Things are happening this month at ‘The Other Room’ Cardiff’s pub theatre at Porter’s. Already building a reputation for staging new, innovative work, they are truly embracing that remit with ‘Your Room at the Other Room’. The idea is really simple: invite new artists to Cardiff to write, create, perform.
The first part of the festival Blue Sky Scratch gives companies (some newly formed, some with a few productions under their belt) a chance to experiment with and perform new work. They have a one night slot in which to perform. So far, so nice; it’s always great to give space to new companies and new work. The twist here is, following the performance (and grabbing a drink), the audience is invited back in to share thoughts with the company. In many ways this feels like a risk for both company and venue – nobody wants to invite outright criticism of the work, but in Cardiff’s vibrant theatre community, and the creative atmosphere Porter’s is hoping to foster with this festival, this sounds like it could be a brilliant creative and learning opportunity for those involved.
Alongside the Blue Sky Scratch series, is Blue Sky Secret. As the name might suggests most off this is hush-hush, what kind of performance, who is performing, what it’s about: all will be revealed on the night. A test for the audience as much as the performers – a real leaving of expectations at the door.
And as if their own festival supporting new work in Cardiff wasn’t enough, The Other Room has teamed up with a wider Cardiff residency entitled Season Scandinavia, and will present a scratch performance of Danish playwright Christian Lollike’s Cosmic Fear or The Day Brad Pitt Got Paranoia. Empty Deck make work with an international focus and will take over The Other Room for one week in order to research and develop the production. A great example of collaboration in the Cardiff theatre scene, and something other venues and organisations should certainly be looking to for inspiration for the future of Cardiff theatre. Which leads nicely to the next component of this busy festival… Blue Sky Manifesto.
Audiences are invited to become involved in this festival, not only in giving feedback to the performers in the feedback sessions (or at the bar later… though maybe buy them a drink first!) but also in a specifically designed forum event: Blue Sky Manifesto. This event on the 14th of October invites the audience to come and discuss the issues weighing on the arts today, everything from funding cuts to the kinds of theatre companies who are succeeding and the kinds of theatre companies we need.
As it’s an ever-evolving season it’s worth a look at the team on Twitter @TORtheatre and Facebook for regular updates on the work. Meanwhile I’ll be covering the season for Wales Arts Review, and sitting in on some of the Artists Festival workshops to get a real sense of the workings of the process. So check back here for reflections on the productions and insights into the creative process.
A quick reference guide to which parts of the festival you can catch when is listed below. Blue Sky Scratch runs across the month from 5th-23rd October with performances on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The Blue Sky Secret performances will be on 7 and 28 October at 7.30pm while Blue Sky Manifesto will take place on Wednesday 14 and the season will close with Blue Sky Artists Festival on 5 – 7 November. As
Blue Sky Scratch
5/10 – CATRIONA JAMES presents… ‘Worse Things Happen’
8/10 – DIATOMICO present… ‘Bucket of Flies’
9/10 – NEONTOPIA present… ‘NEONSPARX!’
12/10 – CRITICAL AMBITION present… ‘A Double Bill of New Writing’
13/10 – GERAINT JAMES presents… ‘A Crowd’
14/10 – THE OTHER ROOM presents… Blue Sky Manifesto
15/10 – PAUL JENKINS presents… ‘Theatr14’
16/10 – NEIL BEBBER presents… ‘Rabbit’
19/10 – ITCH present… ‘The F Word’
20/10 – HIDDEN WINDOW present… ‘Alice’
21/10 – HIJINX present… ‘Meet Fred’
22/10 – SCRIPTOGRAPHY present… ‘Crash Test’
28/10 Blue Sky Secret
5/11 – 7/11 Blue Sky Artists Festival
Full details of all the performances can be found here: http://www.otherroomtheatre.com/en/blog/announcing-the-your-room-programme
(This article was amended on 8/10/2015 to reflect a change to programming.)