Director Ffion Haf Jones talks about her walk with Marc Rees

DPP_433‘What day is it today?’ asked Marc Rees on the 8th November as we were looking at Dylan Thomas’s grave that noted ‘Died 9th November 1953’. What a coincidence that would have been! A walk around Laugharne was a joyful experience as Marc Rees shared his artistic vision in great detail. It’s interesting to see how an artist, like Marc, discovers what gives a location its identity? Immersing himself in the village’s day to day activities, getting to know the village’s regulars and characters is important to him as well as studying the landscapes natural rhythms and historical context. Walking around Dylan Thomas’s home of writing allowed time to stand still and the imagination to play. From peeping your head into the writing shed and then onwards to a nice warm ‘Cawl’ at the Boat House, the endless artistic possibilities Marc brought to the village was enriching. I realised that being surrounded by people and allowing coincidences to happen, is just as part of the creative process as forming ideas and developing concrete work. You need to allow the imagination to be free, and the exterior world to feed you opportunities.

As a theatre director, time can be a precious thing and one can sometimes rush ideas to get the work done. But what Marc showed me that day was the more you relax and truly take notice of the world around you, the possibilities for creative experiments are already there. Trusting your ideas and motivations is an extremely important habit, and only through practice and perseverance can artistic work truly flourish.

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Guided tour No. 4# with artist and curator Marc Rees

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The weather omens for guided tour no. 4# were not looking good as I travelled through torrential rain to Laugharne to meet up with Marc Rees and Ffion Haf Jones. However, as with every walk so far, the skies turned miraculously blue and Laugharne was as tranquil and as beautiful as ever.

Ffion is a theatre director and lecturer who has just participated in an emerging directors programme with Theatr Genedlaethol and recently opened a new production with Cwmni Fran Wen. She was nominated by Arwel Gruffydd, Artistic director of Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru.

Marc talks here about why he wanted to explore Laugharne with Ffion.

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Dance artist Kylie Ann Smith talks about her guided tour with Fern Smith

Kylie Ann Smith is a dance artist and member of Kitsch N Sync Collective that is making a name for itself with its fun, ironic and innovative performances. Here Kylie talks about the walk she undertook with Fern Smith her guide around the Gower coastline between Mumbles and Pennard.

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Meeting Michael Sheen by actor Luke Bridgeman

I was fortunate enough to be asked to be part of this mentoring scheme, having been put forward by The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. And I was even more fortunate to be paired up with Michael Sheen. Being born in Port Talbot and being interested in the arts, from a young age, I was very aware of who Michael was. His name was used more and more as I grew up due to him getting more and more recognition. Wanting to have a career similar to that of Michael’s, I was intent on getting as much as I could out of this opportunity.

We started our walk where he began the final scene of The Passion in Port Talbot. As we walked down the back of Tanygroes street and he started talking about the birth of the play, I could see straight away that the passion that drove the project into becoming a reality over two years was very much still there. We directed ourselves towards the town centre and Michael got talking about his journey from drama school. Michael explained to me how he’d chosen to do plays that some people had advised him against doing, but his own passion and instinct told him differently. He has no regrets about the decisions he made and that got me thinking; is it better to be an actor in a high profile, weak play or an actor in a lower profile, quality piece of theatre? This conversation solidified which one I’d prefer.

After helping a few fans have a picture taken with the man who played Jesus on their own streets, we got talking about what all young actors fear… Unemployment. Michael assured me that he never suffered from that worry, because, although along the line he may have been ‘unemployed,’ he never felt it because he was always working on something – whether it was writing his own script, or starting up his own theatre company. The secret was ‘you make your own work.’ Those of us that got into the industry for the art and creativity have no excuse. We can make our own work just as easily as having it offered to us. It keeps you thinking, creative and alive. As Michael said, ‘Work breeds more work’.

As we came to the end of our walk, I unloaded my worries about being judged or pigeon holed because of my Welsh accent. Surely Downton Abbey would never cast me as I am?! The response was the best lesson I had all day. ‘Be yourself. You have nowhere to go if you’re already acting a character. Go in and show them YOU and how you’re best for that part. And if they don’t like you because of your accent, even if you smashed it? You probably don’t want to work with them anyway.’

As we said our goodbyes I felt a relief - a weight coming off my shoulders that had been there since graduation, I’d realised it’s not about ‘will I ever work?’ or ‘will I ever get my big break?’ I do this because I’m passionate about it and I love what I do. If you work hard and do it for all the right reasons, you can’t really fail. I may not be in a blockbuster film one day, but I can be recognised and proud of what I’ve done.

It was a brilliant day, and speaking to a successful actor who’d been there and done that, did wonders for my sanity. Now its just a question of waiting to see if his advice pays off!

