Languages

Diolch gwirfoddolwyr!

Mae Theatr na nÓg eisiau dweud DIOLCH enfawr i ein gwirfoddolwyr ffantastig sydd wedi helpu allan gydag ein cynhyrchiad Heliwr Pili Pala yn ystod tymor yr Hydref. Roedd Kris, Karen, Abi, Geraldine, Haydn a Jenny yn edrych ar ôl y gweithdai yn Amgueddfa Abertawe ac yn tywys yr ysgolion o gwmpas Marina Abertawe. Roedd pob gwirfoddolwr wedi taflu eu hun mewn i fyd Alfred Russel Wallace ac wedi cadw sylw'r disgyblion trwy’r dydd.

Basen ni 'di methu neud e hebddoch chi! Dyma rhai o’r sylwadau gan athrawon a ddaeth i ddangos pa mor amhrisiadwy mae ein gwirfoddolwyr:
“Roedd y plant wedi mwynhau'r ymweliad i’r amgueddfa, roedden nhw’n hoffi edrych ar yr arteffactau ac yn siarad â’r gwirfoddolwyr ardderchog. Roedd y gwirfoddolwyr wedi neud yr ymweliad yn gwerthfawr”.
“Roedd y gwirfoddolwyr yn rhedeg y gweithgareddau yn gyfeillgar, yn denu sylw ac yn cefnogi'r disgyblion”.

Mae Kris, un o ein gwirfoddolwyr sydd yn astudio Drama Gymhwysol ym Mhrifysgol Cymru y Drindod Dewi Sant, wedi rhannu ei farn ar ei brofiad gyda Theatr na nÓg yr Hydref yma: “Roedd hi’n brofiad hyfryd i gwrdd â rhyngweithio gyda’r plant o ysgolion gwahanol, roedden nhw’n chwilfrydig ac yn llawn egni. Nes i fwynhau'r gwaith yn y ddwy amgueddfa a hoffwn i helpu gydag unrhyw brosiectau arall sydd yn dod lan. Roedd y profiad yn dda ar gyfer fy ngwaith yn y dyfodol, diolch”.

Bydd llawer o gyfleoedd i ein gwirfoddolwyr yn 2020, ac os hoffech chi gymryd rhan plîs cysylltwch Carys ar 01639 641771 neu trwy e-bost ambassadors@theatr-nanog.co.uk. Diolch!

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Thank you ambassadors!

Theatr na nÓg would like to say a big THANK YOU to our fantastic ambassadors who helped out with our production of The Butterfly Hunter this Autumn. Kris, Karen, Abi, Geraldine, Haydn and Jenny all took care of the workshops at Swansea Museum and guided the schools around Swansea Marina. Each ambassador fully immersed themselves into the world of Alfred Russel Wallace and kept the school pupils engaged throughout the day.

We truly could not have done it without them! Here are a few comments from the teachers who came to show just how invaluable our ambassadors are:
“The children enjoyed the visit to the museum, they liked looking at the artefacts and talking to the volunteers who were excellent. The volunteers made the visit worthwhile”.
“Volunteers who were running the activities were very engaging, friendly and supportive of the pupils”.

Kris, one of our ambassadors who is currently studying Applied Drama at University of Wales Trinity Saint David, shared his thoughts on his experience this Autumn with Theatr na nÓg: “It was a wonderful experience getting to meet and interact with the children from different schools, they were all inquisitive and energetic. I enjoyed the work in both museums and would be interested in any upcoming projects I might be able to help on. It was a good experience for my future work, thank you”.

There will be lots of opportunities taking place in 2020 for our ambassadors, and if you would like to get involved then please contact Carys on 01639 641771 or by email at ambassadors@theatr-nanog.co.uk. Diolch!

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Theatre Company exports Welsh Hero

Theatr na nÓg is delighted to announce that the company will present their original play “You Should Ask Wallace” in Indonesia.

The play tells the inspiring story of Alfred Russel Wallace, who was born in Usk and who left Wales in 1854 to document the diverse fauna, flora of the area in Indonesia now known as the Wallacea Region.

The British Council therefore has invited the award-winning Theatr na nÓg to take part in the Festival of Inspiration, Education and the Arts to celebrate the diversity of the Wallacea region. The Festival will be held in Makassar from the 22nd -28th of November 2019.

