After 11 years leading Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, Arwel Gruffydd will stand down as the company’s Artistic Director in May 2022.
Arwel Gruffydd said:
“It is no exaggeration to say that leading Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru over the past ten years and more has been the the greatest honour I could ever have imagined and undoubtedly the highpoint of my career. Naturally, it has been challenging at times – and none more so than during the past year – but it has also been an enormous pleasure. I’ve had the honour of being able to fulfll several of my personal ambitions whilst also working alongside so many exceptional artists and talented and committed colleagues, and I have also been challenged to look anew at several aspects of the work and my own vision. There remains plenty to do during my remaining nine months as we strive to help overcome the crisis that still affects the industry, but also as we hopefully see things falling back into place, with audiences returning to our theatres; and I look forward to sharing the company’s ambitious programme of work to come in that time. Beyond that, on a more personal note, I’m looking forward to diverse and exciting new projects and opportunities to challenge and inspire me and where I can bring to bear the skills that I’ve developed and the experiences that I’ve enjoyed during my time at Theatr Gen.”
Efa Gruffydd Jones, Chair of Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, said:
“Undoubtedly, the company is extremely indebted to Arwel for his leadership and vision over the past decade. His passion for developing high-quality Welsh Theatre is clear to everyone, and I wish him well in his future challenges. Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru has been set on very robust foundations for the future, thanks to Arwel’s commitment and enthusiasm.”
Arwel joined Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru in 2011 as Artistic Director and Chief Executive. Originally from Tanygrisiau near Blaenau Ffestiniog, Arwel graduated from Bangor University then trained as an actor at the Webber Douglas Academy, London. He was a professional actor for eighteen years before joining Sgript Cymru as Literary Manager in 2005 and was appointed Associate Director with Sherman Cymru where he worked between 2008 and 2011. In 2002 he won two prestigious awards, a BAFTA Cymru Best Actor Award for his work on the series Treflan for S4C, and the D.M. Davies Award at the Wales International Film Festival for his work as author and director of the film Cyn Elo’r Haul.
His work as director for Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru includes some of the company’s highlights over the past ten years: Y Tad, Macbeth, Chwalfa, Y Fenyw Ddaeth o’r Môr, Y Bont, Blodeuwedd and Sgint. Also, in co-production with the Sherman Theatre, Arwel was the director for Llwyth and, more recently, Tylwyth by Daf James – two innovative productions that saw a celebration of LGBT stories and characters on the Welsh theatre stage in a way that had never been seen before.
During his time with the company, Arwel has consistently presented a varied programme that has entertained audiences throughout Wales, often pushing the boundaries of Welsh theatre in terms of form and content; he also presented a programme of exciting participation events and innovative schemes to develop skills within the theatre sector in Wales. This period also featured a number of memorable co-productions with other theatre companies, and the company has established a number of influential strategic partnerships with several other organisations such as the National Eisteddfod of Wales, the Urdd National Eisteddfod and S4C. The company has also taken the lead in developing technical resources in the theatre, the most notable being Sibrwd, the innovative language access resource.
Recently, Arwel has led Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru through one of the most difficult periods in its history, due to the world-wide pandemic. With the cancellation of an extensive programme of live theatre events, the company forged ahead to present a wide-ranging digital programme in order to support artists and theatre workers in Wales during the COVID-19 crisis, and to offer a varied programme to audiences in Wales and beyond. During this recent challenging period the company has also created several opportunities to develop the skills of the theatre workforce in Wales and to get to grips with shortcomings regarding diversity and inclusivity in Welsh-language theatre.