Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Big Weekend '07 / Dirty Protest

The much anticipated (by me, anyway) Cardiff Festival Big Weekend 2007 was, mercifully, unaffected by rain except on the final Sunday night leg, which saw an otherwise triumphant set by the obscurely pulchritudinous Magic Numbers. I felt that the wisest course in terms of maximising enjoyment was to cherry-pick artists; thus I managed to experience the infectious funk-jazz stylings of former James Brown sideman (and current resident of Frome) Pee-Wee Ellis; the hearteningly energetic Jimmy Cliff who, despite some lacklustre filler material, did much to justify his position as arguably the most important living reggae artist; acoustic balladeer and sometime male-model (and son of Carly and James) Ben Taylor; and Richie Havens who, in-between talking a lot of well-rehearsed hippie guff, did his legendary intense soul guitar thing with some style.

I just managed to squeeze into the inaugural Dirty Protest, a New Writing event held at Milgi on City Road, Cardiff, organised by writer Tim Price and actress Catrin Rees amongst others, featuring work by writers ranging from the legendary (Ed Thomas) to the “cherry-popping” (Rhiannon Boyle), and all points in-between (Alan Harris, Gareth Potter, Kit Lambert, Branwen Davies), and, as always in the capital, an excellent line-up of actors: TV’s Siwan Morris, Alys Thomas (also of TV, but slightly less high-profile), and Lee Mengo, with whose work I was previously unfamiliar. The rehearsed readings took place in a yurt (yes, a yurt) at the rear of the bar/restaurant/gallery, and the pieces ranged from the surreal to the sit-comic to the elegiac. All highly entertaining, despite the non-existent sound-proofing. Obviously, such events are extremely valuable in terms of research/development, and allowing writers to get instant feedback on their work. The problem is that such is the impoverishment of theatre in Wales that there is a danger that such events will “become” the scene rather than simply supporting it.


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