Paul Smith, Director of The British Council in Indonesia explained how delighted they are about the collaboration, “Here in Indonesia we are thrilled that the Welsh Wallace is returning to the Archipelago. In our Wallace Week in Sulawesi we are not just exploring biodiversity but also the cultural and ethnic diversities that Wallace encountered. Theatr na nÓg’s production will contribute greatly to the understanding and inspiration of young audiences along The Wallacea Line and we are thrilled that the company will transfer the production to local performers to ensure its own ‘sustainability’ here.

Each year Theatr na nÓg create original productions for over 5,000 young people which integrate live theatre performance with innovative creative learning resources. The organisation will be sharing their successful model of presenting theatre and education in workshops and symposiums in Makassar. The company is grateful to Wales Arts International and British Council Cymru for supporting this exciting opportunity.

Theatr na nÓg’s Artistic Director Geinor Styles said :- “It is an incredible opportunity for us to tell the Welsh story of Wallace to an area that celebrates and recognises this often forgotten scientist who co-discovered the theory of evolution with Charles Darwin, and to be here in the place where Wallace wrote the theory is inspirational.”

Styles together with actor Ioan Hefin, who originated the role of Alfred Russel Wallace, will not only perform the original play but will subsequently work with Indonesian actors and director to enable them to formulate their own version of the drama which they can continue to present to local audiences. “Our first performance of ‘You Should ask Wallace’ was in 2008. At the time I thought we were revisiting an important but forgotten historical figure. I now realise that ARW is very much a voice for today and tomorrow. He was, and still is, a visionary influence”

This terrific opportunity tops a great year for this small Neath based company where they started the year with another British Council invitation to present their hit musical “Eye of the Storm” in Hong Kong and which has just completed a UK tour captivating audiences and receiving rave reviews.

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Cwmni fach o Gymru yn allforio arwr cymreig i ben draw byd.

Mae Theatr na nÓg yn falch i gyhoeddi bod y cwmni wedi ei wahodd i Indonesia gan y Cyngor Prydeinig i gydweithio gydag artistiaid o Indonesia ar ddrama wreiddiol y cwmni "You Should Ask Wallace."

Mae stori ysbrydoledig y dyn o Frynbuga, Alfred Russel Wallace a adawodd Cymru yn 1854 i gofnodi ffawna a fflora amrywiol yr ardal yn Indonesia, a adwaenir bellach fel rhanbarth Wallacea. Mae'r Cyngor Prydeinig felly wedi gwahodd Theatr na nÓg i gymryd rhan yn yr Ŵyl Ysbrydoliaeth, Addysg a'r Celfyddydau i ddathlu amrywiaeth rhanbarth Wallacea rhwng 22ain a’r 29ain o Dachwedd.

Dywedodd Cyfarwyddwr Artistig y cwmni, Geinor Styles:- "Mae'n gyfle arbennig i ni adrodd stori Gymreig Wallace i ardal sy'n dathlu ac yn cydnabod y gwyddonydd hwn, a ddarganfyddodd theori esblygiad ar y cyd â Charles Darwin, ac mae bod yma yn y man lle ysgrifennodd Wallace yr union bapur ar y theori yn anhygoel."

Bydd Styles, ynghyd â'r actor Ioan Hefin, a greodd rôl Alfred Russel Wallace, nid yn unig yn perfformio'r ddrama wreiddiol ond yn cyd-weithio gydag actorion a chyfarwyddwr o Indonesia i'w galluogi i lunio eu fersiwn nhw eu hunain o'r ddrama fel y gallant barhau i'w chyflwyno y ddrama o Gymru i gynulleidfaoedd lleol. "Roedd ein perfformiad cyntaf o 'You Should Ask Wallace' yn 2008. Ar y pryd roeddwn yn meddwl ein bod yn ailedrych ar ffigur hanesyddol pwysig ond anghofiedig. Rwy'n sylweddoli erbyn hyn bod Alfred Russel Wallace yn llais pwysig ar gyfer heddiw ac yfory. Yr oedd, ac y mae'n dal i fod, yn ddylanwad gweledigaethol."

