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Wales Arts Review 3.24: The End of Year Special

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Welcome to Wales Arts Review 3.24, our End of Year Special. But before we start casting our eyes back over 2014, we would first like to bring you what is both our lead article this week, and is immediately one of our highlights of the year: Gary Raymond in conversation with Sarah Waters. Fresh off the back of the critical acclaim for her sixth novel, The Paying Guests, Sarah discusses her career, her craft, her Welsh roots, and her latest reason to return, her first play. A joint production between the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff and the Birmingham Hippodrome, The Frozen Scream is a 1920s murder mystery with a difference.

And so, once you have soaked up one of Sarah Waters’ most searching interviews, we have a jam-packed issue for you this week, not only with our usual articles and reviews, but with highlights and reflections of the whole of 2014.

Our writers have chosen their highlights, as befitting the time of year, and you can catch up with their thoughts and memories across the issue, in Highlights of 2014 Parts One, Two and Three. It is a broad and eclectic list, from festivals to horror films. We also have a letter from our editor, Gary Raymond, who looks back over everything Wales Arts Review has done in 2014, including the Greatest Welsh Novel, a very successful crowdfunder campaign, a passionate Roundtable day and hundreds of thousands of printed words, but also offers some tantalising peeks into what Wales Arts Review hopes to bring in 2015; Steph Power looks at the year in opera and classical music and evaluates the cuts to arts funding; John Lavin casts his eye over a year in the short story, a form that is gaining ever more momentum and talent; Ben Glover evaluates the evolving political landscape of Wales and the UK with his essay, ‘To the Future and Beyond: Welsh Identity, Raymond Williams and the End of 2014′; and Craig Austin looks at the anniversary and legacy of Manic Street Preacher’s iconic album, The Holy Bible, in ‘The Art of Falling Apart’.

In this issue’s longform essay, Graham Tomlinson looks back at the extraordinary story of how Donald Peers, 1940s crooner, ended up with a number 3 hit and a spot on Top of the Pops in 1969.

We have a couple of other top quality interviews this issue. Jenny Allan talks to two of the talents behind the recent winner of the best short film at BAFTA Cymru, Chris Forster and Rob Smith, whose The Portrait told an intimate story of redemption and guilt, starring Joss Ackland and Juliet Stevenson. And, in her Wales Arts Review debut, Francesca Donovan catches up with one of the people behind the Cardiff Contemporary arts festival, Richard Higlett.

It’s our final piece of new fiction of 2014, with Kate Hamer’s ‘The Visit’; but that’s not to say we are all done with short stories until next year. Watch this space for more news over the festive period about this.

In reviews, Valerie Sirr looks over Jo Mazelis’ hefty new novel, Significance; Phil Morris caught the much-acclaimed one man show, Last Christmas, from writer Matt Bulgo and director, Kate Wasserberg before it heads off for a stint at the Soho Theatre in London; Steph Power sees Sinfonia Cymru continue to push the boundaries with their Unease; as well as being at the RWCMD to see the Welsh Camerata’s choir and orchestra tackle an ambitious new oratorio from Andrew Wilson-Dickson, Karuna.

We also have a quick report from Wales Arts Review’s recent fiction event at the Trinity Saint David campus in Lampeter in west Wales, where Cynan Jones, Carly Holmes, Gary Raymond and Dic Edwards all read from their contributions to the Fiction Map of Wales short story anthology. (The anthology is for sale direct from this site here).

And we are very pleased to publish two wonderful new poems for the festive season; ‘The little cakes and the rose in winter’ from Jeni Williams and ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ from Ruth Bidgood.

And finally, in our series of Welsh arts company profiles, we take a look at some of the remarkable achievements of A&B Cymru.

 

Banner illustration by Dean Lewis

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