Sherman Theatre’s Spring 2019 season is the final season Rachel O’Riordan has programmed as Artistic Director prior to her move to London’s Lyric Hammersmith. The season includes three world premieres which together explore issues important to society today. In common with all of the seasons Rachel has programmed for Sherman Theatre, work from established and emerging Welsh and Wales-based actors, creatives and writers is a crucial element of the Spring 2019 season.
Rachel O’Riordan has said “I am so very proud of this, my last season as Artistic Director of Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre. I am proud because it represents much of the ambition I felt for us when I started here in 2014. At the heart of the season is new Welsh work, and a bold look at the world we live in, focusing on sex, power and gender.
The first Sherman production of the season is Woof (31 Jan – 9 Feb) by Elgan Rhys and directed by Gethin Evans, two artists who have been nurtured and developed by the Sherman over the past five years. This play explores the dark, secret side of gay culture and is asking us to look beyond stereotype to the core of human behaviour. Set in contemporary Cardiff, Woof is a Welsh language play.
Our co-production with Glasgow’s Tron Theatre Company of a new play by Jo Clifford is next. I asked Jo, whose work as a Trans playwright has been game changing in Scotland, to respond to Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (28 Feb – 16 Mar). I asked her because I felt her particular intellect, skill and life experience would make for a unique reimagining of this contentious play. I am delighted to say that Jo’s Shrew is challenging, hilarious and overturns all our conceptions of gendered behaviour. It’s a hugely theatrical, bold and thrilling play to premiere and will be directed by Michael Fentiman.
We also premiere a new play by Katherine Chandler, known to Sherman audiences from her heart-breaking piece Bird. Lose Yourself (10 – 25 May) is a funny and disturbing play; set in a world of lower league football, poverty and lack of opportunity, the characters use sex as both escape and transaction. Looking at rape culture in football, Lose Yourself has much to say about the objectification of young women, and the commodification of talent. It will be directed by Patricia Logue.
We also present Saethu Cwningod / Shooting Rabbits (1 – 4 May), the first new work from our new bilingual Company in Residence, PowderHouse. This piece, in Basque, Spanish, Welsh and English will be a vibrant and physical exploration of politics and power. I am so pleased to also tell you that our fourth co-production with RWCMD’s NEW project will be written by Jacob Hodgkinson, from our New Welsh Playwrights’ Programme, and directed by Hannah Noone, of our JMK/Sherman Directors’ Group. I am delighted to be able to create opportunities for emerging Welsh talent to evolve their professional practice in this way having been nurtured over the past three years by Sherman’s artist development programme. Both of these schemes are generously funded by The Carne Trust.
Following a hugely successful first season in Autumn 2018 our platform for the best emerging theatre companies in South Wales, Get It While It’s Hot returns. This season we will welcome Cardiff’s Spilt Milk Theatre to the Sherman with Five Green Bottles (9 – 13 Apr).
I am delighted our relationship with the National Theatre’s Connections Festival continues. This is such an important initiative in helping to support the development of young performers and aspiring theatre makers. Our wonderful Youth Theatre will perform Ageless by Benjamin Kuffuor, directed by Sherman’s Communities and Engagement Coordinator Timothy Howe, in March before presenting the play as part of the National Theatre Connections Festival 2019 at the Sherman in late April.
We also continue to partner with external companies including with Cardiff’s brilliant Hijinx Theatre whose production with Teatro La Ribalta and Frantic Assembly, Into The Light (14 – 16 Feb) will receive its world premiere performances at the Sherman. As ever, the Sherman provides stages for exceptional Welsh companies including Frân Wen with Anweledig (12 & 13 Mar) and National Dance Company Wales present a mixed bill programme entitled Awakening (1 & 2 May) . The programme is completed with the broad mix of comedy, dance and high quality family theatre from visiting companies which our audiences have come to expect.
It just remains for me to say goodbye. The theatre I leave is not the theatre I arrived in almost five years ago. This is down to the fact that our audiences have been prepared to come with us on a journey of reinvention, and that artists have made such extraordinary work for our stages. Diolch o galon.”