Bob blwyddyn mae'r sefydliad yn creu cynyrchiadau gwreiddiol i dros 5,000 o bobl ifanc sy'n plethu perfformiad theatr gydag adnoddau dysgu creadigol digidol. Bydd y y cwmni yn rhannu ei fodel llwyddiannus o gyflwyno theatr ac addysg mewn gweithdai a symposia yn Makassar. Mae'r cwmni'n ddiolchgar i Gelfyddydau Rhyngwladol Cymru a Chyngor Prydeinig Cymru am gefnogi'r cyfle cyffrous hwn.

Mae'r cyfle gwych hwn yn benllanw ar flwyddyn arbennig i'r cwmni bach hwn o Gastell-nedd. Dechreuodd y flwyddyn gyda gwahoddiad arall gan y Cyngor Prydeinig i fynd â sioe gerdd llwyddiannus, sef "Eye of the Storm" i Hong Kong, sydd newydd gwblhau taith o'r DU gan ddenu adolygiadau gwych.

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Cydweithrediad gwyddoniaeth gyfrifiadurol greadigol Abertawe yn ysbrydoli meddyliau ifanc â phrosiect newydd, sy’n dod â dysgu peiriant ynghyd ag un o ddarganfyddiadau gwyddonol pwysicaf Cymru.

Mae’r rhaglen allgymorth arloesol i ysgolion Technocamps wedi ymuno unwaith yn rhagor â’r cwmni aml-wobrwyedig Theatr na nÓg ar gyfer prosiect ar y cyd sy’n dod â pheth o’r sgiliau technoleg fwyaf blaenllaw at blant a phobl ifanc ledled De Cymru.

Mae eu prosiect mwyaf diweddar, sy’n seiliedig ar y ddrama Heliwr Pili Pala, yn dod ag adrodd straeon hudolus am y gwyddonydd o Gymru Alfred Russel Wallace (cyfoeswr â Darwin a ddarganfyddodd theori esblygiad yn annibynnol yn sgil ei anturiaethau i bedwar ban byd) ynghyd â sgiliau i gatalogio natur drwy ddysgu peiriant.

Dyma’r prosiect cyntaf erioed i Technocamps a Theatr na nÓg greu partneriaeth arno yng Nghymru ers eu cydweithio poblogaidd rhyngwladol yng Ngwyl SPARK Hong Kong yn gynharach eleni.

Ers ei sefydlu yn 2003, bu tîm Technochamps yn darparu gweithdai am raglennu, datblygu gemau, robotigs, codio a datblygu apiau i fwy na 45,000 o bobl ifanc yng Nghymru. Mae gweithdy diweddaraf Technochamps sy’n archwilio dysgu peiriant, ymhlith y mwyaf uchelgeisiol hyd yma. Mae dysgu peiriant yn cymhwyso deallusrwydd artiffisial mewn systemau, gan roi’r cyfle iddynt ddysgu a gwella’n awtomatig yn sgil profiad heb raglennu pellach. Diolch i’r cydweithio hwn, cafodd plant ledled De Cymru y cyfle i roi cynnig ar hyn eu hunain, gan greu eu rhaglenni deallus eu hunain a fydd, dros amser, yn dysgu i gatalogio’r gwahanol drychfilod a phryfed maen nhw’n eu darganfod yn rhywogaethau diffiniedig.

Cafodd y gweithdai arloesol hyn eu cynnig i ysgolion cynradd ledled Abertawe fel rhan o becyn i ysgolion i gyd-fynd â chynhyrchiad diweddaraf Theatr na nÓg, Heliwr Pili Pala a bydd ar gael i’r cyhoedd cyn bo hir gydag adnoddau ar wefan Technocamps. Ysgrifennwyd Heliwr Pili Pala, drama wreiddiol ar gyfer Theatr na nÓg yn dathlu bywyd y gwyddonydd o Gymru Alfred Russel Wallace, gan y Cyfarwyddwr Artistig Geinor Styles, sydd wedi ei gwobrwyo â Chymrodoriaeth Anrhydeddus oddi wrth y Coleg Brenhinol Cerdd a Drama am ei gwaith yn dod â theatr o ansawdd uchel i blant yng Nghymru.

