Tagged: Pontypridd

ChainWorks Productions – a new link in the chain

In November 2013,  I bit the bullet and did something I should have done 20 years ago. I forged my own company. ChainWorks Productions is a direct legacy of the Mzansi Cymru project building on similar surprising collaborations and rooted to its cultural history, past and present but always looking outward and to the future.

iconic-pic.560-150x150ChainWorks Productions takes its name from the iconic Brown and Lenox Chain works factory in Pontypridd. A powerhouse company of the Industrial Revolution that built chains and cables for the navy, using local resources and sent them all over the world.

Our Vision is to build  innovative links and creative collaborations between artists and organisations from within the community and beyond, to produce high calibre work, which stirs, engages and inspires audiences.


Theatre Plays

Excerpt from: The New Companion to the Literature of Wales – editor Meic Stephens

‘Born 1954 in Pontypridd, Mid Glamorgan. His passionate, humane and sometimes angry concern for the plight of ordinary people is evident in much of his writing. Above all he articulates feelings of disempowerment experienced by those who find themselves caught up in economic and political changes beyond their control. Although the world he presents is often bleak, his plays are also characterized by mordant black humour and an affectionate, sharp ear for the idiomatic English of South Wales.’

1985    ‘Over the Wall and Back Again’, Writer & Director Made in Wales,

1986    Duel at Twilight, Spectacle Theatre

1988    A Blow to Bute Street’, Sherman Theatre

1990    ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’, Made in Wales/Theatr Clwyd/Sherman

1991    The Valley of the Kings is a Community Play about Pontypridd

1994     ‘On the Road Again’, Hijinx Theatre, Wales & England Tour (published by Seren books)

1996     ‘Stairway to Heaven’, Hijinx Theatre, Wales & England Tour

1997     ‘Dangerous Acquaintances’  Hijinx Theatre, Wales & England Tour

1997    ‘Cradle to the Grave’   Welsh College of Music and Drama & Made in Wales. (published by Seren books)

2002            Angels Don’t Need Wings’ Hijinx Theatre 21st Anniversary production @ ShermanTheatre

2002                ‘More than just a Game’ -  Plymouth Theatre Royal, Young People’s Company

2004                ‘For Ever’ – Adaptation of Short Story – Plymouth Theatre Royal

2004                ‘Flowers from Tunisia’Theatr y Byd

2005                ‘If you can’t sing, stand at the back of the hall.’ - Plymouth Theatre Royal/York Theatre Royal & Unicorn Theatre, London                                                                        

2009                Stairway To Heaven On The Edge – tour.

2009               Gladiator – Spectacle Theatre /RCT Commssion – ongoing

2010            The Day Stanley Baker Died The Zulus Rapped on Llanwonno Mountain(Writer & Director) Mzansi Cymru showcase, Soar Centre, Penygraig      

2011                   Life on Robben Island (Writer & Director) – Unusual Stage School, Disability Arts Cymru + Valleys Kids collaboration: Mzansi Cymru, Glanfa Stage, WMC

2011            Flowers from Tunisia, Torch Theatre + Wales Tour

2011            ‘Torchbearers’ Showcase, (Writer & Director)  Zip Zap Circus,                    Cape Town, South Africa

2012               Torchbearers’ (Writer & Director)  Donald Gordon Theatre, WMC & Artscape Theatre, Cape Town, South Africa

About Me

The 2000 L'etape du Tour Carpentras to Mont Ventoux

The 2000 L’etape du Tour Carpentras to Mont Ventoux

For the forty years that constitutes my adult life I have been writing plays, riding bikes and trying to cook the perfect Sunday dinner. I am not sure which has provided the more joy and heartache but somehow writing plays has become my career though I sometimes wonder whether one of the other pursuits may have been more remunerative.

I practice all of these dark arts in Pontypridd, the town in the heart of the South Wales Valleys where I was born and where I have chosen to live. I trained as a teacher in Manchester, before running away to join the theatre as an actor. This was with precious little experience, as the first play I saw, I was also in; but then the first play I went on to write, I also directed, operated the lights and drove the van that transported the set and the actors. This was OVER THE WALL AND BACK AGAIN, a story set in the 1985 miners’ strike about a miner’s wife in the Rhondda running the London marathon. Strangely, this instigated the reverse journey from London, where I was living, back home to South Wales.

For the next twenty five years I followed the well signposted route of received wisdom where you write plays and hand them over to a director.

A route that brought me regular commissions, a few accolades and even some awards. These have included the 2007 Theatre Wales Award for best new play FLOWERS FROM TUNISIA which dealt with dementia and managed in the words of critics, to be both funny and moving, and for radio the Broken and Blue award for my BBC Radio 3 play, I THOUGHT I HEARD BUDDY BOLDEN SHOUT with a soundtrack by Rob Smith and featuring South African trumpeter, Claude Deppa.

Both music and comedy have been prevailing backdrops to all my plays from an octogenarian, black saxophonist in A BLOW TO BUTE STREET for the Sherman Theatre, to three Marianne Faithfulls (who I had the privilege of meeting in Cardiff) in DANGEROUS AQUAINTANCES for Hijinx Theatre.

This fusion of drama and music reached a dizzying height with TORCHBEARERS, a project initiated by local charity, Valleys Kids that linked the Valleys of south Wales with the Townships of Capetown, as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. This involved up to two hundred performers and musicians, with music by Paula Gardiner, in a production that played in the Donald Gordon Theatre in the Wales Millennium Centre and Artscape Theatre in Cape Town in a Co-production with Artscape thanks to the support of Michael Maas and Marlene le Roux. I also did my best to make it funny.

More importantly this was a play where I reclaimed my right to directorship and plotted a different route to the future where I would like to go against the grain and direct my own plays. Of course this will struggle to gain precedence over riding my bike over Welsh mountains while seeking the answer to life’s eternal dilemma. Do Yorkshire puddings have any place alongside roast chicken?