“'Life-changing' is an overused phrase, of course, but as a definition for what Theatr Clwyd means to me it is 100% accurate.
Apart from a brief visit to record a vaguely remembered religious TV programme in the old HTV studio as a child, my first experience of Clwyd came in Terry Hands' inaugural season in 1997/98. Without that experience my career and my life would have been very different. As a proud Welshman, Welsh actor, I was brimful with hope of what could be achieved by this newly-formed, largely Welsh company. I have vivid memories of walking the now-familiar backstage corridors in my first days of that season, lapping up the enthusiasm, professionalism and potential of a place which I knew, somehow, would come to mean so much to me. And so it did. From Abigail's Party to Cyrano de Bergerac I'm struggling for fingers to count the number of productions I've been privileged to be part of. Including revivals, I think it's 26. From the first days of that season I've felt a part of the Clwyd family and have always taken immense pride in everything that family does and achieves. Many of my closest friends come from that family and I dearly hope that my professional relationship with this place continues as long as I do.
After learning so much under the directorship of Terry, and feeling wholeheartedly one of his company whether he was directing the show or steering one of the other great directors I've worked with, I have been lucky to work in many other great theatres. One of the first directors I worked with in London was Tamara Harvey, and a production we did at The Bush remains one of my favourites ever. My joy was unbridled, then, to know that with Terry's retirement my spiritual home on a hillside in North East Wales would come in to the secure and innovative hands of Tamara. And so it has proved.
Terry wanted to establish Clwyd as one of the great producing houses of the UK, and succeeded in doing so. Perhaps during that time, though, the link with the community work- which had historically been so much a part of Clwyd's definition- weakened a little. Tamara has embraced this need to restrengthen that link whilst continuing to keep the theatre at the forefront of regional producing houses. Following huge successes 'at home' and beyond with sellout shows, her dynamism and leadership in establishing imaginative ways of connecting with audiences and community during the pandemic year has been inspirational.
Not long before I first came to Theatr Clwyd, its very existence was in question. Since then, it has become one of the most vital and admired arts institutions in Britain. My pride in being a part of it remains undimmed"
“Being born and raised in Flintshire, Theatr Clwyd has always played a huge part in my life from an early age.
My very first experience of live theatre was watching the legendary pantomime there, then as a teenager I joined the Clwyd Youth Theatre and now, I love to take my daughter there too.
Theatre Clwyd really is the hub of our community. Not only does it give us access to award winning and high class theatre productions but its also a warm, welcoming and safe place for everyone.
I feel so lucky to have this place on my doorstep and it will always have a huge place in my heart.”
“I've had the good fortune of doing two plays with Tamara in the past 8 months, and yet we've never been in a rehearsal room, or put the work we made on a stage before an audience. Such is the nature of the times we are living through. Both plays - What a carve up!, and The Picture of Dorian Gray - were made "for the online stage". That is to say, filmed and made available online.
The fact that these two pieces got made at all, and then reached such a wide audience, is a huge testament to ingenuity and resourcefulness of Tamara and her co-collaborators. However, the essence of theatre is an audience and a company sharing a space as well as a story, and as we all know, this has been rendered impossible by the events of the past year or so. Unable to get people through their doors, theatres have been hit hard, and to make matters worse, this comes on top of a sustained period of cuts to the arts.
According to The Stage, government arts funding fell 35% from 2010 to 2020, and just this year the government have proposed cutting funding for arts education by 50%. The need then, is clear. On both sides. Theatres like Clwyd must receive support to continue serving their communities in the way that they deserve; and as a society we need now, more than ever, places where we can come together to collectively process what we have been through, perhaps occasionally to forget what we have been through, and to imagine where we can go from here.”
On our Hearts from the Arts work
“Flintshire Council is unusual in its ownership of a producing theatre, which has had great success recently with its work onstage. But increasingly, that work is only part of what a theatre can and must be in its community. A hub, a comfort, a haven. Austerity has bitten hard in the last decade; local authorities are now given less to deal with more; theatres have had to become places of refuge and inspiration for those who may never see a play there.
Show young people that a theatre is theirs to play in and they will make sure it continues. Flintshire and Clwyd have identified a need here, and done something about it in a celebratory and sustainable way. Lockdown has been hard for children and for carers. A bit of help can go a long way. I'm particularly pleased at the plans for continuation.”