Ganwyd Alfred Russel Wallace yn Llanbadog, Sir Fynwy, ac yn ddiweddarach roedd yn byw yng Nghastell-nedd. Darganfyddodd Theori Esblygiad yn annibynnol o Charles Darwin yn yr 1850au - mewn gwirionedd cafodd ei bapur ar y pwnc ei gyhoeddi ar y cyd ac ochr yn ochr â phapur Darwin. Ers ei farwolaeth mae rôl Wallace yn un o’r darganfyddiadau mwyaf erioed wedi diflannu o hanes bron tra bo Darwin yn cael ei gydnabod gan blant ledled y byd. Mae’r Heliwr Pili Pala yn mynd â chynulleidfaoedd ifanc ar antur drwy fywyd Wallace a’i fordeithiau drwy jyngl Brasil a’r Malay Archipelago, gan amlygu pwysigrwydd bioamrywiaeth a sgwrsio ar hyd y daith.

Mae’r cynhyrchiad wedi bod yn rhedeg fel rhan o brosiect theatr ysgolion blynyddol Theatr na nÓg drwy gydol misoedd Medi a Hydref 2019. Ei deitl Saesneg yw The Butterfly Hunter.
Fodd bynnag, bydd dau berfformiad am ddim i’r cyhoedd yn Theatr Dylan Thomas, ynghyd â gweithdai Technocamps, yn digwydd fel rhan o Ŵyl Wyddoniaeth Abertawe ddydd Sadwrn 26 Hydref 2019.

Gweithdy Cyfrwng Saesneg: 2.30pm, Ystafell Vivian, Amgueddfa Genedlaethol y Glannau
Perfformiad Cyfrwng Saesneg: 4.30pm, Theatr Dylan Thomas
Gweithdy Cyfrwng Cymraeg: 10.30am, Ystafell Vivian, Amgueddfa Genedlaethol y Glannau
Perfformiad Cyfrwng Cymraeg: 12pm, Theatr Dylan Thomas

Gellir dod o hyd i ragor o wybodaeth ar wefan Gŵyl Wyddoniaeth Abertawe.

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Swansea’s creative computer science collaboration inspires young minds with a new project bringing together machine learning and one of Wales’ landmark scientific discoveries.

The innovative schools’ outreach programme Technocamps have once again joined forces with award-winning company Theatr na nÓg for a collaborative project bringing some of the most cutting-edge technology skills to children and young people around South Wales.

Based around the play The Butterfly Hunter, their newest project brings together magical storytelling about Welsh scientist Alfred Russel Wallace (a contemporary of Darwin whose globe-trotting adventures led him to independently discover the theory of evolution) and skills to catalogue nature through machine learning.

It Is the first project that Technocamps and Theatr na nÓg have partnered on in Wales since making their popular collaboration international at Hong Kong’s SPARK Festival earlier this year.

Since their establishment in 2003, the Technocamps team has delivered workshops in programming, games development, robotics, coding and app development to more than 45,000 young people in Wales. Their latest workshops exploring machine learning, are some of their most ambitious to date. Machine learning is the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in systems, allowing them to automatically learn and improve from experience without further programming. Thanks to this collaboration, children across South Wales have had the opportunity to try this out for themselves, creating their own intelligent programmes which, over time, learn to catalogue different bugs and insects they find into defined species.

These innovative workshops have been offered to primary schools across Swansea as part of a schools’ package around Theatr na nÓg’s latest production The Butterfly Hunter and will soon be available to the public with resources available on the Technocamps website. An original play from Theatr na nÓg celebrating the life of Welsh scientist Alfred Russel Wallace, The Butterfly Hunter was written by Artistic Director Geinor Styles, who was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama for her work bringing high quality theatre to children in Wales.

Born in Llanbadog, Monmouthshire, and later resident of Neath, Alfred Russel Wallace discovered the Theory of Evolution independently of Charles Darwin in the 1850s – in fact his paper on the subject was jointly published alongside Darwin’s own. Since his death, Wallace’s role in one of the greatest discoveries of all time has almost disappeared from history while Darwin’s is recognised by children across the world. The Butterfly Hunter takes young audiences on an adventure through Wallace’s life and voyages through the Brazilian jungle and Malay Archipelago, highlighting the importance of biodiversity and conservation along the way.

