malú ansaldo English Festival of Voice

English by Malú Ansaldo | Festival of Voice

Here, we speak to Malú Ansaldo ahead of her production for National Theatre Wales, English. Female-led new commissions are at the heart of this year’s Festival of Voice programme. Created by Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff’s biennial international arts festival is back for its second edition, igniting the city with powerful voices from 7 – 17 June. In this series, we meet the voices behind this year’s new creations. 

Tell us about your new show

Our new show is called English; it is an amazing exploration on language and identity, how we learn, how we engage with others and ultimately how we communicate. Language can enable a lot of things but also can be a barrier, and the way in which we use it and learn it is changing so fast nowadays. For this show our Co-Producers from Quarantine engaged with a lot of different people: from refugees learning English and Welsh; to ESOL teachers; academics and linguists who are investigating how languages evolve. It is a fun mash-up that hopefully helps us break down the complicated construction of how an identity is built and how we can then say who we are.

Tell us what inspired you to make this new work

The world is changing so fast, people move around for many reasons: from work, because of war, from love to education, there are so many different issues that might make us want to relocate, or learn a new language. Also, more and more children now grow up in multilingual households; I am an example of it myself. This means our identity also has these multiple layers: the notion of one country one language is challenged own a daily basis and we wanted to explore this, understand the mechanisms, and help people hopefully also engage in this conversation. This show will be going on a wide tour across the world in 2019 and we wanted to share something that we think is important everywhere, and that would be a mirror of what is happening on a global scale. Hopefully we find audiences that want to engage with this everywhere we go.

Tell us about your team

For this show we are working with the wonderful Quarantine team from Manchester: Richard Gregory, Renny O’Shea, Simon Banham and their creative associates Sonia Hughes; Jo Fong; Mike Brookes and Simon Clode.  We also have an Emerging Director, Chelsea Gillard working on it and our Production Managers, Greg Akehurst and Jane Lalljee and Stage Manager Perla Ponce. The performer is Cardiff’s Jonny Cotsen. Between them they speak English, Spanish, Cantonese, BLS, French and a bit of German I believe! It is so exciting to have so many people in the room working to develop this piece. Everyone’s experience is relevant.

Tell us about yourself

I’ve been in Wales for almost 6 months now having come from Argentina via London! I am loving it here, such a vibrant engaged artistic community! I’m doing a Maternity Cover at NTW as Executive Producer until October. Previously I worked for Cirque du Soleil and for Shakespeare’s Globe, focusing always on international projects and touring around the world. I’ve been working in theatre and the performing arts most of my life, having started as a performer myself back in Buenos Aires, many years ago. I’ve got a personal interest in this project that relates to migration and mobility due to my personal experience of it, and the chance to explore this and take it around the world is a dream come true.

What does Festival of Voice mean to you?

I love a Festival! But I am particularly excited about Festival of the Voice; I love a lot of the artists in the lineup already but I am excited about discovering new ones. I love the fact that it reflects on the Voice in so many different ways and tackles something that sometimes can be seen as challenging in a very positive way. Wales being a bilingual country and having more and more people coming here from all around the world, it is only fair that we celebrate this multiplicity with a world class festival.

What are you looking forward to from the rest of the Festival of Voice programme?

I am a fan of Camille O’Sullivan and I love Nick Cave so that will be a perfect evening for me. Also, seeing Patti Smith in an intimate setting feels like a massive privilege. There are many artists I have heard of but not seen live yet, so it is a little feast to have, just on my doorstep.


Tickets for and further details of NTW’s by Malú Ansaldo English can be found here.

Recommended for you: Gray Taylor casts a critical eye on Angélique Kidjo’s Festival of Voice performance of Remain In Light (originally by Talking Heads).

For more Wales Arts Review coverage of National Theatre Wales, including news, reviews, and interviews, click here.