Theatr Pena: Ending on a high

February 20, 2019 by

Theatr Pena hoped that this autumn 2019 we would be celebrating the tenth anniversary of our first production, The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico Garcia Lorca, with a large-scale production of Lorca’s Blood Wedding.

But raising budgets for our particular work – even for less ambitious productions – has become increasingly difficult and we were unable to raise the budget we required for Blood Wedding. Left unable to stage another production until autumn 2020 and with no reserves with which to keep the Company going until then, doubtful we will be able to retain let alone build audiences after a two and half year absence from the touring circuit or ever successfully diversify our funding base and rely less on public subsidy, on Friday 8th February 2019 Theatr Pena’s Company Members voted in favour of Theatr Pena ceasing all activity.

Our Company was formed in 2008 by a group of friends with nothing but a shared love of classic plays and a determination to create opportunities in theatre for women. We’re proud that we have never strayed from our original intent. Seven of our eight Board Members and seven of our eight Company Members are women, our Artistic Director, Designer and Lighting Designer are women, our casts have been either all women or 50:50 and at the heart of each play we have chosen are female characters. Between 2009 and 2018 three Research & Development projects have given us the opportunity to explore and experiment and we have staged seven productions of great plays including translations, adaptations and most recently (spring 2018) a re-imagining of the Mabinogi tale of Blodeuwedd inspired by Saunders Lewis’s classic verse drama of the same name.

We have enjoyed the privilege of working with some of the best freelance theatre professionals in Wales. Together we have created productions which have been publicly and critically acclaimed and, although our productions have not been universally liked, we’re proud that our work has always been appreciated for its quality and artistic ambition.

We are indebted to all our colleagues – especially Ceri James and Megan Merrett – and to everyone who ever attended a performance, to the 21 venues in Wales we visited at least once if not with all four national touring productions, to our Supporters (Benefactors, Champions and Friends), to the Arts Council of Wales (for investing in our three R&D projects and five of our productions), to Curo Advisers Limited (for giving without question), to our critics and to every individual or organisation that championed and supported our work – you all have our sincere and heartfelt thanks.

This is not how we wanted to celebrate our tenth anniversary and although deeply saddened and disappointed that we can’t share with audiences across Wales our version of Blood Wedding (for which last summer’s R&D gave us the opportunity to lay such a wonderful foundation) we’re grateful for the opportunities we have been given.

We believe we still have something to offer theatre in Wales but sometimes circumstances are such that the only sensible course of action is to walk away, however reluctantly, leaving we hope “the audience wanting more”!

Ian Buchanan, Llinos Daniel, Erica Eirian, Emma Goad,
Kay Haynes, Buddug Verona James, Betsan Llwyd, Holly McCarthy,
Lisabeth Miles, Hannah O’Leary, Christine Pritchard, Olwen Rees,
Chris Ryde, Rosamund Shelley, Clêr Stephens, Eiry Thomas

February 2019


Betsan Llwyd, The House of Bernarda Alba, 2009.  Image: Dyfrig Morris


Morgan Llewelyn Cockram, Cler Stephens, Olwen Rees, Lisabeth Miles, The Trojan Women, 2010.    Image: Geraint Todd


Rosamund Shelley, The Maids 2012.  Image: Nicolas Young


Olwen Rees, The Maids. Image: Nicolas Young


Christine Pritchard, The Maids. Image: Nicolas Young


Buddug Verona James, Joe Corbett, musician, The Maids. Image: Nicolas Young


Christine Pritchard, The Killing of Sister George, 2014. Image: Holly McCarthy


Hannah O’Leary, The Killing of Sister George. Image: Holly McCarthy


Rosamund Shelley, The Killing of Sister George. Image: Holly McCarthy


Eiry Thomas, The Royal Bed, 2015. Image: Simon Gough


Hannah O’Leary, The Royal Bed. Image: Simon Gough


Eiry Thomas, The Royal Bed. Image: Simon Gough


Eiry Thomas, 2016, The Glass Menagerie. Image: Simon Gough


The Glass Menagerie, Eiry Thomas, Rhys Meredith, Rosamund Shelley, Gareth Pierce. Image: Simon Gough


Rosamund Shelley, The Glass Menagerie. Image: Simon Gough


Betsan Llwyd, Woman of Flowers, 2018. Image: Simon Gough


Olwen Rees and Sara Gregory, Woman of Flowers. Image: Simon Gough


Eiry Thomas, Woman of Flowers. Image: Simon Gough


Timothy Tate, Blood Wedding R&D, 2018. Image: Holly McCarthy


Buddug Verona James, Hannah O’Leary, Gemma Prangle, Rhys Meredith, Cêt Haf, Alex Marshall Parsons, Llinos Daniel, Rosamund Shelley, Blood Wedding R&D.  Image: Holly McCarthy


Cêt Haf and Alex Marshal Parsons, Blood Wedding R&D. Image: Holly McCarthy


Llinos Daniel, Rhys Meredith, Cêt Haf Blood Wedding  R&D, 2018. Image: Holly McCarthy


Cêt Haf, Blood Wedding R&D. Image: Holly McCarthy


Main image: Artistic Director Erica Eirian at the Wales Theatre Awards

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