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Sunday, 10 March 2013

Blue Books for the 21st Century?

Over the past year it seems I've done nothing but comment on MTV's reality show 'The Valleys.' The Valleys Are Here campaign asked me to write a piece for their website in response to MTV's initial press release, which I did. The result was How Green is MTV? The same piece was published in The Western Mail the week the show first aired. Late October Dirty Protest theatre presented a response in drama to the show, with seven new plays from Patrick Jones, Carmen Stephens, Sam Bees, Alun Saunders, Tim Price, Kelsey Richards and myself. The plays were definitively reviewed by Dylan Moore at Wales Arts Review. In order to publicise the plays We Are Cardiff
asked me to write a small piece about my hometown, Treorchy. (It was the first time they'd featured a place outside the city.) Finally I wrote a piece for the spring issue of Planet Magazine entitled Blue Books for the 21st Century.

With hindsight I don't think I meant to be so scathing about the programme. Unfortunately there is an audience for MTV's The Valleys. There are also plenty of young people living in the south Wales valleys who's behaviour resembles the cast of the first series of the show, as you might expect in a place which has become a living monument to the failure of Capitalism. But there are many young people who have not been represented by MTV. Budding academics, master chocolatiers, aspirant scientists hoping to follow Aberdare's creator of the Hadron Collider into the world of physics to advance human undersanding of the deepest laws of nature, (as I noted in Planet.) But what use are they to a television executive who's aim is to turn the working classes into cheap comedy fodder? If nothing else I hope my writing on the subject has alerted people to the myth that the former coalmining valleys are somehow pastoral or rural. They are anything but. The mention of the word 'coalmine' should serve to remind the reader that industrialsation must have occured.

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Friday, 11 May 2012

Christmas in May

My short story Christmas '83/A Mother's Christmas in Wales, originally written for In Chapters, was broadcast recently on BBC Radio 4. You have a limited amount of time to listen to the story again.

Also I had the pleasure recently of reviewing the Library of Wales edition of Gwyn Thomas' All Things Betray Thee for Planet 206. You can read part of the review on the Parthian website.

Since the beginning of the year I've been thoroughly enjoying training to play roller derby and am now a greenhorn in training for Rhondda Cynon Taff's first amateur derby team, the Valleys Roller Dolls. My derby name is Tuff Mckagan. Although I've had to take a short sabbatical due to writing commitments, I am currently doll of the month. I get back on the track this July.

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Saturday, 4 February 2012

Fresh Apples to go on tour

Teenagehood in all its transience and emotional intensity will be brought to life on stage during a new touring production by Cwmni Theatr Fran Wen. The company is producing 'Fala' Surion', a Welsh-language adaptation of Rachel Trezise's acclaimed 'Fresh Apples'.

The cast includes Mold-born Rhodri Meilir, who appeared in the BBC hit comedy 'My Family' and Terry Pratchett's 'Hogfather' on Sky One. Also starring are Pobl y Cwm's Catrin Mara and Rhodri Miles, who won the Best International Artist award at the 2010 Hollywood Fringe Festival for his portrayal of Welsh icon Richard Burton in the one-man show 'Burton'. Other actors include Lowri Gwynne from S4C's 'Rownd a Rownd', stage actress Lynwen Haf Roberts and Carys Eleri. The production is being directed by Iola Ynyr who was supported by Manon Eames and Catrin Cafydd who translated the work from English to Welsh.

For the full story go to WalesArts, and for a full list of the tour dates and ticket information please visit Cwmni'r Fran Web.

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Thursday, 5 January 2012

New Neale Howells Shows

John Martin Gallery, London and Edward Cutler, Milan are delighted to present the first major show of Welsh artist, Neale Howells, for almost four years. The exhibition, 'American Mama Gun Run' is divided into two parts throughout February with works also being previewed at Arte Fiera Bologna at the end of January.

Part 1. John Martin Gallery, London 3rd - 25th Feb 2012
Part 2. Edward Cutler Gallery, Milan 9th Feb - 4th March 2012
(Arte Fiera Bologna, 27th - 30th January 2012)

Above: Neale Howells - Captain America vs. the rest of the world. (2011) Acrylic, oil, pastel and pencil on wood 175x490 cms.


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Monday, 19 December 2011

The Silent Village goes to Prague

'The Silent Village: Humphrey Jennings / Peter Finnemore / Rachel Trezise / Paolo Ventura, will be curated by Russell Roberts for the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague. The exhibition opens on January 11 2012 and a symposium is planned to coincide with the exhibition in March 2012 to explore the roles of art and literature to reflect on historical memory. This exhibition coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Lidice atrocity which Humphrey Jenning's original film sought to evoke in his 1943 film of the same name; responses by leading artists Finnemore and Ventura along with the meomrable prose fiction of Trezise, introduce a number of strategies to examine the significance of the film as history and its contemporary relevance.'

More info here: http://www.dox.cz/en/exhibition?85/about

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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Coventry Inspiration Book Award

My quick read title, 'Loose Connections' has been nominated for the Coventry Inspiration Book Award. If you've read and enjoyed it please take a moment to vote for it following this link. Thank you! Your support is very much appreciated.

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Thursday, 15 September 2011

A Piece of Me

I, along with the Children's Commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler, was honoured to open 'A Piece of Me', a Barnado's Cymru Seraf Service exhibition of young people's artwork and film, at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff, last Friday. The exhibition remains open until Thursday 29th September, after which it will go on tour. If you get a chance to see it, please do.

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