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Wales Arts Review 3.19

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Before we get into the meat of what is another overflowing edition of Wales Arts Review this week, please take a moment to visit our indiegogo campaign page, where we are seeking to raise funds to maintain and develop our work, to continue to provide the best writing on the arts in Wales. Nobody in the last two and half years has played a bigger part in the success of Wales Arts Review than our readers, and we want to continue to provide top quality arts coverage. With just a simple donation, no matter how small, we can guarantee to help cover our costs for the next year. So please: help us keep up the good work.

It could not be more simple to donate. Just click HERE and follow the instructions. And thank you for your support.

But enough of that! The real reason we’re here…

Wales Arts Review 3.19 leads with an utterly engrossing conversation between our own Carl Griffin and one of Wales’ most fascinating literary figures, award-winning writer and adventurer John Harrison. Harrison discusses his long relationship with Arctic exploration and his new adventures in the Central American jungles.

But our globe-trotting doesn’t end there, even if the Antarctic is about as far as you can get.

We are extremely excited to also bring you this week the behind the scenes experiences of award-winning playwright Kaite O’Reilly from her recent in Taiwan in ‘Notes from a Rehearsal Diary: The 9 Fridas at Taipei Arts Centre’. Also from the notebooks of a traveller, we have a personal account from Claire Houguez as she re-found ‘ways to write’ whilst walking the streets of Berlin, in ‘Blocks that Only Operate on GMT’. And Colin Thomas is in the U.S. for the launch of his new app which seeks to plot the connections between Wales and America in ‘Dragon and Eagle: the Application of Two Nations’.

We are very proud to publish an article to mark Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, with a walk through ‘Jewish Culture in Wales Today’ from esteemed journalist and editor of Bimah, Barbara Michaels.

In an exceptionally exciting and busy time at the Wales Arts Review offices we are also able this week to draw to a close the nominations for our search for the Greatest Welsh Novel, with the final four titles. Through this week we have been publishing the final articles, and here we bring them together before our expert panel selects the shortlist and we open the public vote. The final four titles are: Jim Morphy on Angharad Price’s The Life of Rebecca Jones; Penny Thomas on the classic children’s fantasy, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne-Jones; Gary Raymond on the gothic horror of Sarah Waters’ The Little Strangers; and last but not least, Robert Minhinnick on Duncan Bush’s The Genre of Silence. Watch this space for the announcement of the shortlist next week.

Continuing our series of interviews with the leading figures in the field of Dylan Thomas studies, Jasper Rees talks to John Goodby, Professor of English at Swansea University and renowned Thomas expert, in a frank and open discussion about where Thomas stands in the literary pantheon, and about the industry surrounding his legacy. Also in conversation this issue, is former Boo Radleys’ writer and guitarist, the Cardiff-based Martin Carr, who talks to John Lavin about his upcoming new solo album, The Breaks, which Lavin also reviews here.

Leading on from that, in the world of opera this issue, Steph Power reviews WNO’s William Tell, and was also on hand to compare two current, simultaneous but unconnected Welsh productions of Bizet’s Carmen, one by WNO and one from Mid Wales Opera. The results are quite different.

Also on stage this issue, we have Molly Jones in Gwynedd reviewing a frustratingly empty production from National Theatre Wales, in Yr Helfa/ The Gathering. Gary Raymond saw the first venture from France’s Footsbarn Travelling Theatre Company into Wales for nearly 30 years, with their adaptation of Ken Kesey’s classic American novel, with Cuckoo’s Nest at the Wales Millennium Centre. And Julie Bainbridge caught Waking Exploits’ revival of Gary Owen’s Crazy Gary’s Mobile Disco at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff.

On screen, Gary Raymond sees BBC Four’s Welsh instalment of The Secret Life of Books on the Mabinogion as at best ‘an almighty slight to the gravitas of the subject’; whereas Hannah Lawson gives a very personal response to Pride, Matthew Warchus’ film about the miners’ strike.

In books, Charlotte Rogers finds far-reaching themes of language and ethics in Bête by Adam Roberts; Adam Somerset reviews A Celtic Canvas by Glyn Rhys from Y Iolfa; Lucy Windridge finds a very resonant story in Kathryn Simmonds’ debut novel, Love and Fallout; and Cath Barton reviews Fig and the Flute Player by Christine Henderson.

Banner illustration by Dean Lewis

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