The production has been running as part of the Theatr na nÓg’s annual schools’ theatre project throughout September and October 2019, in English and in Welsh language as Heliwr Pili Pala. However, two free public performances at The Dylan Thomas Theatre, complete with Technocamps workshops, will be taking place as part of the Swansea Science Festival on Saturday 26th October 2019.

English language workshop: 2.30pm, Vivian Room, National Waterfront Museum
English language performance: 4.30pm, Dylan Thomas Theatre
Welsh language workshop: 10.30am, Vivian Room, National Waterfront Museum
Welsh language performance: 12pm, Dylan Thomas Theatre

More information can be found on the Swansea Science Festival website by clicking here.

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Mae Western Power Distribution yn Cyhoeddi Cefnogaeth ar gyfer Sioe Gerdd Ynni Adnewyddadwy Llwyddiannus

Yr wythnos hon agorodd y sioe gerdd arobryn Eye of the Storm gymal Cymru o’i thaith yn y DU mewn digwyddiad arbennig a noddir gan Western Power Distribution yn Theatr Grand Abertawe.

Agorodd y cynhyrchiad i glod mawr yn yr Alban yn gynharach yr hydref hwn, gan gipio adolygiadau 5 seren. Wedi'i greu gan gwmni theatr Cymraeg, Theatr na nÓg, mae'r naratif yn canolbwyntio ar fam a merch sy'n byw mewn tlodi yng nghartref symudol yn Aberdâr. Yn ofalwr i'w mam, mae Emmie yn cael ei thynnu i mewn i'w hawch i astudio ffiseg a thywydd eithafol fel ffordd o ddianc rhag ei sefyllfa, gan ddyfeisio system arloesol o dynnu ynni adnewyddadwy o gorwyntoedd artiffisial ar hyd y ffordd.

Mae WPD, gweithredwr rhwydwaith trydan De Cymru, wedi cytuno i noddi'r adnoddau addysgol i gyd-fynd â'r cynhyrchiad. Wedi'i anelu at gynulleidfaoedd 8 - 12+ oed, mae Eye of the Storm yn cynnig cyfleoedd dysgu o amgylch themâu’r newid yn yr hinsawdd, merched mewn STEM, tywydd eithafol a thrydan, ynghyd â chodi ymwybyddiaeth o faterion cymdeithasol gan gynnwys gofalwyr ifanc ac iechyd meddwl.

Mae Theatr na nÓg a WPD hefyd yn gweithio gyda'i gilydd i helpu i godi ymwybyddiaeth o Gofrestr Gwasanaethau Blaenoriaeth y gweithredwr trydan. Mae'r gwasanaeth rhad ac am ddim hwn yn darparu cefnogaeth ychwanegol i gwsmeriaid ynni a allai fod yn agored i niwed mewn sefyllfa toriad trydan a chael trafferth i ymdopi. Gall hyn gynnwys pobl mewn sefyllfaoedd teuluol cymhleth fel Emmie, neu unigolion sy’n ddibynnol ar drydan yn feddygol, sy’n hŷn neu’n anabl, neu sydd ag anghenion cyfathrebu fel nam ar eu golwg neu eu clyw. Gall eraill sy'n agored i niwed dros dro, fel ymadawyr ysbyty neu famau â babanod newydd-anedig hefyd ymuno â'r gofrestr.

Mae'n gyflym ac yn hawdd cofrestru ar gyfer cefnogaeth ychwanegol gan y gwasanaeth PSR cyfrinachol trwy ymweld â https://www.westernpower.co.uk/customers-and-community/priority-services neu ffonio 0800 096 3080. Os ydych chi'n fyddar neu yn drwm eich clyw, gallwch siarad â thîm WPD ar y rhif uchod gan ddefnyddio Text Relay trwy ddeialu 18001 yn gyntaf gan ddefnyddio'ch ffôn testun.

Dywedodd Karen Welch, Swyddog Cyfathrebu Corfforaethol WPD: “Rydym yn falch iawn o allu cefnogi’r cynhyrchiad hwn, sy’n tynnu sylw at rai negeseuon pwysig iawn ar gyfer ein hoes ni.”

