We are delighted to announce the names of those who have gained a place on Awenau, a new, Welsh-language training and mentorship scheme for theatre directors. The successful individuals are Mirain Fflur, Nia Morris, Gethin Roberts and Elen Mair Thomas.
The aim of Awenau is to nurture the talent of new Welsh-speaking theatre directors, to ensure that individuals feel ready and confident enough to take hold firmly of the wheel and lead on exciting theatre projects in the future. The scheme is part of Theatr Gen Creu, our enterprise to support the development of theatre artists, to facilitate the development of new, ambitious theatre work, and to promote talent.
A large number of applications were received, and it was a very difficult task to choose between them. As part of the scheme, there will be opportunities for the four successful directors to spend residential periods with the company, attend master-classes with experienced theatre directors, offer and develop new ideas with the company, and undertake practical opportunities to work as assistant directors on some of our productions.
We’re also very glad to be able to offer the Awenau directors an opportunity to direct readings of plays written by the members of our New Playwrights’ Group (Grŵp Dramodwyr Newydd), as part of its current tour, Theatr Gen Creu Ar Daith: Pwy ’Sgrifennodd Honna? between 11 June and 3 July. We’re pleased to be able to extend this opportunity to three additional new directors, namely Eddie Ladd, Rhian Blythe and Nico Dafydd, who will also be receiving some support through the Awenau scheme. More information about this tour is available here.
Over the coming months, we will also be offering opportunities to other promising applicants for this scheme to receive training, to develop ideas with the company, and to enjoy various experiences such as shadowing, assisting and directing under mentorship.
Awenau is sponsored through generous contributions from two funds that were set up in memory of two leading members of the Welsh theatre community, namely the Elinor Wyn Roberts Memorial Fund and the Graham Laker Memorial Fund.
Originally from Llandegla, Denbighshire, Elinor Wyn Roberts (1954–1989) also s[pent some of her early ears in Brumbo and Dyserth. She joined Cwmni Theatr Cymru, where she worked as a stage manager; then worked as a stage manager too for Cwmni Theatr Bara Caws, before going on to run Hwyl a Fflag for a short while. She also worked on television drama production teams, as a production manager, and as a trainee director for a while.
Catrin Edwards, one of Elinor’s close friends and a founder member of the memorial fund, said: “After Elinor’s death, a group of us decided to set up a fund that would offer funding to support young women at the start of their journey in the theatre in Wales – something that was an important part of El’s short life, and very close to her heart. I’m sure she would have been delighted that the fund is now being used to support Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru’s Awenau scheme.”
Graham Laker (1949–2001) was born and brought up in Brighton and Hove, in the south-east of England. Following a period as Assistant Stage Manager at the Haymarket Theatre, Leicester, he was appointed as lecturer in the Drama Department of the University College of North Wales, Bangor. At the end of the 1980s, by which time he was a fluent Welsh speaker, he was appointed as Artistic Director of Cwmni Theatr Gwynedd, a company in which he himself had played an important role in its foundation.
Valmai Jones, one of the founders of the memorial fund, said, “Graham was passionate about theatre, especially theatre in the Welsh language. He worked hard for many years to enrich the provision for theatre audiences in Wales and to support directors, playwrights and actors. Everyone who benefitted from his support and enthusiasm will, I’m certain, be delighted – as Graham himself would have been – that the fund set up in his memory will be used to support the directors of the future through Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru’s Awenau scheme.”
Arwel Gruffydd, our Artistic Director, said: “Nurturing and inspiring the next generation of Welsh theatre artists is a vital part of Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru’s work. I am, therefore, very pleased to see so many promising prospective directors starting out on their careers as theatre directors under the auspices of the Awenau scheme. I would like to convey my sincere thanks to the funds set up in memory of Elinor Wyn Roberts and Graham Laker for their support for the scheme, enabling us to extend access to theatre directing for a new generation of artists. Losing Elinor and Graham, several years ago, was a bitter blow to the Welsh-language theatre community. It is a huge privilege for us as a company to be able – thanks to the generous contributions from both these memorial funds – to support new directors as they develop their craft at the beginning of their journey.”
11 June 2019