ROUNDUP | SUMMER 2021
Things which happened in the recent past, things happening pretty much now, as you read this (if you read it at the appropriate time), and things which will happen in the future. And they happened, are happening or will happen in Wales!
WELSH SUMMER FESTIVALS EXPERIENCING VARIOUS FORTUNES
The logistics of setting up a weekend-long festival are brain-melting at the best of times, and with the specific public health landscape of summer 2021 have been rendered far more agonisingly precarious. With that in mind, it’s a big coup for longrunning storytelling festival Beyond The Border that its planned dates of Fri 2 and Sat 3 – this weekend, at publication time – have remained in place. It’s located in Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire, with some 65 acts billed, and is sold out. Also celebrating are the folks behind Ebbw Vale’s Steelhouse Festival, dedicated to hard rock and metal; on Mon 28 June they were given the green light to go ahead from Fri 23-Sun 25 July, though without planned (American) headliners Anthrax. Wales’ biggest music fest, indie/folk staple Green Man, is still holding out for developments before committing either way, while up north the Tidy Weekender, originally set to bring hard house mayhem to Prestatyn Pontins from Fri 9-Sun 11 July, has had to reschedule for the same time next year.
The six names selected for this Welsh art prize, the UK’s largest dedicated to contemporary international artists, have already endured an unusually long wait to see if their practise would be rewarded: the nominations for the ninth Artes Mundi award were announced in September 2019, then rolled over from last year, and unavailable to exhibit in person until last month. However, they’re able to be seen now at Cardiff’s National Museum. Meanwhile, in light of the period in question being especially arduous, the AM jury suspended their usual picking of one overall winner, instead awarding all six with a £10,000 purse. Firelei Báez, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Meiro Koizumi, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Prabhakar Pachpute and Carrie Mae Weems: congratulations!
This circus company, based in Tremorfa, Cardiff, is to run free courses for four weeks from Mon 5 July. It will cover the same areas of circus skills as Up Side Down’s regular programme, such as hula hoop, handstands and clowning, but with a target audience of people from the area aged 16-25 who identify as LGBTQ+. Up Side Down founder Tammi Brown cites the links between mental health/general wellbeing and activity of the sort on offer here, with the aim to provide an inclusive setting for young people who may lack a support network. Find out more on how to sign up at the link above.
Also starting on Mon 5 July is a venture by The Other Room, housed within theatrically-inclined Cardiff bar Porters. While they’re not quite yet disposed to put plays on in there, the idea behind MAKE – as they’ve titled the programme – is to offer space to local artists of whichever type to get back into the creative swing, share ideas and so forth. Running until mid-September, slots vary in length – you can pop in for half a day or return across a week – are allotted on a first come first serve basis, and can be booked via the link above.
Mon 5 July is once again the operative date, but this time it’s the deadline to apply to be part of this year’s Experimentica festival. Curated by Cardiff’s Chapter, and usually based in their eponymous art centre, it’s focused on live art and other performance. This year, they’re looking for submissions from UK-based artists with a view to “exploring narratives and alternatives to the status quo; questioning accepted ways of thinking; giving a voice to the underrepresented and challenging existing forms of storytelling”. Applications from minority or otherwise underrepresented backgrounds are encouraged; download a form at the link above.
Cardiff’s Bute Park is to be one of four UK locations overtaken by dinosaurs [pictured, top] this summer, with scale models of scaly-skinned ‘sauruses setting up throughout its environs. Promising 50 such animatronic beasts from three distinct periods (Jurassic, Triassic and Cretaceous – only one of those has its name in a hit film franchise though), attendees will be treated to their moving jaws, roaring sound effects and so forth. You can even ride on some of them, apparently. It’s in Cardiff from Sat 21 Aug until Sun 5 Sept, as part of a tour also including London, Glasgow and Birmingham.
Milford Haven’s Torch Theatre, which recently hosted an impressive livestreamed production of WWI-themed play The Wood (previewed by Buzz here), has announced that another of its works is to be adapted for TV. Grav, which like The Wood was written by Owen Thomas, met with acclaim on its first performance in 2015; a dramatisation of the life of Welsh rugby icon Ray Gravell, among its various performances are a private one for the Wales side which went on to win 2018’s Six Nations. Its lead, Gareth John Bale [pictured, above], will reprise that role for the S4C adaption, due to be screened in September.
Back in the game after an unprecedented break of (it says here) 468 days without live performance, Welsh National Opera’s sold-out al fresco take on Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland precedes their planned schedule from September onwards. The Barber Of Seville is something of a WNO staple, and will open in Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre on Thurs 9 Sept; later months find it traversing the UK before finishing on Llandudno’s Venue Cymru on Thurs 2 Dec. Also opening in September – Fri 24 Sept at the WMC – is a new production of Madam Butterfly, overseen by Lindy Hume and following the same route around England thereafter. Spring and summer of next year also look busy, with a new opera titled Migrations premiering in June or July.
This popular south Wales heavy rock outfit, formed by former Motörhead guitarist Campbell and so titled because no less than three of his offspring feature in the lineup, are looking for a new singer. Citing a wish to try a “new direction” that previous vocalist Neil Starr can presumably not fulfil, the Campbells write, “If you live within the UK and think you might be suitable as lead vocalist and front person for Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons please send us your details and some links of your performances for us to consider to [email protected].” Their first scheduled gig is on Fri 23 July, at the aforementioned Steelhouse Festival.
In time for the autumn 2021 rugby internationals, a new level of luxury is about to be delivered to the city. The Parkgate Hotel [pictured, above], being developed on the heritage site of the old Post Office building on Westgate Street in Cardiff, promises to be the go to place for high end luxury accommodation, dining, socialising and relaxing right in the heart of the city. The hotel is being operated on behalf of the Welsh Rugby Union and with its close proximity to the Principality Stadium, 170 bedrooms, and with function rooms that can cater for up to 430 people, means it’s a sure fire bet for those extra special hospitality days.