Petula | NTW, TGC and August012

Theatre companies National Theatre Wales, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru and August012 are joining forces to co-produce the multilingual space odyssey, Petula.

Wales’ two national theatre companies, National Theatre Wales and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, are teaming up with Cardiff-based theatre company August012 to tour Wales in spring 2022 with a brand-new production of Fabrice Melquiot’s extraordinary play, Petula. This multilingual adaptation is the brainchild of Director Mathilde Lopez, and features a script translated by celebrated Welsh writer, Daf James, that mixes Welsh, English and even a little French.

A dark and surreal comedy adventure, the story follows teenager Pwdin Evans who is pushed to breaking point by his ridiculous parents, step-parents and the weight of his teenage worries. He escapes by launching himself into space in search of answers and his missing cousin, Petula. The production will touch on the struggles of blended families, bilingual households, body image and relationships — topics that many young people and adults in Wales will no doubt identify with. 

Lopez is the Artistic Director of August012 and has a long history with National Theatre Wales where she was recently appointed Associate Director. In 2013, she directed Rachel Trezise’s Tonypandemonium for NTW and she will be reuniting with theatre designer Jean Chan on this new production of Petula.

‘I am thrilled to delve into the incredible world of Melquiot with such a brilliant team of actors and theatre makers and wrestle with the magic and horror of teenage years,’ said Lopez. ‘What a joy to be allowed to explore these fragile times in all their beauty, absurdity and complexity with the full trust and support of National Theatre Wales and Theatr Genedlaethol.’

Dewi Wykes will play the role of Pwdin while soul-folk jazz singer Kizzy Crawford will play Petula alongside Tom Mumford, Sion Pritchard, Clêr Stephens and Rachel Summers as the parents and step-parents.

Petula will mark the second co-production between National Theatre Wales and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru following 2015s {150}, a multi-platform experience exploring the lives of Welsh settlers in Patagonia. Artistic Director of Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, Arwel Gruffydd, said: ‘It’s a great pleasure to once more co-produce with National Theatre Wales, but this time also to collaborate with August 012, who bring their own unique vision to a very different theatre experience! It’s also great to be collaborating again with playwright Daf James, who brings his playful brand of theatre to this colourful and surprising project. We’re also glad of the opportunity to present a production where both the English and Welsh language share the stage in a way that reflects the real life experience of people in Wales today, and of young people in particular — although the play often takes us to a world far removed from our earthly reality.’

Both national companies and August012 are putting young people at the heart of the production by recruiting a panel of young advisors to feed into the creative process. ‘Building new audiences for theatre in Wales and making it relevant to more people, especially young people, is essential,’ said Lorne Campbell, Artistic Director of NTW. ‘Engaging, consulting and empowering young people as part of the theatre-making process not only enriches our work, it also generates new creative pathways to support their wellbeing, and maybe even inspire the next generation of theatre makers.’ As well as building these new teams to advise on the show and marketing, tickets for under 25s will be £10 across the whole tour.

Petula is for young people 12+ and adults, and will open at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, in mid-March 2022 before touring to Aberystwyth, Bangor, Llanelli, Milford Haven, Newport and finishing at Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon on the 8th of April. This is the first project that will see all partners adopting the principles of the Theatre Green Book, an initiative by the theatre industry to work more sustainably and set standards for making sustainable choices in every part of the creative process.


Find out more about Petula on the National Theatre Wales website.

Header image: Petula (Credit: Matthew Wright)