Yn dilyn wythnos o berfformiadau yng Nghaeredin ac yna Abertawe, bydd Eye of the Storm ar daith i Portsmouth, Birmingham, Casnewydd, Bangor ac Aberystwyth. Mae tocynnau ar werth nawr, ewch i eyeofthestormmusical.co.uk.

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Western Power Distribution Announce Support for Eye of the Storm

This week the award-winning musical Eye of the Storm opened the Welsh leg of its UK tour at a special event sponsored by Western Power Distribution at Swansea Grand Theatre.

The production opened to great acclaim in Scotland earlier this autumn, scooping 5 star reviews. Created by Welsh theatre company Theatr na nÓg, the narrative focuses on a mother and daughter living on the breadline from a mobile home in Aberdare. A carer for her mother, Emmie finds herself drawn into her passion for physics and extreme weather as a tool to escape her situation, inventing a breakthrough system for extracting renewable energy from artificial tornadoes along the way.

WPD, the electricity network operator for South Wales, has agreed to sponsor the educational resources to accompany the production. Aimed at audiences aged 8 – 12+, Eye of the Storm offers learning opportunities around the themes of climate change, girls in STEM, extreme weather and electricity, as well as raising awareness of social issues including young carers and mental health.

Theatr na nÓg and WPD are also working together to help raise awareness of the electricity operator’s Priority Services Register. This free service provides extra support to energy customers who may be vulnerable in a power cut situation and find it difficult to cope. This may include people in complex family situations like Emmie’s, or those who are medically dependent on electricity, are elderly or disabled, or have communication needs such as visual or hearing impairments. Others who are temporarily vulnerable, such as hospital leavers or mothers with newborn babies can also join the register.

It is quick and easy to sign up for extra support from the confidential PSR service by visiting https://www.westernpower.co.uk/customers-and-community/priority-services or calling 0800 096 3080. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can speak to the WPD team on the number above using Text Relay by dialling 18001 first using your textphone.

Karen Welch, WPD Corporate Communications Officer, said: “We are delighted to be able to support this production, which highlights some very important messages for our times.”

Following a week of performances in Edinburgh and then Swansea, Eye of the Storm will be touring to Portsmouth, Birmingham, Newport, Bangor and Aberystwyth. Tickets are on sale now, visit eyeofthestormmusical.co.uk.

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Science, Stage and the Next Generation

In conversation with Louis Michaud and Geinor Styles about Eye of the Storm.

When theatre director Geinor Styles was developing her latest musical play for south Wales theatre company, Theatr na nÓg, she stumbled upon a problem. Her main character in Eye of the Storm – touring UK theatres this autumn – is a 14-year-old called Emmie who dreams of chasing tornadoes in the USA. Styles wanted Emmie to invent something that harnesses the energy from a tornado, an invention which helps her realise her ambition in the story. “It needed to be something so fantastical that it didn’t exist yet, but it also had to be something factually possible too,” she recalls. “As soon as I researched this, Louis Michaud’s name came up again and again.”

Canadian engineer Louis Michaud has been working on artificially creating tornadoes and then utilising their power for over 40 years. It’s a line of enquiry he hopes will eventually lead to drastically reducing carbon emissions in the production of electricity. “A large hurricane produces more energy than all the electricity we produce in a year,” Michaud says, “so if we can produce a number of small tornadoes, then effectively we could produce our electricity without any greenhouse gas… We can produce clean energy.”

Louis Michaud is the epitome of the obsessive inventor with a gentle, almost professorial air. He has toiled over his idea for decades in his spare time while working as an engineer at his local oil company, only committing to it full-time when he retired.

Eventually, in 2012, Michaud received a grant of $300,000 to build a large-scale prototype of what he calls his Atmospheric Vortex Engine (AVE) in his hometown of Sarnia, Ontario. “We don’t like to use the word tornado because it scares people!” he smiles. The AVE is a chimney tower in which a tornado, or vortex, is artificially generated using heat at ground level and then turbines that push the air upwards. “To produce a vortex, you need two things: you need warm air that has the potential to be buoyant as it rises, and you also need rotation.”

“I read about Louis and his invention online,” Geinor Styles remembers, “and my first thought was to contact him to tell him what we were doing. I didn’t want him to think we were stealing his idea! I found his e-mail address, never expecting a response – but then he got back to me really quickly and we got talking about it. He was really onboard.”

