Performances for the Curious is back for its second season at Wales Millennium Centre this autumn, with a programme of theatre and performance to celebrate individuality, promote diversity and showcase Welsh talent alongside some of the best international performers and boundary-pushing companies.
Audiences can unleash their curiosity by choosing from over 25 performances which span comedy, music, drag, theatre, cabaret, dance, storytelling and burlesque. From family-friendly shows to hard-hitting adult drama, Performances for the Curious runs from 6 October to 31 December across Wales Millennium Centre’s 250-seat Weston Studio theatre and its lively cabaret bar, ffresh.
Following on from the first Performances for the Curious season in spring which was largely led or inspired by female artists, this second season’s programme focuses on diversity, celebrating individuality and championing fair representation of our society on stage.
Season highlights from boundary-pushing companies include Tuck (24 Oct – 3 Nov) – Neontopia’s new bilingual play set in the Cardiff Drag scene, written by Alun Saunders; The Last Five Years (9 – 17 Nov) – a professional premiere in Wales for Leeway Productions’ version of Jason Robert Brown’s international hit musical, staged with integrated sign language and closed captioning for D/deaf audiences; and Bullish (20 – 24 Nov) – a mythical new play from Milk presents, exploring trans-masculine gender and identity, from the makers of smash hit Joan (Stage Award winner).
Closing the season with full glamour and glitz will be global cabaret sensation Le Gateau Chocolat, who presents two unique shows. Icons (18 – 22 Dec) is Le Gateau Chocolat’s latest work, exploring the songs and music of his personal icons, including Kate Bush, Whitney, Meatloaf and Pavarotti. While his second show, Duckie (20 – 31 Dec), is a family-friendly reimaging of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling, with a message of tolerance and self-acceptance at its core.
Sarah Leigh, General Manager: Arts and Creative at Wales Millennium Centre said:
“We’re buzzing with excitement for this Performances for the Curious season, after the success of our first season in spring which attracted lots of new people to the Centre as well as our loyal visitors. This autumn, we welcome world-renowned performer Le Gateau Chocolat and we host the premiere of a ground-breaking accessible production of The Last Five Years. We’re also proud to support Welsh artists and companies including Neontopia, our Centre residents Hijinx, and Connie Orff – our favourite bilingual Drag Queen! And productions such as Humanequin and Behind the Label show us the importance of how the arts can give a platform and a voice to those who need it most.”
The Performances for the Curious autumn season programme aims to promote diversity and support under-represented groups with having a voice on the stage. In Humanequin (20 – 24 Nov), three transgender actors ask audiences to just listen and hear their truth, in a play that has been created alongside members of TransForm Cymru and students from Radyr Comprehensive School to educate, challenge and provoke conversation about what it means to be trans in 2018.
Wales Millennium Centre, Theatre versus Oppression and The Wallich have been supporting a group of people from South Wales who have experienced misfortune – whether trauma, addiction, homelessness or mental health problems – through applied theatre project, Behind the Label (13 & 14 Dec). Culminating in a fully staged performance created by the group over an 18-week theatre skills programme, Behind the Label shares the real-life stories from society’s invisible people.
And writer, comedian and underclass amputee, Jackie Hagan, performs This is Not a Safe Space (1 Dec), a new solo show about life on disability benefits, featuring the real voices of proper skint disabled people Jackie knows. Winner of the 2018 Saboteur Award for Best Spoken Word Show, This is Not a Safe Space will be British Sign Language Interpreted and is commissioned and supported by Unlimited, celebrating the work of disabled artists.
As well as programming a diverse range of voices, there has been a real focus on increasing the offer of accessible performances in this autumn’s Performances for the Curious season. In The Last Five Years (9 – 17 Nov), director Angharad Lee of Leeway Productions has developed the concept of fully integrating sign language into the production with award-winning choreographer, Mark Smith, of Deaf Men Dancing. With British Sign Language organically embedded into the choreography throughout, plus closed captioning and a Touch Tour (13-17 Nov performances), The Last Five Years can be enjoyed by all.
British Sign Language Interpretation will also be offered for This is Not a Safe Space (1 Dec), Hijinx Odyssey’s sparkling new family production, Hansel, Gedeon and The Grimms’ Wood (6 – 8 Dec), which features a large cast of disabled and non-disabled performers, and Connie: Christmas is Orff (15 Dec), a new Christmas show from bilingual drag queen and host of this year’s Pride Cymru main stage, Connie Orff.
Every performance of Bullish (20 – 24 Nov) will be captioned using the Difference Engine app, making the show accessible for D/deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audiences, as well as those who struggle with spoken English. Audiences will be able to access the closed captions by downloading the app on their own hand-held device.