“I adore the work Tamara & the team at Theatr Clwyd create and I’m so excited to return (hopefully) soon to see the redevelopment of the Theatre.
I played my 1st ‘adult’ musical theatre role whilst playing Angel in RENT and I’ll never forget the memories we made in Mold.
It was the beginning of an exciting rollercoaster ride for me and many others in the cast. It’s so important to support the arts, especially during these times, so creatives can have a space to surprise themselves and entertain regional audiences.
They too deserve 5* shows, not just the West End!”
“Theatr Clwyd was the perfect place to begin our Home, I’m Darling journey.
As we did our first performances in the lovely Welsh hills, the warm and invested audiences helped us discover the play’s tone.
The team there built us our spectacular set, and made me the most beautiful costumes. It was the happiest experience.
I hope it thrives forever.”
“Whenever I visit Theatr Clwyd I am reminded of how crucial live theatre is and my passion for it is instantly ignited.
I was lucky enough to be directed by Tamara Harvey in Peter Gill’s Uncle Vanya. Through her superb expertise, open heartedness and unceasing good humour, she made playing Sonya at Theatr Clwyd one of the most rewarding experiences I could have ever asked for as an actor.
Theatr Clwyd is not only a hub of producing excellent art, the support the theatre has given to freelancers and its local community this last year has been invaluable.”
“I grew up in North East Wales and Theatr Clwyd gave me the opportunity to meet and work with internationally acclaimed musicians. I heard Nicola Benedetti play when I was at school and had the opportunity to meet and talk with her after the concert. She encouraged me to work hard and follow my dream. I also took part in music workshops organised by Aled Marshman at Theatr Clwyd where I worked with a highly regarded teacher from the Royal Northern College of Music who said "If you work hard and get accepted into the Royal Northern College of Music, I will teach you". These experiences helped set up my conservatoire training at the highest level and were only possible thanks to TC. Outstanding people in Mold on my doorstep.
I am proud to be from North Wales and to have attended my local comprehensive school - no private or 'specialist schools'. At times when I was studying in Manchester and even now in the early stages of my career, where you are from and the opportunities afforded in Cardiff or London seem to matter, and I often feel like the underdog. I feel incredibly lucky to have had these opportunities in North East Wales. Everyone deserves world class music, access and opportunity. Performing at the Royal Albert Hall is just as important at Theatr Clwyd. Access to these opportunities should not be just for people who can afford them or live in a city. This is why we need Theatr Clwyd.”
Health & Wellbeing
Senior Manager for Children, Social Services, Flintshire County Council
“The creative passion, energy and commitment of Theatr Clwyd to engage and support children is refreshing and inspiring. We have developed a strong partnership with Theatr Clwyd that centres on an inclusive and adaptive approach to working with the children and young people supported by Social Services. The ethos and approach is far from a traditional ‘service’ and ‘place’ based approach. The Theatre takes a wholly unique approach to their community based work, listening to what children and young people want, and co-producing activities with them. Activities take place in community settings as well as opening and handing over Theatre spaces to our children, often adapting them to ensure inclusive access to all. Our young people have been involved in creative writing, story-telling, acting, combat skills, fashion design, singing, song writing, learning and playing music instruments and most importantly we have seen children develop positive childhood memories based on laughter, friendship, and mutual support. The shared experience has created a ‘micro’ family where young people are supporting and encouraging each other.
The programmes run by the Theatre really break down barriers, reach out, engage and enable young people to contribute their ideas and skills. They not only enhance the confidence and experience of children and young people but they are expanding their future aspirations. We have a young person, who is looked after, who is now firmly sighted on becoming a fashion designer.
In Social Services we have seen children develop and flourish through their involvement with the Theatre, sometimes the steps may seem small but we know they are huge leaps for the individual child. One young person has been able to tell his social worker what is important to him and the support he feels he needs by using a puppet show. This was inspired by his involvement with the Theatre, before this he did not contribute to his assessment, but now has found a way to communicate his feelings and aspirations to help us support him and his development. The possibilities of supporting our community are vast and matched by the unique ambition and creativity of the Theatre to be inclusive of all parts of our local community.”