The current pandemic and resulting lockdown have had a dramatic impact on the performing arts in Wales. Spotlight… seeks to highlight the companies, organisations and creatives working and producing throughout the pandemic and explore the ways Welsh creatives have sought to retain a platform and continue to project their voices and reach their audiences. On this edition, Run Amok.
Who are Run Amok?
Originally formed in Aberystwyth by Izzy Rabey and Jonathan Patton, Run Amok is a Cardiff based not-for-profit Community Interest Company “with a commitment to Welsh theatre and communities from Cardiff and the surrounding area”.
Since their inception in 2013, Run Amok have toured venues in Cardiff and London with productions of original plays and modern re-imaginings of classic texts. A bilingual company with a manifesto, Run Amok’s work incorporates aspects of Welsh heritage and culture, with each production being accompanied by workshops which engage with the local community and encourage a response and interaction with the texts.
What has been Run Amok’s Lockdown Life?
Set to tour Microwave, a bold exploration of young female sexuality by playwright Elinor Cook (Killing Eve, season 3), the week lockdown was announced, Run Amok have felt the impact of forced theatre closures and have taken their manifesto and voices online.
In the months since lockdown, Run Amok have made constant use of their social media platforms. With a combined following of over 1,500 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Run Amok have utilised their online presence to campaign with the Black Lives Matter movement and highlight the work of others within the arts community.
Working online has also extended to rehearsals and productions as Artistic Director Izzy Rabey has taken to directing, over Zoom, a Network Play Reading of Ross Willis’ Wolfie, a story following the diverging lives of twins separated at birth. Wolfie was live streamed on 11th July and is now available on demand.
What of the New Normal?
Speaking to Izzy Rabey, one of her primary post-lockdown goals is to see Microwave performed live. The piece is an interactive visual and auditory experience, with music by Rabey’s regular collaborator Edith Crawford, whose musical accompaniment can be found on Spotify. Staging Microwave as a live production would be a light at the end of the current pandemic tunnel and an exciting post-lockdown goal.
Rabey, in collaboration with a number of other theatre companies across Wales and others within the Welsh arts has also established ‘The Solidarity Project’. The project seeks to provide a space in which to discuss “how to dismantle systemic racism in the arts through direct engagement in conversations with organisations and creatives”. ‘The Solidarity Project’ has also set up a fund through PayPal to directly support Black and POC creatives and activists throughout the pandemic, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement.
Determined to decolonise theatre and actively impact the Welsh theatre community, Rabey, alongside creatives across Wales including Mymuna Soleman, Nuura Adam, Phillip J Morris, Holly Adomah Thompson, Steven Kavuma, Connor Allen, Eadyth Crawford, Mali Ann Rees and Alexandria Riley, has been regularly meeting with companies and venues across Wales to draw up a policy and set of actions. Many across Wales have expressed their dedication to eradicating racism and Rabey and her colleagues have provided them with the opportunity to turn this ambition into active, anti-racist work. Buildings and companies which are already involved are Theatr Clwyd, Wales Millenium Centre, Theatr Na Nog, Theatr Genedlaethol, Fran Wen, Chapter Arts Centre and Sherman Theatre and many more are sure to join soon.
As Izzy Rabey states, the Welsh arts are small but mighty and will weather the storm of the pandemic. Run Amok are still working and campaigning whilst venues are closed to the public and are ready to stage Microwave as soon as is (safely) possible.
For more information and ways to get involved with the work mentioned above, be sure to follow @Runamok on Twitter and Instagram, as well as organisations such as WAARU (Wales Arts Anti-Racist Union), Privilege Cafe, Where I’m Coming From, Jukebox Collective and Ladies of Rage, TransPrideCymru, Cardiff and Valleys Trans and Non Binary Mutual Aid.
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The current pandemic and resulting lockdown have had a dramatic impact on the performing arts. Spotlight… seeks to highlight the companies, organisations and creatives working and producing throughout the pandemic and explore the ways Welsh creatives have sought to retain a platform and continue to project their voices and reach their audiences. This week, we turn to Theatr Iolo.
Georgia Winstone is a regular contributor to Wales Arts Review.