Welsh theatre charity success with pioneering learning disabilities project in Lesotho


  • Four learning disabled actors with Down Syndrome travel nearly 9,000 miles across the globe to perform in small communities in Lesotho
  • Learning Disabled actors perform to over 2000 people, including staff from Mamohato Children’s Centre set up by Prince Harry
  • World Down Syndrome Day – 21 March 2018 signifies how people with Down’s Syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities

Award-winning theatre company, Hijinx, took a group of learning disabled actors and staff to tour the landlocked country of Lesotho from 10-25 of February, with a performance project called Able to Act.

Four professional actors with Down’s Syndrome from Hijinx’s performance training Academies in Wales undertook the trip – Justin Melluish, Gareth Clark, Laura Tilley and Victoria Walters.

Victoria Walters, one of the Hijinx actors who took part in the project said: “I have a disability and the trip to Lesotho has taught me that it’s important to share it with people”.

They partnered with four local drama students from the Machabeng International College to create a totally new piece of theatre, which was initially developed in the Hijinx Academies across Wales.

One the local theatre students, who acted in the performance piece said: “I’ve learnt to be more compassionate and accepting of people with disabilities, there is such a need for this project to continue in Lesotho and also start in other countries too.”

To view daily vlogs from the Able to Act Team Click Here

World Down Syndrome Day, 21 March, is a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. This year World Down Syndrome Day (#WDSD18) theme is #WhatIBringToMyCommunity. It aims to show how people with Down’s syndrome can and do make meaningful contributions throughout their lives.

Through the Able to Act project, Hijinx have been able to actively show communities in Lesotho its four actors with Down’s Syndrome working alongside local theatre students to create a piece of creative physical theatre, adding to the creative culture of the community and highlighting how they can improve their inclusive practices. This has been the key success to the project, measured in a testimonial from Mary Hlalele, who saw the performance in Machabeng, with the Senior Citizens Association of Lesotho:

“Inclusive theatre has taught us a great deal, about the value and beauty of diversity; you have taught us how to embrace differences with love, care and joy…. making our own lives more joyful and engulfed in love and beauty.  Reflecting on this gift you have exposed us to, has required us to do some deep introspection into how we relate to others who we regard as ‘different’. You have taught us the meaning of true unity.  As people we are already unified through breath, and as such, we therefore have no reason to embrace fear and anger; or to dwell on blame or judgement, when we notice differences in others.”

To view a gallery of images from the Lesotho trip Click Here

Performances were held across five locations throughout Lesotho, including the Mamohato Children’s Centre run by Sentebale – set up by Prince Seeiso and Prince Harry. Here the production was performed for staff from their disability department and the rest of the organisation who were undergoing disability awareness focus training.

Palesa Mphohle, Country Director for Sentebale said: “This was inclusion at it’s best. I’ve never seen such a wonderful performance as this before. It was really inspiring.”

With total audiences of over 2,000 people, ranging from church congregations and school children to the Senior Citizens Association of Lesotho, the impact the Hijinx Able to Act project had is not to be underestimated. Not simply through the performances, but also the drama workshops with learning disabled children at the orphanage, the four learning disabled actors building relationships with the local actors and also regularly going to the local shopping centre and cafes, visibly showing the local community people with learning disabilities doing everyday tasks.

Mamello Mokholokoe, who runs Phelisanong Orphanage, said: “All my life I have never watched an activity that has touched my life this way”.

The Able to Act project was made possible through funding from Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa programme through Hub Cymru Africa, the British Council, and in association with Machabeng International College and Dolen Cymru.

Walk with Me – Screening

Walk With Me (PG)

April 7 Ebrill

Presented by Quiet Earth 

Food served from 7pm

Film screening begins 8pm

£10 film only
£17 with food

Directed by Marc J. Francis and Max Pugh
Narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch

Running time | 94 minutes

With unprecedented access, ‘Walk With Me’ takes us deep inside the world-famous monastery of Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh, and captures the life of a monastic community who have given up all their possessions for one common purpose – to practice the art of mindfulness.
Filmed over three years, this visceral film is a meditation on a community determined to develop a deep sense of presence, not just for themselves but for all those they love.

As the seasons come and go, the monastics’ inner journey is amplified by insights from Thich Nhat Hanh’s early journals, narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Quiet Earth’s events always sell out. Booking is advisable and it would also help if you could do so in person or online before Friday 30 Marchso Rachel knows how many to cater for. Thank you.

