Monthly Archives: April 2013

BIKE BLOG 1st June 2013

Why don’t writers look out of the window in the morning? Because they’d have nothing to do in the afternoon. This is the only writers’ joke I know and it’s not really that funny and neither is it true, because I always look out of the window in the morning to check whether I can go out on my bike in the afternoon.

This is the topography of the writer’s day; a landscape where we constantly search for things to do other than putting a pen to paper. Doing the washing up, filling the washing machine, hanging out clothes, checking the weather forecast then bringing them back in again; there is a whole litany of airtime to fill before we can reward ourselves and switch on Pointless. Personally, I ride my bike. Which is not pointless at all.

Blog pic.In spite of what cynics may say, riding a bike is not displacement activity but an essential element in the writing process. In fact the point of riding a bike is to write plays. I ride therefore I write. As a mental aid, I am actually riding my bike now and writing this introductory blog. And as a visual aid, here is a photograph of the biking blogger high above Gilfach Goch testing my nascent camera phone prowess. This is a moment of disturbing epiphany, as I realise at moments of acute concentration, I poke my tongue out. The epiphany being that I must concentrate less and relax more.

As I look at this unsettling image another realisation dawns over my shoulder. There, in the legendary village of Gilfach, otherwise known as the town where the tarmac ends – there’s a lot of them in the Valleys – is the site of my first working experience in Wales. In an old, leaky, near derelict junior school in the early eighties, I rehearsed the part of Giovanni in Can’t Pay Won’t Pay for Spectacle Theatre.

I remember from photographs, that this was where my moustache made its first appearance as a gay Greek waiter, even though I was supposed to be playing a Welsh Italian. But it made people wet themselves with laughter, gave me a lifelong love of olives and a near psychotic aversion to moustaches.

Spectacle Theatre, still with us and fighting back from swingeing Arts funding cuts, then contained such luminaries as Jamie Garven, now acting guru at the Royal Welsh College Of Music and Drama, Clare Hudson, Queen of all she surveys  at BBC Wales and Lynn Hunter who has become Wales’s answer to Bette Davis – or possibly Joan Crawford.

If they could see me now.  And of course they will as they’ll be unable to resist the lure of a sighting of a monstrous  Peloponnesian moustache as I traverse the Valleys like some camp, cycling Zorba.  In fact, as an introductory passage into this website and biking blog, I propose to revisit every venue on that rock ’n’ roll Spectacle tour of 1983. Some places so far flung and remote I will have time to grow a pretty credible replica of the original moustache. Watch this Bloggy Bit, because I’m coming to a mountain probably nowhere near you.


Review of Cape Town Production: Torchbearers

Torchbearers -full cast  + choir + musicians in Cape Town

Torchbearers -full cast + choir + musicians in Cape Town

“The words are theirs, the dream is ours” the Zulu narrator of Torchbearers calls out. His words reverberate through different generations and across diverse cultures as we piece together the
story of two star-crossed lovers from very different walks of life.

Last night’s show of Torchbearers at the Artscape Theatre blew me away. Not only was the acting incredible from the diverse cast of South African and Welsh performers; but the story, the costumes, the choreography – everything was awe-inspiring.

The musical tells the story of two young lovers: Thembesile, a young Zulu girl, and Gerwyn, a Welsh actor, who meet on the set of the 1964 classic film, Zulu, in Johannesburg. The two fall in love but are torn asunder by apartheid and destined never to see one another again. Although they spend years apart and lead completely separate lives, their longing for one another never diminishes and we share their hope of a future together. We experience not only their past but also how it shapes their present and future. We watch as their children and grandchildren grow up in the same world they did but experience it differently due to the immense changes that have occurred since their own youth.

Without exception all the actors did a brilliant job, but the two leads, Zoliswa Euphonia Kawe and Nathan Sussex, did a particularly remarkable job reliving the memories and showcasing the hurt and loss their characters both experienced in their lives.

This beautiful story was written and directed by Laurence Allan who was inspired by his own experiences watching Zulu as a child. With the help of Valleys Kids, a community development charity, his intention was to unite the youth of the South Wales Valleys (one of the most deprived areas in Europe) with South Africa’s townships through a blend of acting, circus performance, dance, music and song. And he has succeeded superbly. This hodge podge of creativity blends together to create a truly beautiful work of art that celebrates and brings together two very diverse cultures.

And it’s this amazing combination of all forms of creativity that calls upon the skills of many local South African companies. The dancers are from the local upliftment project Dance For All and, choreographed by Christoper Kindo, they effortlessly dominate the stage encapsulating the raw emotion of the actors, providing a beautiful backdrop to all the scenes. Combined with the stylised sounds of the Cape Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, the alluring vocals of the Fezeka Voice choir and the amazing feats of the Zip Zap Circus School, this show has it all. Rich in cultural history and a beautiful fusion of two cultures, this heartfelt story shouldn’t be missed.

REVIEW by Claire Pokorchak
- What’s On in Cape Town

Torchbearers was at the Artscape Theatre 8 – 11 November 2012.