By Jon Gower
Politically a process of devolution has produced a National Assembly in the country but culturally, too, new energies are being released. Wales is a net exporter of artistic talent, which seems appropriate enough, for as Welsh heavy industry ran down this small country on the western rim of Europe become a manufactory of world class actors, from Richard Burton through Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce to Michael Sheen, a production line which shows little sign of stopping. A national Welsh language company, Theatr Genedlaethol, established in 2003, set the scene, as it were, for a new National Theatre Wales (NTW) working in English, which started producing new work in spring 2010. This new company has just embarked upon its ambitious first year, with site-specific productions mapping all parts of Wales, incuding a production of Aeschylus’ Persians on a military range, work staged on north Wales beaches and ending with a huge community venture in the steel town of Port Talbot under the direction of Michael Sheen. NTW’s work will complement the output of established companies such as Clwyd Theatr Cymru and Milford Haven’s Torch Theatre have shaped fine and memorable productions year on year.
Performance art of all kinds has its place too and practitioners such as Marc Rees, whose often intimate and autobiographical work investigates the homoerotic and Eddie Ladd’s intensely realized works such as ‘Scarface’ and "The Bobby Sands Memorial Race’ which couple sense of place with urgency of expression have helped them establish international reputations and a legion of creative connections. Movement artist Simon Whitehead’s output is often prompted by walks, be they along the length of the river Ystwyth or the streets of Barcelona. He has been a keen collaborator, not least with sound artist Barnaby Oliver.