Wales One World Film Festival

As WOW Film Festival enters its final 3 days in Aberystwyth, we look forward to the next stop on our journey around Wales: Cardiff’s Tramshed Cinema.

Have a Nice Day (15)

Thursday 22 March, 6.15pm, Tramshed Cinema
Politically and artistically fresh, this Tarantino-esque animated tale is like no Chinese film you have ever seen.

Sweet Country (15)

Thursday 22 March, 8.15pm, Tramshed Cinema
“Indigenous filmmakers, not only in Australia, now have a voice and the world is listening, because people want to hear a different opinion on the past, the present, and maybe even the future.”
– Warwick Thornton, director of Sweet Country and Samson and Delilah

Heavenly Nomadic (PG)

Friday 23rd March, 6.15pm, Tramshed Cinema
A beautiful tale about a disappearing way of life set high in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan.

The Gulls (15)

Friday 23 March, 8.15pm, Tramshed Cinema
Set among a fascinating mix of people and cultural traditions in the Buddhist European country of Kalmykia.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower

Saturday 24th March, 11am, Tramshed Cinema
A chance to see the magical debut from Japan’s Studio Ponoc.

Magical Animation Workshop

Saturday 24th March, 1pm, Tramshed Cinema
Run by Cardiff Animation Festival, this workshop is for everyone aged 8+

Big Fish & Begonia (PG)

Saturday 24th March, 3pm, Tramshed Cinema
A mind-blowingly beautiful Chinese anime that will sweep you up on a tidal wave of magic, mystery and wonder.

Beauty and the Dogs (15)

Saturday 24th March, 6.15pm, Tramshed Cinema
A film both specific to its Tunisian setting and yet altogether global in experience and reach, this powerful debut from a female voice takes a razorblade to misogyny.

Wajib (15)

Saturday 24th March, 8.15pm, Tramshed Cinema
A charismatic portrait of a father-son relationship and what it means to be a Palestinian abroad versus a Palestinian at home. Directed by Annemarie Jacir.

Festival Dates:

March/Mawrth 15 – 21
Canolfan y Celfyddydau Aberystwyth Arts Centre

March/Mawrth 15 – 29
Kinokulture, Oswestry/Croesoswallt

March/Mawrth 22 – 24
Tramshed Cinema, Cardiff/Caerdydd

April/Ebrill 3 – 12
Theatr Clwyd, Mold/Yr Wyddgrug


15 Years of the Unexpected

10–20 May, Bristol


Mayfest, Bristol’s festival of international theatre, announces its 2018 programme featuring over 20 shows from the very best theatre makers in Bristol, the UK and beyond. 

Mayfest is back, celebrating its 15th year of adventurous, thought-provoking theatre. Spilling out across the city, Mayfest playfully – and sometimes provocatively – champions extraordinary new work from artists with distinct voices, for audiences, whoever they are. From the classical architecture of St George’s to the nightclubs of Old Market, Mayfest invites you to come together, play along and take a moment to reflect. Artists from Canada, Japan and Australia offer opportunities for participation and exchange: Town Choir, Contact Gonzo and We Are Lightning! will all collaborate with talented performers and musicians from Bristol.

Festival highlights include the world premiere of The British Paraorchestra’s new work The Nature of Why, commissioned by Unlimited, who celebrate and support the work of disabled artists. Taking inspiration from the unconventional curiosity of Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, and his search for meaning in the world around us, The Nature of Why brings together dance and live music into an epic and beautiful performance. Featuring a cinematic live-score from Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory, an ensemble of musicians from the acclaimed British Paraorchestra and four extraordinary dancers, The Nature of Whypromises to be an up-close-and-personal dance experience like no other.

With an explosion of work from around the world, some of the highlights from overseas this year include the UK debut of Japanese company Contact Gonzowhose jaw-dropping physical style will thrill audiences at Jacob’s Wells Baths on 12 and 13 May, after a week’s residency. It’s violent and tender, very funny and very serious. Direct from an acclaimed off-Broadway run, Halifax Nova Scotia’s, 2b theatre company bring Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story, a deliciously dark folktale woven together with a blistering Klezmer-folk gig. Also from Halifax, The Accidental Mechanic’s Group’s Let’s Not Beat Each Other To Death lands at The Loco Klub – a genre-defying play/memorial/electro-pop dance party and a celebration of LGBTQ people around the world. Cult musician Doug Hream Bluntflies in from San Francisco for a collaborative performance with The Cube Workforce at The Cube Microplex.

