Originally scheduled as part of Sherman Theatre’s Autumn 2020 season, The Merthyr Stigmatist will be presented in a co-production with Theatre Uncut this Spring as a fully-staged digital production recorded in the Sherman Theatre Studio.
Wales-based playwright Lisa Parry’s play was shortlisted for the inaugural Theatre Uncut Political Playwriting Award, and the show will be directed by Theatre Uncut’s Co-Artistic Director Emma Callander to mark the tenth anniversary of the company’s founding.
Taking place in a Merthyr Tydfil classroom, The Merthyr Stigmatist sees faith, reason and politics collide when Carys, a sixteen year-old school pupil claims to have received the wounds of Christ. Carys is convinced that her wounds are a sign from God and is crying out to be heard. Siân, Carys’s teacher is not so sure. Filled with doubt, Siân believes silencing Carys will keep her safe, but can she make sense of what is happening to her young pupil?
Following an open call out, Merthyr Tydfil born and raised actor Bethan McLean makes her professional debut in the role of Carys. The cast for this two-hander is completed by fellow Welsh actress Bethan Mary-James in the role of school teacher Siân. Bethan recently appeared in the digital production of Antigone by the Sherman’s Company in Residence PowderHouse, which formed part of Network Play Readings series with Sherman Theatre and National Theatre Wales in partnership with BBC Wales and BBC Arts. Other theatre credits include Much Ado About Nothing at Tobacco Factory Theatres and Future For Beginners at Wales Millennium Centre. Bethan’s TV credits include Channel 4’s comedy Friday Night Dinner.
Writer Lisa Parry said “Theatre’s starting to come back but we’re coming back into a very different world. Whose stories should we now be telling? Who gets to tell them? At its heart is the voice of a girl in an overlooked town, desperately wanting to be heard and valued. And as theatre ghost lights remained switched on, I felt her voice was at risk of being muffled and yet it kept screaming relentlessly in my head. I’m grateful this production is letting that voice out; and that a new play from Wales is determinedly finding its way into the world too as our theatre buildings remain closed to the public. I’m really proud to be working with Theatre Uncut and the Sherman Theatre who’ve decided to embrace this new world with this production, which – whilst I promise some comedy and I absolutely adore both characters more than I can say – does feel at times like a gauntlet and a plea to think about whose voices we listen to and who we choose to be.”
Sherman Theatre and Theatre Uncut have assembled a formidable creative team to bring this major new Welsh play to life under the direction of Emma Callander, Theatre Uncut’s Co-Artistic Director. The creative team includes: Designer Elin Steele (Woof, Sherman Theatre, Llyfr Glas Nebo, Cwmni Fran Wen), Composer Eädyth, who recently collaborated on Sherman Theatre’s Heart of Cardiff audio season, Sound Designer Ian Barnard (Alice in Wonderland, Sherman Theatre) and Lighting Designer Andy Pike (Lose Yourself, Sherman Theatre). Carli De’La Hughes will join the team as Assistant Director, a development opportunity supported by Ashley Family Foundation.