By Luke Bridgeman

Luke is a graduate of RWCMD and recently appeared in the hit play “Land of Our Fathers” at Theatre 503. He is represented by the agency Emptage Hallett http://www.emptagehallett.co.uk/cardiff.htm

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Guided Tour No. 3# with cultural activist and performer Fern Smith

Fern Smith and dance artist Kylie Ann Smith arrive at Pennard after their walk from the Mumbles

Fern Smith and dance artist Kylie Ann Smith arrive at Pennard after their walk from the Mumbles

The remarkable Fern Smith has been part of my professional world since we both left college around the same time, but it’s only in the last five or six years that we’ve really got to know each other well and worked together closely. She is one of the most visionary and insightful people I know – never mind the fact that she is also an extraordinary performer. Fern recently left Volcano – the company she founded with Paul Davies – and is embracing a new and perhaps even more significant chapter in her career. I couldn’t think of anyone better to be one of the guides as part of this project.

After discussing it with Chapter, the consensus was that Kitsch N Sync Collective’s amazing Kylie Ann Smith – a dance artist and theatre maker who is already achieving great things – would be the perfect match for this walk.

Fern talks about why this walk inspires her so much here.

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Inspiring walk with Wyndham Price

I was both surprised and thrilled to be asked to participate in this mentoring opportunity. The day turned out to be much than I had hoped for and the conversations I had with Wyndham throughout really inspired me to pursue my dreams of producing feature films.

In total Wyndham took me to three places that have inspired him throughout his career.  The first place we walked was near a place called ‘Two Bridges’ near Windham’s childhood home. This location featured in a stage play that Wyndham wrote. He pressed upon me that a simple location, which he enjoyed playing by during his childhood, can inspire a whole production.

The second place we went to was near the Neath and Brecon railway. This was where, as a child, Wyndham watched Richard Attenborough direct Young Winston. He mentioned that filming took place throughout his school summer holidays, so he was able to go up and watch every day. The location doubled for the Transvaal where Winston Churchill fought in the Boar War.

Then we enjoyed a pub lunch during which I was able to ask Wyndham about his experiences of financing feature films, an area in which I am particularly interested. I felt very privileged that he was offering so much information and directing me to lots of reading material.

After lunch we visited Wyndham’s old rugby club, which he hadn’t been to for the best part for 20 years. As we walked in he was instantly recognised and we spent an enjoyable 45 minutes chatting about the club and his very successful playing career.

On the drive back to Cardiff I was trying to absorb as much information as I could as Wyndham was happy to divulge a lot of very useful anecdotes and areas to look at.

As mentioned before, I found the whole day a privilege to participate in. The idea of the inspiring walk as an alternative to the usual networking / mentoring opportunities is genius and made for a life changing day for me.

Written by Benjamin Jenkins

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Producers’ Place: Notes 2#

Tues 24 Sept, 7.00-9.30, A Place for the Producers, Chapter

#producersplace and https://producersplace.eventbrite.co.uk/

Notes from “What Excites you as a Producer?” discussion

Making:

“Seeing the development of an artist”

“Seeing participants really getting something out of it”

“Creating something that exceeds audience expectation”

“Being in a position to enable work I believe in”

“Audiences coming to see work and enjoying it”

“A great idea”

“Work”

“My work and how people/audiences respond”

“Excitement of growing an idea . . . From tiny seeds to mighty . . . Grow!!”

“Making things happen”

“Making it real”

“Making something work”

“Seeing it all come together”

“Love the rush when it works”

“Building/Making things”

“Meeting new people and creating new stuff”

“End results. Making things happen.”

“Finding something which feels obviously right”

New (Different Hues of New):

“New ways of telling stories.”

“Finding a new project”

“Post-dramatic Theatre blooming in so many different expressions”

“Being free to propose amazing ideas”

“Innovation”

“Possibilities”

“The unexpected and the new.”

“New approaches, new possibilities”

“Meeting new people and creating new stuff”

“I’m excited by the way things are changing and have to change – Innovation Impact”

“New Spaces (Digital)”

“Potential/New Ideas”

“Newness and Emerging Sector”

“New Stuff”

Geographic:

“Wales and International”

“Wales”

“National Remit”

Role Definition:

“Flexibility of term Producer”

“Many Faceted Role”

Collaboration:

“Blending practices that create innovative work.”

“Relationships that work!”

“Making connections, links and networks.”

“Borrowing working practices from other Creative Industries”

“Inspiring Others”

“Gaining support from other professionals.”

“Getting others involved.”

“Working with Artists”

Lone Rangers:

“Making Stuff Commercial”

“Independence”

“Failure”

“Everything starts with Producer and ends with Producer.”

“Owning the Product (IP, Respect, £)”

“. . . nothing . . I’m bored with it – I’m an Artist.”

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