The UK premiere of WE ARE LIGHTNING! by Sam Halmarack & Joseph O’Farrell takes over Trinity with a cast of nearly 100, including a huge choir, a brass band and a teen band. Following their Mayfest premieres, WE ARE LIGHTNING!, Town Choir and Contact Gonzo will tour to Theatre Orchard, Weston-super-Mare, Strike a Light, Gloucester, Derby Theatre and Quarterhouse, Folkestone this spring and summer, supported by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund.

Bristol’s rich artistic landscape plays out in rude health: Sabrina Shirazi’s Choral Cuisine is a sonorous dining experience in a coffee roastery where a two course meal becomes an opportunity to create music while you dine; Draw to Look byHannah Sullivan invites you to join her in the simple and deliberate act of looking and noticing through drawing, and the world premiere of a major new work by Verity Standen, Undersong. Now Is The Time To Say Nothing by Caroline Williams is an interactive video installation made with Syrian film-maker Reem Karssli and young people from London.

Ridiculusmus make a welcome return to Mayfest, with a rare opportunity to see the full trilogy of their work focusing on mental health, Give Me Your Love, The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland and Complicated Grief, taking place at The Tobacco Factory Theatres and the Southville Centre between 16–19 May.

Also returning to the festival is Scottee, with Bravado, his blistering memoir of working class masculinity, performed at Jack of Diamonds on Old Market.

For younger audiences, there’s Snigel and Friends by Caroline Bowditch and Bristol’s very own Drag Queen Story Time.

The festival also ventures out of the city for the first time with Richard Allen’s The Killers, at The Regent restaurant on the sea front in Weston-super-Mare. Inspired by the Ernest Hemingway short story of the same name, The Killers is a binaural sound work where the audience listen as two assassins arrive at the restaurant thirty minutes before a killing.

Other shows include the smash-hit Edinburgh show Velvet Petal by Scottish Dance Theatre, Palmyra by Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas, Live Before You Die by Byron Vincent and Dave McGinn, and How (not) to Live In Suburbia by Annie Siddons.

Mayfest is curated and directed by MAYK, the producing organisation based in Bristol led by Kate Yedigaroff and Matthew Austin. They said of this year’s programme: “We are living in a particularly big political, cultural and social moment. The work in this year’s festival speaks loudly and subtly about where and who we are, right now. It’s so good to be back after a year away, and we can’t wait to share this year’s programme with audiences from all over the UK.”
PRESS ENQUIRIES: Claire Skelcey at Mayfest on 07977 535508 / 0117 925 9999
Follow Mayfest on Twitter: @mayfestbristol and via Mayfest’s Facebook page

Dementia drama to tour nationwide after Theatre Awards success


Re-Live Theatre Company’s Belonging makes a triumphant return to the stage with a second national tour following sell-out performances in 2016, and its storming success at the Wales Theatre Awards winning Best Actor for Llion Williams, Best Director for Peter Doran and a Best Playwright nomination for Karin Diamond.

Opening in Cardiff on April 26th and touring Wales until early June, Belonging follows the lives of two families as they discover that love and laughter don’t have to stop because of dementia. The production provides a moving and inspirational insight into the realities faced by families affected by dementia in Wales.

The response to the play from critics and audiences has been unanimous in its praise:

“An important piece of theatre. Beautiful and genuine” 5 Stars Wales Online

“Profoundly involving” British Theatre Guide

Influenced by Re-Live’s creative work with people living with dementia and their families for over five years, Belonging has proved to be a truthful window into what families affected by dementia go through 24/7.

Karin says:

“This play is a testament to the experiences I’ve heard from people living with dementia and their loved ones. Living with dementia can be all consuming for families and Belonging shines a light on the impact this can have on their lives.  We know families can become extremely isolated so we hope Belonging helps to re-connect their friends and local community to help support them through challenging times. Dementia can isolate us but Belonging shows us how we can continue to connect and support each other.”


