Don’t be scared It’s just me… Dan Lloyd.
I’m the Assistant Director on the spectacularly spooky story ‘The Ghost of Morfa Colliery’ which is currently playing a sold out run to schools audiences in the Dylan Thomas Theatre on the Swansea waterfront.
It’s the story of the Morfa Colliery mining disaster which tragically claimed the lives of 87 people at the end of the 19th Century.
At the time some spooked-out survivors say they saw the ghosts of dead miners walking the tunnels of the mine… that strange things were seen and heard in the run up to the explosion… and that the ghosts and apparitions served as a warning for terrible things to come…
A little bit about my background with Theatr na nÓg…
I am a Welsh actor musician with 13 years experience working in the industry.
In that time I have worked in theatre, film, TV, radio and on the West End stage in a variety of shows from straight plays to actor-muso musicals and most stuff in between.
At the end of my training at East 15 acting school I was handed a casting breakdown for an actor musician show called ‘The Princess & The Hunter’ which was to tour theatres in the UK in 2004 for the Neath based company Theatr na nÓg.
I applied for the job and was invited to audition for Artistic Director Geinor Styles shortly afterwards.
Little did I know that this audition was to change the course of my career forever!
I have been fortunate to work on several shows as an actor for Theatr na nÓg and have always enjoyed the open and collaborative feel of their rehearsal room. I quickly learned of their integrity, drive and commitment to create work of the highest possible quality for audiences young and old alike - as well as being one of the most fun environments to work in! So much so I plucked up the courage at the end of the Tom Musical tour earlier this year to ask Geinor if I could assist her.
She said yes.
Now I always wanted to dip my toe into the world of directing and I’m so grateful that Geinor at Theatr na nÓg have given me the opportunity to see what she does and how she does it and to explore my own ideas when it comes to creating a show.
Geinor and I have always got on and straight away I felt I could voice my opinions and ideas (good and bad and really, really bad) during this process.
We laughed a lot along the way too.
I’m told the average adult laughs 17 times a day… We have 18 before lunch!
However creating a show like this takes a lot of hard work, dedication and focus. It has been fascinating to see all the pieces of the puzzle come together to create a truly wonderful imaginative experience.
The process has been a real learning curve for me. From giving notes to actors (eek!) to attending production meetings. From visiting set builds to plotting lights. It’s an access all areas pass for me to learn and absorb as much as I can about the process of putting on a show. I’ve relished every moment of it.
We use illusion, misdirection, sleight of hand, spooky sounds, light and the mystical magic of theatre to tell the tragic story of the real Welsh people who lived and worked at that time. This is a really technical show and I’ve loved exploring how we would create the magic moments… from the execution of the illusions themselves to the canny lighting and the musical choices that support every theatrical moment.
The actors are superb and the stage management are amazing. Both are totally dedicated to creating the world of our play and telling the story. A real collaborative experience where everyone is committed to creating a brilliant show for our audience.
Our composer Jac, our lighting designer Elanor and our designer Kitty have all pulled together and created a vivid and atmospheric world for our story to inhabit. Exploring all the choices with them has been very satisfying and all have been very generous with me as I try and learn as much as I can along the way.
As I write this I can hear the shrieks, screams and nervous laughs of our 3rd audience ringing over the backstage tannoy.
It all works a treat and their joyful response is what it is all about.
I have soaked it all up and feel really inspired to explore my further potential as an actor and who knows?… maybe one day a director too.
Long live Theatr na nÓg!