N.O.W. / H.G.A
Hi Emma,

Thanks very much for the meeting yesterday morning, it was very encouraging and we look forward to firming some ideas up in the near future. I wish i’d recorded the meeting as i’m bound to have forgotten some relevant, and potentially relevant bits, but hope the following outlines some of the things we talked about and some steps to take. Also a couple of things i forgot to mention, particularly the bilingual nature of the work and the involvement of GNFTF. This is a kind of ‘place holder’ outline, written against the backdrop of a rather discombobulated baby, so please do provoke me to expand on any thing i may have said, or not said.! …oh, and that the Eisteddfod is in Pontypridd in 2022, which i presume is also Festival of Voice year

Working title – Hen Gymru Arferol / Normal Old Wales

A bilingual / multilingual performative celebration of the continuity of innovation, imagination, invention and reinvigoration, a reclamation and re-examination of the arcane, traditional and fantastical. Inspired by the remaking of Wales during the Industrial revolution and attempts to retain individual identity in the face of change. Evoking the multifaceted spirits of Dr William Price, surgeon, cremator, chartist, druid and dreamer of the first museum of Welsh culture; William Edwards the rookie builder of a bridge in the middle of nowhere, longer than the Rialto bridge, that collapsed 3 times; and Dr Griffith who opened the coalfields of the Rhondda to the world and sped empire on its way. Mix in a little Hieronymus Bosch, rave culture, a Vietnamese former break-dance champion and the currently unknown, the outcome is…

Partially a reaction to the mainstreaming of the concept of “New Weird Britain” in the music world this project focuses on the historical, and continuing, need for Wales to imagine itself into being. And this is not simply a domestic project, rather one that over time has drawn on other parts of Britain and an active, and not always comfortable, relationship with Empire and other International projects.

What might it look like?
A series of small scale explorations and presentations of materials between March 2020 and 2022 with the ambition to build up to a large-scale performance to coincide with the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol in Rhondda Cynon Taf, possibly at the site of Newbridge chain works, Pontypridd common/Rockingstone, parks/underpasses, derelict tinworks, canal remnants, etc. Sites of significance and mundanity. Subtle alterations of existing landscapes through ‘reverse graffiti’ lighting, projection, gardening, installation, etc throughout the area in addition to more explicitly performative elements.
Who might it involve?
Conceived and co-ordinated by good cop bad cop the project will involve a range of domestic and international collaborators for the individual elements:

Former champion breakdancer and now experimental performer/dancer from Vietnam, Nguyễn Duy Thành (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyiykdKX6YU) who is currently working alongside John on Heiner Goebbels latest project. (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/02/arts/music/heiner-goebbels-park-avenue-armory.html). We are particularly interested in Thanh’s attitude to combining traditional Vietnamese aesthetics with Western Influences as an almost non-existent contemporary arts scene in Vietnam opens itself to free market influences

Leading experimental harpist Rhodri Davies, possibly involving members of Hen Ogled, (https://www.culturecolony.com/media/video/hen-ogledd-problem-child) and/or Cwmwl Tyson, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHS8gJn29Vo) Having appreciated each others recent performances Rhodri Davies and good cop bad cop are keen to explore what collaboration might produce.

Pete Telfer, Culture Colony. Legendary champion and documenter of arts and music in Wales since the late 80’s, now looking for new creative potential of 360* cameras.

Pete Elastic Eye (moreeyes.co.uk) Content creation, live visuals, technical production Wu Tang Clan, Stormy, DeafRave.com and Public Service Broadcasting

James Cocks, NewCelf. In autumn 2019 gcbc will be acting as mentors to visual artist James Cocks (https://www.experiencewalesinvenice.org/invigilators/james-cocks) on his new project with newCelf (https://www.facebook.com/newCELFevents/) to explore the relationship between artist/authors, directors and performers. James has chosen to work with us for our appreciation of, and ability to, switch between ‘performing’ and ‘not performing’, to work with liminality in addition to the theatrical. We are keen to encourage this, and would hope to develop this further as part of this overall project – perhaps through the ‘Performance for passing vehicles’ strand that I mentioned

Good News From the Future (GNFTF) – over 55’s dance company including several veterans of the experimental dance and performance scene in Wales (https://www.gordons.photos/museum-pieces), currently working with Sam Barnes (https://www.samuelbarnes.co.uk/) We would be keen to involve GNFTF, that both of us have worked with, both in potential work with Thanh, and in their own right.

How might WMC benefit
We would be keen to integrate our experimental process in tandem with WMC’s musical / sonic remit, not least in relation to its Festival of Voice, and its desire to extend the breadth of voices represented. As mentioned we have previous experience in this area as part of the DT100 festival, and would be keen to revist this (https://bit.ly/2WzCs6j)
Reinvigorate the distinctive Welsh performance tradition of the apparently spectacular that is not part of The Spectacle.
To position WMC at the forefront of bilingual performance, a role difficult for either NTW or Theatr Genedlaethol to justify.
To fulfil its remit of being an institution for Wales, not just Cardiff, though in this instance helping to support the Cardiff Capital Region (https://www.cardiffcapitalregion.wales/about/)

Potential Partnerships
British Council Vietnam
British Council Wales
Arts Council Wales
Cardiff Capital Region
Pontypridd Town Council
Visiting Arts (Chief executive is a member of GNFTF)

First steps
March/April 2020 Thanh to visit Wales, make contacts with vietnamese community and Welsh dance community, potential workshops and performances. Possibly in collaboration with Good News From the Future

April / May 2020 Initial brainstorming collaboration with Rhodri Davies and other musicians

March / May 2020 To develop a work plan and partnerships for further stages towards a major presentation in 2022

Trefforest 12th June 2019