Nowhere has the response been more emphatic than in the health and social care sector which has turned to this production as a powerful form of dementia awareness training for thousands of its staff across the country. Belonging 2018 hopes to connect with thousands more professionals who work tirelessly to support people living with dementia.

“As a nurse I have looked after many people living with dementia and I felt that you got the subject absolutely spot on. This is the best dementia training I’ve ever attended.”  Nurse, Pembrokeshire


Due to generous support from the Arts Council of Wales, ticket prices for this production are available for just £10 to encourage as many people as possible to come and see a performance. Re-Live Theatre Company also want to take the message to a younger audience offering a ‘Live for £5’ ticket for anyone aged under the age of 26.

Belonging is touring nationwide between April and June this year.

Tickets are available from venue website and via

Belonging directly reflects the vision set out in the new innovative action plan by Welsh Government to ensure people with dementia can live as independently as possible in their communities.

http://gov.wales/docs/dhss/publications/180214dementiaen.pdf [2]

#Belonging2018      #Perthyn2018

Tour Details:


26th April – 5th May 2pm & 7.30pm

chapter.org  | 029 2030 4400


10th May – 12th May 2pm & 7.30pm

torchtheatre.co.uk 01646 695 267

MOLD – THEATR CLWYD                              15th May 11am 16th – 19th May 2pm & 7.45pm

theatrclwyd.com  | 01352 701 521

SWANSEA – TALIESIN                                     23rd – 25th May – 10am & 7.30pm

taliesinartscentre.co.uk | 01792 602060

ABERGAVENNY – BOROUGH THEATRE    6th June 2pm & 7.30pm

boroughtheatreabergavenny.co.uk | 01873 850 805

Swansea City Opera – The Barber of Seville

Swansea City Opera will be presenting BSL-interpreted performances of the Barber of Seville at the Stiwt Theatr, Rhosllannerchrugog on Saturday 7th April 2018 and at Neuadd Dwyfor, Pwllheli on Friday 20th April 2018.


There will be a pre-performance talk about the opera and production at 6.15pm, given by the artistic director of Swansea City Opera, Brendan Wheatley.


Barber of Seville by Rossini Sung in English Swansea City Opera present a revival of their hugely successful 2011 production of the Barber of Seville, Rossini’s most famous opera – razor-sharp and full of twists and turns. A young Spanish nobleman, Count Almaviva, is in love with the beautiful and rich Rosina, ward of the lecherous Doctor Bartolo, who plans his own marriage to her. Along comes the meddling Figaro, the town barber, and suddenly we have all the ingredients for confusion and mayhem. 

From Figaro’s famous entrance aria ‘Largo al factotum’ to the frenzy of the Act I finale, The Barber of Seville makes for a rollicking evening’s entertainment, don’t miss this ultimate feel-good opera that is always cheerful and fun.

Swansea City opera is known across the UK for its high, quality and engaging performances of comic opera and this sparkling performance will be no exception. Sung in English the production is set in period Seville, with outrageous 18th century costumes that compliment the fizz and flare of Rossini’s musical genius, it is perfect both for the established operagoer, and those seeking to engage with opera for the first time.

 You can find out more about the production here: 





The Llanarth Group

richard III redux

or Sara Beer [IS/NOT] richard III

Richard III: Bogeyman. Villain. Evil incarnate. Or is he? What if he is she? What if the ‘hideous…. deformed, hobbling, hunchbacked cripple’ is portrayed by someone funny, female, feminist, and with the same form of scoliosis?  How might the story change, the body change, the acting change, the character change when explored by a disabled actress with deadly comic timing and a dislike for horses? How would previous star vehicle Richards measure up? Olivier, McKellan, Pacino, Sher – watch out – the mighty richard III redux has you in the frame.


Riotously inventive and joyously irreverent, richard III redux is not a production of Shakespeare’s classic, but an interweaving of stories about acting, difference, and a maligned historical figure told by unreliable narrator Sara Beer. She takes on Richard as a solo performer in a number of guises, interspersed with video and live camera sequences. The production premiered at Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2018 and has had great reviews – see http://disabilityarts.online/magazine/opinion/richard-iii-redux-sara-beer-not-richard-iii/

and https://weepingtudorproductionsblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/10/review-richard-iii-or-sara-beer-is-not-richard-iii-chapter/

The production incorporates creative captioning.

