Sherman Theatre is this week releasing work by different communities from across South Wales providing a digital stage for three pieces created by a diverse range of powerful but often under-represented and unheard community voices. Each project sees members of a community talk about their world, in their words. The projects bring together the differing perspectives and experience of both older and younger community members, representing a platform for voices which need to be heard.
The first release is Love Letters: a collection of beautiful letters to Cardiff, written by some of the city’s older people. In Autumn 2020, Sherman Theatre’s Sherman 5 programme worked with Age Cymru’s Gwanwyn Festival to gather these letters as part of Sherman Theatre’s Heart of Cardiff season. Many heartfelt notes full of cherished memories were submitted, a selection of which have been recorded as an audio performance. The letters are read by Welsh actors Julie Barclay, Siwan Morris (Dublin Carol, Sherman Theatre), and Dean Rehman. The readings are directed by Bridget Keehan (A Night in the Clink Papertrail / Sherman Theatre). Released on St Dwynwen’s Day, 25 January, the recordings are available at www.heartofcardiff.co.uk alongside the full collection of written letters.
The perspectives of younger people are brought to the fore in two further projects: Young Queens and Tydfil Truths. Young Queens are a group of Welsh Somali writers and performers aged 11-14. In response to the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, they have written four powerful poems that explore what it means to be a young Welsh Somali today. Under the guidance of Liana Stewart, Hibo Ahmed Hussein and Izzy Rabey, the writers developed concepts to turn their poems into films. The resulting four short films have been produced in association with Hayaat Women Trust and Sherman Theatre supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation and will be released on Wed 27 Jan on www.shermantheatre.co.uk
Tydfil Truths is the latest collaboration between Sherman Theatre and The College, Merthyr Tydfil, following Tydfil Tales, which saw UAL Performing Arts students turn their conversations with local care home residents into a haunting inter-generational audio drama. In Tydfil Truths, the focus shifts to the young people themselves as they talk about how they see the world right now and the issues that matter most to them. Participant Esther Usher said “I have thoroughly enjoyed working on Tydfil Truths. Previously, in terms of where I stand in society, I have become used to being told to "sit down" and "shut up", however through the process of making this production I have learnt that I do indeed have a voice and I intend to use it in the future.” The play will be available to stream for free from Fri 29 Jan at www.shermantheatre.co.uk. Tydfil Truths was a project funded by The College Merthyr Tydfil and National Lottery Awards For All Wales, with additional support from Sherman Theatre.
Sherman Theatre’s Artistic Director Joe Murphy said “Sherman Theatre is dedicated to representing our communities on our stages. Over the past year, our stages have changed, but our ethos remains the same. There are many different voices in our extended community and it is important to us that we use our platform to promote and celebrate the voices of our community that widely go unheard.”
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