What was Michaud’s reaction when a Welsh theatre contacted him to discuss using his project within their musical? “I thought it was wonderful,” he smiles. “Geinor had picked up on the idea of the vortex engine, and really understood what I was trying to achieve, and so I was delighted to co-operate on it. It was a real pleasure.”

Michaud’s Atmospheric Vortex Engine would become an integral part of Styles’s play, with the engineer acting as consultant and eventually flying from Canada to see the premiere.

Eye of the Storm originally opened in 2017 (it will tour again this autumn across the UK). It’s an uplifting musical with songs by Grammy-winning songwriter Amy Wadge, but it delivers some powerful messages. The story’s hero, Emmie, is a young carer looking after her mother in a caravan park in Aberdare in south Wales. She is striving to realise her lofty ambitions while struggling to take care of things at home.

When Louis Michaud saw the play, though, he immediately made an observation that resonated with Styles, inspiring her to rewrite parts of the script. “Originally, all we wanted was for Emmie to be a girl with big aspirations, who invents something to do with extreme weather systems,” says Styles. “It was only when Louis Michaud told us that what we’ve done is create a climate change musical, that we realised how important that aspect was. Since 2017, those issues have become a huge priority for us all, and so we’ve tweaked a lot of the things about that. Emmie realises that what she does could change the world.”

Michaud remembers that first night. “It was very enjoyable. I liked the story and the theme of the teenage carer, but it was also about how young people can really change things. And I loved how the play is encouraging girls to pursue their studies in science.”

Geinor Styles agrees: “That’s always been a big driver of this play, from discussions with teachers saying they’ve got a real problem of girls dropping out of the STEM subjects in school.” The lead character in Eye of the Storm eschews the depressing statistics of females being under-represented in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects in our schools, a trend that is unsurprisingly reflected beyond education (women made up just 14.4% of the STEM workforce in 2018). “We had a young carer in last week and she wants to study medicine. I asked why she did, and she said it’s because it’s factual, it’s right, it’s truth. I think that’s really interesting, especially from a theatre point of view, as we try to present truth on stage – but the fact that we’ve got these girls who can see what truth really is, is brilliant.”

Perhaps perceptions are finally changing, with the world’s most celebrated climate activist currently being a teenage girl. “I just read the last script of the play (for the touring version) and Geinor makes a reference to Greta Thunberg which I think is brilliant,” says Michaud. “And one of the things that Greta says is that although it’s the young people who need this and need to act, they still have to get the older people with the experience and the knowhow to help… And so, I hope I can do my bit to support that.”

The ethos behind Eye of the Storm led to Theatr na nÓg finding itself at the vanguard of art and science. OISTAT is a global network of specialist theatre makers who are interested in the unlimited possibilities of technology in design, and they invited the company to showcase its on-stage tornado – inspired by Michaud’s Atmospheric Vortex Engine – as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations. A demonstration was given to stage design students at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama who then explored ways of replicating Michaud’s tornado in front of an audience.

Theatr na nÓg was then invited this year to present the play in Hong Kong as part of the British Council’s SPARK: The Science of Art and Creativity festival. It was heralded by organisers as epitomising how art and science can co-exist to project important messages to audiences. The team was joined in Hong Kong by Technocamps, an organisation that delivers workshops in programming, coding and app and games development to young people across Wales, further cementing the relationship between art and science and technology.

The company’s commitment to encouraging young people to engage with STEM subjects continues closer to home. The team recently collaborated with primary school children from in and around Swansea to create an original new app. Their extraordinary creation is now available through the App Store and Google Play and provides interactive activities, classroom challenges and behind the scenes content to inspire school projects linked to topics such as climate change, inspired of course by Emmie’s story in Eye of the Storm.

Geinor Styles recognises the responsibility the company has: “To get more young people to be inquisitive and curious about the world but, importantly, for the older generation to support them, is so important. We want young people – and yes, especially girls – to see science as being as worthy as any other subject matter and as being a real career choice. It’s so important we support these young people in these choices they might want to make. If we could stimulate a young girl into thinking she can actually save the planet and truly change something, then that would be job done for me!”