2018 Tour Dates

 16,17 March: Chapter Theatre, Cardiff  https://uk.patronbase.com/_ChapterArts/Productions/REDU/Performances

14, 15 March: Aberystwyth Art Centre Studio https://www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk/whats-on-all

19, 20 March: Theatre Clwyd, Mold  https://www.theatrclwyd.com/en/whats-on/

21 March: The Torch Theatre, Milford Haven  http://www.torchtheatre.co.uk/whats-on

23 March – Small World: Theatre, Cardigan  http://smallworld.org.uk/


Cast and Creative Team

Performer: Sara Beer

Playwright: Kaite O’Reilly (Follow Kaite on Twitter: @kaiteoreilly)

Director: Phillip Zarrilli

Videographer: Paul Whittaker

Coming soon – the 2018 Festival of One-Act Plays

United Kingdom Community Drama Festivals Federation

Each year the national amateur theatre organisations of the four United Kingdom countries promote a series of one-act play festivals. Local festivals lead selected productions to a national festival in each country, from which one production is selected to represent its country at the British Final Festival.  Area festivals are held in various parts of Wales from February to May and the six highest marked productions are selected to appear at the Wales Final Festival of One-Act Plays.

Rules for the Wales Final Festival can be found here (PDF 184KB) 

The festivals provide an opportunity for amateur companies to appear in new and varying venues before widely differing audiences; to receive constructive criticism from a qualified adjudicator, and to compare the standard of their own work with that of the other companies taking part. For audiences, the public adjudication of performances offers a deeper understanding and appreciation of theatre.

Regional Area Rounds 2018

Adjudicator: David Price GoDA

Clwyd Community Theatre Association Festival of One-Act Plays 2018
9-10th March 7.00pm at Emlyn Williams Theatre, Theatr Clwyd, Mold, Flintshire 

Conwy Drama Association Festival of One-Act Plays 2018
22-24th March 7.00pm at Glan Conwy Church House, Church Street, Glan Conwy 

Montgomeryshire Community Drama Association Festival of One-Act Plays 2018
4-7 April 7.30pm (7.00pm on Sat 7th) at Berriew Community Arts Centre, Berriew, Welshpool, Powys

South Breconshire Festival of One-Act Plays 2018
14th April 7.00pm at The Welfare Arts Centre, Brecon Road, Ystradglynlais

Glamorgan Drama League Festival of One-Act Plays 2018
26-28th April 7.00pm at The Savoy Theatre, Collenna Road, Tonyrefail, Rhondda Cynon Taff

Tales from the Silk Road & more

WOW’s popular “Tales from the Silk Road” films sell out in advance at Borderlines Film Festival!

Borderlines Film Festival’s three preview screenings of Heavenly Nomadic, Free and Easy and The Gulls have already sold out, and we’re anticipating a huge response to our screenings in Swansea and across Wales when the festival opens in two weeks time! 

If you’re in Aberystwyth, there will be two free talks: “An Introduction to Central Asian Cinema” by “Tales from the Silk Road” co-curator Birgit Beumers (Thurs 15 March, 4.30pm) and, in collaboration with Planet Magazine, Sharif Gemie will give a talk on his book “The Hippy Trail: A Pilgrimage to the East”(Tues 20 March, 4.30pm).

Check out the full “Tales from the Silk Road” programme, which includes films from the likes of Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-eda, Israel’s Samuel Maoz and Palestine’s Annemarie Jacir here.  

We’re also expecting big audiences for our screenings of Sweet Country. Based on a true story told to screenwriter David Tranter by his grandfather, this is another powerful and culturally sensitive film from Warwick Thornton, who directed Samson and Delilah. 

For the first time, this year 50% of the WOW festival programme is “F-Rated”  – either directed or written by a woman.  In our next festival newsletter we’ll be celebrating International Women’s day (March 8th) – stay tuned!

Festival Dates:

March/Mawrth 13 – 15
Canolfan y Celfyddydau Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea/Abertawe

March/Mawrth 15 – 21
Canolfan y Celfyddydau Aberystwyth Arts Centre

March/Mawrth 15 – 29
Kinokulture, Oswestry/Croesoswallt

March/Mawrth 22 – 24
Tramshed Cinema, Cardiff/Caerdydd

April/Ebrill 3 – 12
Theatr Clwyd, Mold/Yr Wyddgrug