We are delighted to announce the names of the six artists who have been selected to receive the Idea Development Bursary. The artists are: Mared Jarman; Bev Lennon; Ifan Pleming; Emma Daman Thomas; Kallum Weyman and Sara Louise Wheeler.
The Idea Development Bursary is a new scheme that gives artists identifying with specific characteristics that have been under-represented in our work, an opportunity to start developing an idea for a new play or theatre production with the support of the company. This scheme will help the company get to know people, to provide opportunities for artists who are new to the company, and to better represent Wales’s diverse communities in our work.
Following a two-step application process, a panel was formed from members of our team and specialists in the sector – namely Nia Edwards-Behi, Dan Jones and Denni Turp – in order to read and discuss the various applications. The six artists selected have now started work on their ideas with the company. The artists’ biographies can be seen below.
Arwel Gruffydd, our Artistic Director, said:
“This initiative was created as a direct response to the need for us as a company to increase the diversity of the artists with whom we work. I’m very pleased with the ideas and the artists selected by the panel. Each of the six artists are new to us as a company (as playwrights or leading artists) and their ideas represent a wide variety, exceptional vision, ambition and confidence. Some of the artists want to get to grips with challenging topics in an imaginative and inventive way, whilst others seek to create entertaining and humorous work. I’m looking forward immensely to seeing how these ideas will evolve over the year ahead, and to get to know the artists better.”
We have recently introduced two bursary schemes – the Idea Development Bursary and the Artist and Community Bursary – in order to invest in freelance artists and theatre workers during this difficult time, and to get to know new artists.
More information about both bursaries will be available in the near future.
As part of this bursary, Mared will be working on a tragic comedy about the relationship between two best friends who are trying to discover and understand their identity as young disabled people in a world that idolizes and prioritizes the mainstream.
Mared Jarman is an actor and writer from Cardiff. She will be graduating this year from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama with an MA in acting. She received a scholarship and support from the Prince of Wales Trust. Mared is a founder member of UCAN Productions, an arts company that has won several awards for their theatre work with children and young people with vision impairment. When she was ten years old, Mared was given a diagnosis of the condition Stargadt’s. As an artist and writer, she strives to ‘normalise’ disability within our society and to provide a platform for those lost voices that deserve to be heard. Her work for theatre includes: Double Vision (Gagglebabble in partnership with Wales Millennium Centre for the Festival of Voice 2018); Theatr Unnos (Neontopia and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru for the National Eisteddfod of Wales 2018); Bachu (Melangell Dolma, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru and Theatr Clwyd, in partnership with the National Eisteddfod of Wales and the Wales Millennium Centre). Recently she has appeared in a short film, Cardiff, I Love You with the BBC and Ffilm Cymru Wales, and currently she is filming Yr Amgueddfa, a new series by Fflur Dafydd and BOOM Cymru, for S4C.
As part of this bursary, Bev is working on a play about an interracial couple and their soul-searching regarding relationships, race and identity.
Bev Lennon was brought up in London as part of a Caribbean family. She spent some time as a comedy performer, and in 1987 she moved to Barry where she learnt to speak Welsh. She was a Welsh learner on Catchphrase (BBC Radio Wales) before having her own show, Bev (BBC Radio Cymru). She became a Welsh teacher and Equalities Officer in 1997. Her written work includes a television comedy sketch for The Real McCoy (BBC), and a poem ‘The Consultation’ in the book Allan o’r Golwg (Disability Arts Cymru). She was made a member of the Gorsedd of Bards at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in 2019. In 2020, she benefitted from Literature Wales’s Support Fund to help her to continue writing her book. She hopes to develop her work as a scriptwriter.
As part of this bursary, Ifan is working on a piece that looks at disability in a lighthearted and satirical manner reflecting the way in which he, as a disabled person, looks at the stereotyping occurring in our society in relation to disabilities.
Having been educated at Ysgol Pentreuchaf, Ysgol Glan y Môr, Pwllheli, and Coleg Meirion Dwyfor, Ifan moved to Cardiff in 2005 to study Welsh and Law, before graduating with an MA in Creative Writing. For many years he was a member of the Aberhafren team on Talwrn y Beirdd. He has been successful in local eisteddfodau and at the Urdd National Eisteddfod, including winning the Jennie Eirian Award, and won the Crown at the Inter-Collegiate Eisteddfod. He is currently living back in Llithfaen, the village in which he was born, and working as a translator for the Welsh Government.
Emma Daman Thomas
As part of this bursary, Emma will be developing a new work for performance connecting music, language and diasporic experience.
Emma Daman Thomas is a multi-disciplinary artist and performer based in Radnorshire. She’s a founding member of collaborative band Islet, where she sings and plays various instruments and whose third album Eyelet came out in 2020 on Fire Records. Previous theatre work includes as an actor musician in NTW’s Candylion (2015) and Be Aware Productions Enough Is Enough (2016); and research for NTW’s Sisters (2017), which explored the identities and experiences of South Asian women in India and Wales. Current projects include a new experimental music composition supported by Tŷ Cerdd and music for visual artist Freya Dooley’s Jerwood Arts exhibition. Emma also creates artwork for music and her visual practice runs alongside and into her music, sound and performance work. She is currently learning how to speak Welsh and how to play the harp.
As part of this bursary, Kallum is working on a nightmarish, existential, post-apocalyptic play.
Kallum Weyman is a non-binary, autistic playwright and director. They are currently studying at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David for a Masters through the medium of Welsh in directing for theatre. Kallum wrote their recent play Train Track Issues over the past year as part of The Other Room’s Emerging Writers Scheme. As Welsh is Kallum’s second language, they are looking forward to improving their writing skills in Welsh. They enjoy working in all creative media and seek to write completely different pieces for every project in which they are involved.
Dr Sara Louise Wheeler
As part of this bursary, Sara is working on a Bildungsroman opera called ‘Y Dywysoges Arian’ (The Silver Princess) about a character named Glesni, who is learning to live in her skin as it transforms, as everything changes, and as she falls between two worlds: the hearing world and the Deaf world.
Dr Sara Louise Wheeler has Waardenburg Syndrome Type 1, a rare genetic condition which affects her physical appearance and her hearing. Sara is currently exploring her embodied experiences and the associated social, political and medical implications, using a variety of scholarly and creative mediums, including poetry, belles lettres and artwork. Her current research includes studying cynghanedd and sign language poetry – both of which will feature in ‘Y Dywysoges Arian’. In 2020, Sara established Gwasg y Gororau and published her first volume of poetry Rwdlan a Bwhwman, which is now available to download for free from the Gwasg y Gororau website.
28 January 2021