With Eye of the Storm set to tour Wales, England and Scotland during the next two months, it’s hoped that the show’s messages can be carried far and wide. “The play is for enjoyment and is wonderful entertainment,” says Michaud, “but we also hope it presents a scientific solution with the Atmospheric Vortex Engine that needs to be considered. We hope people who see the play might begin to think about it as a possible solution.”

Albert Einstein once said that all arts and sciences are branches of the same tree, ideas in both disciplines born out of creativity. Theatr na nÓg is attempting to show how one of these branches might benefit the other, something Louis Michaud recognises: “Getting the theatre to present an idea is very important. People are somewhat afraid of science, so to tell a story about it is great in getting the message across. Theatre helps people with the relevant knowledge to be listened to.”

Eye of the Storm is on tour throughout September and October 2019, visiting Edinburgh Kings Theatre, Swansea Grand Theatre, Portsmouth’s New Theatre Royal, Birmingham Hippodrome, Newport Riverfront, Pontio in Bangor and Aberystwyth Arts Centre. To find out more visit eyeofthestormmusical.co.uk.

By Nicholas Davies

Nicholas Davies contributes regularly to The Stage and is a freelance writer of screenplays, novels and articles. He is based in Cardiff and previously spent 17 years working for the Arts Council of Wales covering the performing arts.

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Cast Announcement - Theatr na nÓg’s latest sellout production champions the importance of bio-diversity and conservation with the story of Alfred Russel Wallace.

This autumn Theatr na nÓg will once again be teaming up with some of Swansea’s best cultural institutions – including Swansea Museum, The National Waterfront Museum and the Dylan Thomas Theatre - as over 3000 children visit for a day of theatre and workshops promising to bring history to life.

This year the company present The Butterfly Hunter and Heliwr Pili Pala – Welsh and English versions of a play celebrating the life of one of the science’s unsung heroes – the 19th Century natural historian Alfred Russel Wallace. Born in Llanbadog, Monmouthshire, and later resident of Neath, Wallace discovered the Theory of Evolution independently of Charles Darwin in the 1850s – in fact his paper on the subject was jointly published alongside Darwin’s own. This wonderful tale of persistence and resilience will inspire young minds as the play takes them on an amazing journey from Usk to Neath to the Amazon and finally to The Malay Archipelago.

An original play from Theatr na nÓg, The Butterfly Hunter is written by Artistic Director Geinor Styles, who was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama for her work creating high quality theatre for children in Wales.
The company is delighted to welcome Richard Nicholls and Kate Ellis to perform the story with James Ifan portraying the Victorian scientist.

James Ifan has recently played the role of The Mad Hatter in The Sherman Theatre’s winter production Alice in Wonderland alongside a plethora of stage work for the likes of Theatr Clwyd and Lighthouse Theatre, as well as an appearance in the final of Britain’s Got Talent.

Actor Kate Elis is well known for her work with theatre companies such as Taking Flight, Butterfly Theatre and Dirty Protest, and her international work with Motherlode Theatre’s The Good Earth. Kate also plays various roles in the sketch show Cacamwnci for S4C.

James and Kate will be joined on stage by Royal Welsh College alumnus Richard Nichols whose previous work with Theatr na nÓg includes A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Cider With Rosie, and The Ghost of Morfa Colliery. He has appeared in numerous plays for Mappa Mundi for whom he also directed and is a founding member. Richard has appeared in family favourites like Danny The Champion of the World (Birmingham Stage) and Dr Who. He recently played the part of McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest for The Torch Theatre in Milford Haven.

The production is supported by a wealth of creative talent, with music originally composed by Barnaby Southgate, and the set and costume by Linbury Prize Stage Design nominee Frances Norburn. With lighting design by Hristo Takov and a rich representation of the natural world through animation and projection, this ambitious production aims to illustrate the huge impact we are having on our environment and how best we can preserve it for future generations. As an added bonus as the cast take the audience on their very own expedition offering children to explore the flora and fauna of the local area.
The production will be running as part of the schools theatre project throughout September and October 2019, in English and in Welsh language as Heliwr Pili Pala.

Bookings are now at capacity for The Butterfly Hunter, however school bookings are still available for Theatr na nÓg’s sister project – on the Swansea leg of the UK tour of their award-winning play Eye of the Storm. Visit eyeofthestormmusical.co.uk for further details.

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