James Ellis: Charles Manson, St Teilo & The Big Snake: Everything Changes

May 30, 2018 by

It was with great delight to discover we had been announced as the opening act for our own Cardiff Fringe this year. There have been some concerning discussions about diversity lingering in the arts in Wales recently. What better way to quash those arguments then by working with a variety of people from all types of art forms? 

Bevin Magama is a familiar face here in Cardiff. Having escaped from Zimbabwe nearly 20 years ago, he now calls Wales home and has made a real name for himself. Any one who sees him tell stories and folklore from his native country, is usually beaming and filled with awe. I felt this on the two occasions I had been blessed to see him live. 

The last time we met before planning our show, I said we should work together and I was unsure if anything would ever come of it. I am very glad it has. The idea behind Everything Changes (named after one of his classic tales) is the universal theme of oral storytelling which exists in many cultures across the world. Bevin lives and breathes these stories, some of them his own creation, most being heavily inspired by his homeland.

Being the artsy sort I am, I wondered what could I bring to the table? Stories from Celtic nations was the original scope, though I soon honed this to stories from Wales. This land of song is also honoured with beautiful stories, going back centuries. Granted the great Mabingoi tales have been frequently reimagined over recent years, I wanted to bring stories together that locals might not know of.

Knowing me, my side of the show would also incorporate some performance art elements. An improvised section on the tricks of highwayman Twm Sion Cati, is juxtaposed with the cross dressing tale of budding archer Ellen Gethin (my version of the story is in verse). A new work of writing of my own called Summit, sees the forces of man verses magic, as he visits an oracle who might/might not guide him through life. Another tale tries to compare the death of St Teilo with the recent demise of serial killer Charles Manson. Curious? Then you should certainly come along.

After both shows, I’m going to sit down and have a one to one with Bevin. We plan to discuss his new book: Dreaming All Things Great (you can buy it on Amazon now), recently visiting Zimbabwe after many years away and what it means to be an artist in the 21st Century.

We do hope you can join us! 

Everything Changes is on at Aj’s Coffee House, part of Cardiff Fringe Festival on 31st May/1st June 2018.


@weepingtudor @cardiff_fringe @bevin_magama

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