Monday 27th April 2015: 7.30pm: Bikeshed Theatre, 162-3 Fore Street, Exeter, Devon, EX4 3AT
Wednesday 6th May 2015: 7.30pm: New Deer Public Hall, Church Crescent, New Deer, AB53 6WD (Twmpath)
Friday 8th May 2015: 7.30pm: Tullynessle & Forbes hall, Tullynessle, Alford, AB33 8QN (Twmpath)
Saturday 9th May 2015: 8.00pm: Johnshaven Village Hall, Johnshaven DD10 0HB (Twmpath)
Sunday 10th May 2015: 7.30pm: Crathes Village Hall, Crathes, AB31 5JD (Twmpath)
Thursday 14th May 2015: 7.30pm: Newport Mem Hall, West Street, Newport, Pembs. SA42 0TD (Twmpath)
Friday 15th May 2015: 7.30pm: Theatr Felinfach, Felinfach, Lampeter (Twmpath)
Saturday 16th May 2015: 7.00pm: Gwynfe Community Hall, Capel Gwynfe, Llangadog, Dyfed SA19 9RD (Twmpath)
Thursday 21st – Saturday 23rd May 2015: 8.00pm (21st) / 7.30pm (22nd and 23rd): Otherplace at the Basement, 24 Kensington St, Brighton BN1 4AJ
Monday 25 May 2015: 7.30pm: Rhossili Village Hall, Rhossili, Swansea SA3 1PL (Twmpath)
Wednesday 27th May 2015: 6.00pm: Parc Cwm Darran Visitor centre, Deri, Bargoed CF81 9NR (Twmpath)
Friday 29th May 2015: 7.30pm: Hafren, Llanidloes Road, Newtown, SY16 4HU
Friday 5th June 2015: TBC: Pulse Festival, The New Wolsey Theatre, Civic Drive, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 2AS (Twmpath)
Saturday 6th June 2015: TBC: Sherman Theatre. Senghennydd Road, Cathays, Cardiff, CF24 4YE (Twmpath)
Photography Jorge Lizalde