Performance: Performers aged 14-25 on the New Theatre stage presenting an exuberant, visually striking variety show created in an intense week of mentoring from industry professionals. Young musicians, dancers, actors and writers working in collaboration with the New Theatre, Arts Active, Earthfall Dance, Community Music Wales, Literature Wales and other experienced arts practitioners to create an experimental, genre-defying show. Punctuated with routines from young performers at No Fit State Circus, and directed by the award-winning James Williams (Flown, Hitch, My Life in CIA).
Over the weekend, I had the chance to see a group of young people who put together the show Performance:
I know how important it is to nurture new talent and to get kids involved in the arts, getting them to express themselves to the best of their abilities.
The three dozen or so young artists participated in around 20 pieces in five categories – music, spoken word, circus, dance and design. They did a good job for the most part with their material, considering their amount of prep time (which was less than a week).
Bethan Marsh, who informed the audience she only had three hours to prepare her skit, was a natural. She was entertaining and funny recounting a night-time train trip home and was confident and comfortable onstage. The girls accompanying her on ukuleles were a treat. I liked Natasha Barton also with a recital, and Joel Dixon, oboe player, serenaded the crowd with an Egyptian-sounding tune. She was sassy and had attitude. Always good to have!
These same girls were joined by others intensely asking for justice for asylum seekers who had their appeals rejected and faced deportation and death. They were also singing about violence and hate crimes against the LGBT community. Very uplifting with their ‘life gets better together’ message! A monologue of wandering by the water and needing affection came off well, too.
Singer Becki Holder also sang solo and had a winning voice (but not the best of songs). She seemed nervous, but I put that down to not having enough rehearsal time and perhaps not being in the spotlight before. The female background singers were wonderful. Enchanting and harmonious.
The juggling duo, Catrin Chandler and Bronwen Evans, weren’t quite perfect but had nice chemistry and mime interaction. Keyboardist Dylan Tilley, playing a vaudeville-type tune, was great! The aerial silk acrobats, Molly Richmond and Mandy Rose, were very graceful, adept – and brave!– executing their climbs, wraps and drops. I can see them all advancing in a circus.There was promise with the modern dance couple Amber Howells and Luke Morrissey and their ‘fight and make-up’ duet, but it would have been good to see more technique and variation.
The best part of Performance: came at the mid-point: the whole cast gathered onstage exclaiming “beauty was in the eye of the beholder” and “people you meet can change your life without even trying.” And the band was up-tempo! Now, I liked the musicians. They did some very jazzy stuff. They all were skillful, but several times it sounded like they were playing behind the beat. Was that intentional? I caught the lead and rhythm guitarists getting some good jams on between themselves a few times. Flutist Verity Black was excellent! I believe the same young man, Joel Dixon, did triple-duty on saxophone, flute and oboe. I think he wanted to go faster and breakout on that sax like Eric Dolphy maybe and surprise us all! Wish he did!
Black and white drawings hoisted up were cleverly done. I would have liked to have gotten a better look at them. I don’t know what was up with that lobster (?) getup coming out at the end. Someone let me know, ok?