Community development charity, Valleys Kids, gave me the experience of a lifetime and a challenge that became a pinnacle of Alpine proportions. Firstly as a writer, to create a piece with a cast of hundreds that would span two countries, Wales and South Africa, and would fill my every waking moment for four years.
Somehow on a vertical ride over Llanwonno mountain, I plucked an idea out of Valley altitude that included Zulu, Nelson Mandela and the London Olympics that gathered momentum and rolled into a spectacular piece of theatre on the Donald Gordon stage, WMC in Cardiff and Artscape theatre in Cape Town.
For me, the simple but hugely ambitious idea ballooned and blossomed into a runaway vehicle for talents and skills I was barely aware I possessed, let alone had the confidence to use.
Firstly, my comfort zone as a writer was exploded, when in the blink of a scene shift I had to adapt from writing for five actors to writing for a youth theatre, two circus groups, three dance groups, giant puppets, professional actors from Wales and South Africa and the lyrics for a specially written song cycle .
I took my mind off this task by also taking on the role of Artistic Co-ordinator, mainly as I was the only person who pretended to fully understand the whole concept and premise of the project. When the wood was closing in on the trees, I diverted attention from my growing deficiencies by deciding that I would also be overall Artistic Director of the piece. I only got away with this act of outrageous megalomania by surrounding myself with experts in every field and now and then standing on a box and declaiming in a vaguely inspirational fashion like a Welsh Genghis Khan. Lame attempts at being funny also helped. That, and having several friends and members of your family was also a bonus.
In the end it was hugely uplifting, unbearably emotional, physically exhausting, sporadically traumatic, ceaselessly surprising, fundamentally life- changing. It was something you couldn’t repeat, and something I would do again tomorrow.