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.


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

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

DAC Annual Poetry Competition – we have a winner!!


Lee Green  !!






Thanks to all  of you who entered our annual poetry competition

We are pleased to announce that Lee Green’s poem  ‘Simmering Limerence’ has been judged to be the overall winner . Congratulations Lee!

In addition to the overall winner  the following poems were highly commended by our judge Dominic Williams.

‘A song to the Vinyl Siren’   by Giles Turnbull

 ‘Letter to my daughter ‘ by Rhian Elizabeth

  ‘Voices’ by Siobhan Davies

The above poems together with some of the other entries will be included alongside images from our 2017 visual art exhibiton in an iBook – more details to follow shortly.

Thanks to our judges Dominic Williams  and Sion Aled for their work in judging the entries


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

The week’s latest news, views, jobs and events from the world of disability arts and culture

Interesting Stories From Disability Arts Online

Mik Scarlet talks to TV star Lisa Hammond about the upcoming Let Me Play the Lion Too, an extravanganza of disabled and non-disabled actors, led by Told By An Idiot at the Barbican Centre 3 March

Interview: Jess Thom on claiming Mouth from Beckett’s Not I as a disabled character, as Touretteshero’s production of this iconic text comes to Battersea Arts Centre

Opinion: Jonathan Meth considers the dramaturgical problematic presented by The Who’s Tommy, and wonders what could have been if Ramps on the Moon’s production had framed the titular character as autistic

Opinion: Isn’t it time disabled actors and directors were given access to making their own films? Justin Edgar of 104 Films writes about a campaign his company is running to change the status quo, ‘Make Film Equal’

Out of Sight • Allan o’r Golwg

Digwyddiad efo cerddi gan aelodau Celfyddydau Anabledd Cymru

Ym Mae Colwyn, ar brynhawn Sadwrn 31 Mawrth, rydym yn lawnsio’r antholeg bach o gerddi ynglŷn ag iechyd meddwl gan aelodau Celfyddydau Anabledd Cymru. Dyma gwahoddiad i chi archebu lle er mwyn ymuno efo ni a’r beirdd er mwyn dathlu’r gwaith gan wrando arnynt ddarllen y cerddi. Bydd lluniaeth ysgafn yn cael ei ddarparu. Mynediad am ddim ond rhaid archebu lle blaenllaw gan llenwi’r ffurflen yma.

Simple Drawing Of A Tree Simple Tree Drawing With Roots Ngorongclub - Drawing Art Gallery

Disability Arts Cymru event with poetry by our members

On the afternoon of Saturday 31 March in Colwyn Bay, we are launching the small anthology of poems about mental health by Disability Arts Cymru members. This is your invitation to book a place to join us and the poets in this celebration of the work and to hear them reading the poems. Light refreshments will be provided, and entry is free but you must book your place in advance by filling in this form.

News From Heart N Soul

The Fish Police are back with their brand new single Cactus taken from the upcoming EP ‘Edge Myself to the Middle’!

The Independent has described it as: “Joyful in its simplicity, a funk guitar line, glitching synth and 808 drums sitting under frontman Dean Rodney Jr.’s matter-of-fact, resolute vocals suffused with positivity.”Read the full review and listen to the track here!

The band are launching the new EP at South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas! But they need your need help to get there, you can support this adventure by donating here!

Make sure you follow The Fish Police on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram because next week they’ll be releasing the next single and music video!

Heart n Soul at South by Southwest

Heart n Soul will be hosting a discussion at SXSW called Exploring Music Through The Lens of Neurodiversity on 14 March.

It will feature Dean & Charles from The Fish Police, Heart n Soul’s Artistic Director Mark Williams and artist Robyn Steward.

They will be looking at different ways of seeing the world as musicians and how they collaborate together as artists with and without learning disabilities.

Our Own Thing

It was amazing to see so many talented young from Do Your Own Thing people making music and art at LSO St Luke’s last Friday! Thanks to everyone involved in performing, watching and supporting – you helped make Our Own Thing a night to remember!
 Check out photos of the night here and keep an eye on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as there will be a video of the event soon! 


Too Hot for Candy have just finished filming their new video for a SoundLab project they’ve been working on with Grace Savage, more will be revealed in April!
 Have you visited our SoundLab website recently? Over the last three years we have explored how digital music making technologies can be used to help people with learning disabilities make the music they want to make. Visit the website to find out how you can share, learn and play!


Join us every week from Thursday 22 February until Thursday 29 March for the new season of Allsorts! This year we start with The Season of Choice and will have more variety than ever, ranging from beatboxing to Strictly Come Dancing!
 Find out more about the programme on our website.

Do Your Own Thing

Don’t forget that Do Your Own Thing returns on Saturday 17 February in it’s new home at The Albany, where we’ll be making more art and music! To find out more about Do Your Own Thing, visit the webpage here.


Heart n Soul Choir

It’s the final Heart n Soul choir session todaybefore Allsorts starts again, check out future dates on the website. Don’t forget you can see them perform tonight at our Deptford Club Night at Buster Mantis! Heart n Soul’s Club DJs will also be there playing tunes for you to dance to, we can’t wait to see you there!