Audio Description will be available on the 7 December performance of Hijinx Odyssey’s Hansel, Gedeon and The Grimms’ Wood as well as the 21 December performance of Le Gateau Chocolat’s Icons.
And Relaxed Performances, designed for audiences with additional needs, including those on the autistic spectrum, will be held for Le Gateau Chocolat’s Icons on 21 December and for family show Duckie on 23 December (11am), 28 December (11am) and 30 December (3pm).
Supporting talent in Wales
As well as some of the brightest UK and international touring companies, the Performances for the Curious autumn season showcases many Wales-based companies and artists, including some who have received support from Wales Millennium Centre’s Artist Development programme. Through rehearsal space, mentoring, a programme of free workshops and hosting scratch nights (26 – 30 Nov) for works in progress, the Centre is continually supporting local artists to reach their potential.
Wales Millennium Centre has been supporting Welsh company Neontopia with the development of their new bilingual play Tuck, which opens the Performances for the Curious autumn season in cabaret space, ffresh on 24 October. Wales Millennium Centre have collaborated with Neontopia since 2015, recognising their ambition as a bilingual theatre company and their creative talent.
Alun Saunders, Neontopia co-founder and Writer of Tuck said:
“Tuck is a play about Drag, about ‘mainstream’ society’s new-found fascination with it, the joy it brings, and how the LGBT+ community – of whom I’m a fully paid-up member – adapts to the idea of being accepted, embraced and/or absorbed. It’s about what each of us – whoever we are – will do to protect ourselves.”
Mared Swain, Neontopia co-founder and Director of Tuck said:
“For many of us, we live on a linguistic spectrum where we speak, use, read, see or hear Cymraeg in our day-to-day lives – it’s a living language, and this bilingual life rightly deserves to be reflected in art. This is where Neontopia steps in – our challenge is to offer an exciting theatrical experience to those who are fluent in Welsh, are actively learning the language and to those with no knowledge of it.”
Alun also performs as bilingual drag artist, Connie Orff, and will be performing in ffresh for a special one-night Christmas show on 15 December.
Other Welsh artists and events in Wales Millennium Centre’s cabaret space, ffresh include: Black History Month with three consecutive Saturday evening events based on the Windrush Generation (6 Oct), African Dance, Tales and Tradition (13 Oct) and Youth Icons (20 Oct); Nelson Mandela: Songs and Stories (9 Nov) hosted by Cardiff’s Keith Murrell; Butetown’s own Leroy Brito, with his brand new show 3 Dads (16 & 17 Nov); Hello Cabaret (23 Nov), Cardiff’s regular cabaret night; Welsh showgirl Rachel Williams (24 Nov); Tiger Bay Presents (29 & 30 Nov ) who return with Reggae, Soul and African inspired sounds from Cardiff musicians; Cardiff Cabaret Club present Ffresh Burlesque (1 Dec); Cappuccino Girls (6 Dec) starring BBC Radio Wales’ Mal Pope;Cabarela Nadolig (13 Dec) with a festive night of cabaret performed in Welsh; and Cardiff-based cabaret collective Mary Bijou (14 Dec) are back with their annual Christmas extravaganza.
Get festive in ffresh
As well as a host of Welsh talent, audiences in ffresh can enjoy a selection of live jazz, bop and boogaloo with Clifford Brown / Max Roach Revisited (8 Nov), London’s Fraser & The Alibis (22 Nov) and King for a Day: The Nat King Cole Story (7 Dec) featuring jazz vocalist, Atila. House of Broadway (10 Nov) will be serving up musical theatre classics performed by a West End cast. And New York’s Tori Scott flies in with her hilarious Christmas show Vodka is the Reason for the Season (8 Dec), including songs by Dolly Parton, Madonna, Michael Jackson and more.
Wales Millennium Centre welcomes new Head of Food and Beverage, Marc Simcox, who has helped to create a new Cabaret Menu for this autumn’s Performances for the Curious season. The menu features Small Plates, Snacks and Boards, with a large selection of Welsh products and special food and drink offers to give audiences a full evening entertainment experience. Plus 2-for-1 cocktails are available in ffresh every day.
With a programme of live jazz, cabaret, burlesque, comedy and more from 6 October to 15 December, visitors can feed their mind, belly and soul in ffresh this festive season.
For more information on this autumn’s Performances for the Curious season at Wales Millennium Centre from 6 October to 31 December, please visit wmc.org.uk/curious or call 029 2063 6464