Chwedlau’r Normal Newydd / Tales from the New Normal: Finding Me in a Sea of Change
Verbatim theatre is made from real people’s stories. Playwright Ceri Ashe has been working with people of all ages and backgrounds from across West Wales to gather stories about the highs, the lows, and truths of what life in this new normal means to them.
This tapestry of true stories from young students, hardworking mothers, pensioners and grandparents to list a few, will be brought to life this winter via our ground-breaking, livestreamed Theatr Soffa project. From first hugs and first loves to buzzcuts and dancing like no one’s watching, this poignant, raw, and heartfelt verbatim show will take you on an emotional journey, and encourage you to reflect on what this new normal means to you.
Theatr Soffa is an online community theatre company presenting live-streamed community performances through zoom in both English and Welsh. It was initially conceived as a creative way to connect rurally isolated and housebound individuals across Pembrokeshire through the arts and technology. To date, we have presented several additional livestreamed productions, including Under Milk Wood, Dan Y Wenallt, Dracula, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Nadolig Plentyn yng Nghymru, and Lady Windermere’s Fan.
During the Autumn, Pembrokeshire-born actor, playwright, and founder of Popty Ping Productions theatre company, Ceri Ashe led a series of online sharing sessions with people from all walks of life across West Wales. These stories were allowed the space to breathe during the sharing sessions, and now form the basis of Tales from the New Normal. Ceri said: “For me, theatre and storytelling helps me process emotion, my mental health condition, and make sense of the world … I hope to bring some joy, hope and a few belly laughs to viewers as we all navigate this bizarre new normal together.” Ceri specialises in verbatim theatre and telling stories from personal experience. In February 2020, we programmed her critically acclaimed, Off West End award-winning debut show, ‘Bipolar Me’ at Theatr Gwaun, Fishguard, following a sell-out run at the ‘Etcetera Theatre’, London in 2019. During lockdown, we commissioned Ceri to create Lockdown Tales: Making Bread & Babies and Bara a Babanod, described by London Theatre 1 as ‘well-acted and very, very convincing’.
“I felt shut away but the project has given me a whole new lease of life” – Theatr Soffa participant
This brave and experimental community production has been the perfect project for participants, the majority of whom live alone, are older, or are immunocompromised. Writer, producer, sound designer, and director of Tales from the New Normal Anna Sherratt said: “the casts really support each other throughout and it’s lovely to witness them finding joy and purpose in making something together.” Anna began collaborating with us at the beginning of the Theatr Soffa project, and is passionate about projects that depict lived experiences made for and by the people they represent. Her theatre company, Cwmni Ennyn, recently performed its award-winning show, Roll for Remission / Rholiwch am Wellhad at the National Eisteddfod, following the lives of four young people with cancer as they embark on a board game fantasy quest.
The performance will be livestreamed at 7.30pm GMT Thursday 15th December via our YouTube channel. Tickets are free but please note that booking is essential.
Delivered by professional and community actors, with original music by Eliot Baron. Artwork by Deborah Withey. Duration: 90 minutes.
This project is kindly supported by Comic Relief.