TA TA 2020

Well, that was some year!

We kicked off in January with a post-apocalyptic bang thanks to our new production Llyfr Glas Nebo. The adaptation of the record-breaking literary phenomenon by Manon Steffan Ross performed in 11 venues to 8,498 people across the country and sold 91% of its tickets (the UK average is 61%).

In March, it felt like the dark world of Llyfr Glas Nebo was becoming a reality as the whole country was placed under lockdown and a virus spread through our communities.

2020 has been a difficult year for many, and no one less than the young people of North West Wales and freelance artists. As a company we were faced with a tough decision – to stop and wait until we were able to continue, or to get creative find new ways to support and make theatre… so, we got to work commissioning artists, working with young people, connecting through new ways and investing our time and resource in developing new work that places young people and Wales at the heart of it.

This year we have exciting strategic partnerships with organisations such as GISDA and local authority support departments so that we could reach out and work with young people who are harder to reach. Our health and wellbeing project Fi Di Fi has given us the opportunity to use the arts to work with young carers, refugees and young people who are not in education, training or work – this as a means to improve self-confidence, ambition and the resilience of our young people which has never been more important when facing the challenges of the pandemic.

Thanks to the support of Arts Council of Wales, Cyngor Gwynedd and Isle of Anglesey County Council, we were able to commission 7 new pieces of work that went on to employ 109 freelance artists throughout the year.

First up was our first ever digital show with Frân Wen Young Company which was viewed by over four thousand people. Named 120960 after the number of minutes up until the show went live, which was also the same number of minutes since the first case of COVID-19 had been confirmed. The show explored how the lives of the young people had changed during lockdown.

Our Young Company is a platform to discuss, connect and express. By exploring subject such as fake news, doomscrolling and #overrated, they continued to collaborate and are already working on epic plans for their next production under the leadership of our new Young Company Director, Nia Haf!

Throughout the summer, we continued digitally with Llwybrau Llachar, our programme for young artists with additional needs which is supported by BBC Children in Need. Working intensely with five young artists every year, we give them the opportunity to develop their artistic craft by working with professional artists. An exciting by-product has seen us establish a new young company that meets regularly to further develop collaborative work and expand the network of young artists.

During all this, we also launched our artistic programme which includes collaboration with National Eisteddfod of Wales, Wales Millennium Centre, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, Sherman Theatre, Literature Wales and Pontio, and some of Wales’ most vibrant and daring artists. This is our most collaborative programme ever, putting the young people of Wales at the heart of every project and production.

Faust + Greta is an interactive production that brings together a company of 18 – 25 year olds to explore the classic German folklore about a man who sells his soul to the Devil. Our young ensemble has been devising with Nia Lynn, Creative Director, since October and they will continue to develop the show until its staging in April 2020 at Pontio Bangor.

Our other productions working away behind the scenes are Popeth y Ddaear, an ambitious combination of spoken word, music and theatre that explores how individuals react when their freedom and free will are taken away environmental catastrophic disaster; Branwen – a fierce, explosive contemporary musical take on the classic Welsh tale; and Diwrnod Arall, an electrifying combination of live theatre and pop music that will challenge the quest for independence. We look forward to sharing some of the work with you early next year!

Another shining light in our year was our work with emerging artists as part of our Artists Development programme. Highlights this year include establishing a New Writing group and the Tra’n Aros drop with young makers Hafwen Hibbard and Lauren Connelly (check it out on our YouTube channel).

We can’t talk about 2020 without mentioning the small matter of developing our new home, Nyth. With young people leading the way, we’ve successfully completed the initial design stage and, if everything goes to plan, we’ll move on to the building stage in Spring 2021. We’ve taken every opportunity possible to creatively influence the design process through our Nythu community project, and by collaborating with Welsh artists on commissions that are integrated into the design of the building.

As we prepare to say good riddance to 2020, we can look back proudly on what we’ve achieved with the support of our funder, incredible artists and amazing young people, and we look forward to 2021 with great anticipation, hope and excitement.