Unique public performances held in the ruins of ancient Welsh Castle

Monday 11 May 2015

On Friday 1 and Saturday 2 May Wales Millennium Centre presented two unique public performances in Castell y Bere as part of Ar Waith ar Daith, a journey of Welsh myth and magic.

  • Picture of an Ar Waith Ar Daith event at Castell y Bere

    Ar Waith Ar Daith event at Castell y Bere

  • Picture of an Ar Waith Ar Daith event at Castell y Bere

    Ar Waith Ar Daith event at Castell y Bere

  • Picture of an Ar Waith Ar Daith event at Castell y Bere

    Ar Waith Ar Daith event at Castell y Bere

  • Picture of an Ar Waith Ar Daith event at Castell y Bere

    Ar Waith Ar Daith event at Castell y Bere

The performance Spinning a Yarn was set within the grounds of the 13th century castle, Castell Y Bere and was created by outdoor arts experts Walk the Plank for Wales Millennium Centre.

Ar Waith Ar Daith is an epic artistic journey across the length and breadth of Wales to mark the 10th anniversary of Wales Millennium Centre, the national centre for the performing arts. It will culminate in a spectacular performance outside Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff on Saturday 12 September 2015.

This performance was the culmination of the second Lloyds Bank Awen School, training outdoor art professionals for the future.

The five month long journey launched with a torch lit lantern parade, created by Walk the Plank together with artists and trainees from the first Lloyds Bank Awen School, in Caernarfon on 26 March 2015.

Graeme Farrow, Artistic Director at Wales Millennium Centre, adds: “One of our key ambitions at Wales Millennium Centre is to inspire the whole of Wales and to facilitate the burgeoning creativity of our nation. With Ar Waith Ar Daith - a journey of Welsh myth and magic we are bringing Wales Millennium Centre out of its iconic building and gathering up the artistic energy of Wales into our furnace of creativity.  I hope this unique event in the special environment of Castell y Bere connects people with the fiery excitement of live theatre that you can taste all around Wales, as well as whetting everyone’s appetite for the finale at the Centre in Cardiff on Saturday 12 September.”

The journey arrived in mid Wales when Walk the Plank took up residency in the 13th century castle, one of the last surviving Welsh built castles, founded by Llywelyn Fawr / Llewellyn The Great. The event was held in association with Cadw, Wales’ national heritage organisation.

Ffion Reynolds, Heritage and the Arts Engagement Manager said: “Cadw sites can be furnaces for creativity and imagination and this latest leg in the epic journey of Ar Waith Ar Daith across Wales is another example of that. We are pleased to be working in partnership with the Welsh Millennium centre on this project and performance at  Castell y Bere which I am sure will inspire imaginations about the past and performance arts”.

20 artists and creative practitioners, many drawn from the local area, worked together with storytellers and musicians who work with the traditional tales and songs of the bards in Wales today. They worked within the ruin of the castle for a week, come rain or shine, against the backdrop of Cadair Idris. This landscape provided the creative inspiration for the second Lloyds Bank Awen School training school in outdoor arts.

150 people a night attended and were joined by legends from the time of Taliesin told in shadow play, music and fiery installation, as storytellers spun tales of witches, magic potions stirred by farm boys in giant cauldrons, hares and hounds, fat black hens and the birth of the bard himself. You can also follow this journey via the Ar Waith Ar Daith website or on social media through the Ar Waith Ar Daith Facebook or the Ar Waith Ar Daith Twitter pages.

Talking about the challenges of siting a training school and presenting a performance to the public in Castell y Bere, Liz Pugh, Artistic Director for Walk the Plank, says: “For anyone who knows Castell y Bere, you immediately understand why Llywelyn Fawr sited his formidable castle there – it’s remote and difficult to get to.  We have to thank Cadw and various local people for supporting us in using the inspirational site for a week long training school which culminated in public performances.”

“We were off grid, and in a very beautiful but challenging environment at Castell y Bere. The practicalities of this venue mean that this was a once in a generation experience for audiences – and the sheer beauty of the place made for a truly magical event.”

A key aspect of Ar Waith Ar Daith is the development of adventurous training in outdoor arts for creative practioners in Wales through the Lloyds Bank Awen training schools. Taking place across three sites in Wales, the schools reflect different aspects of ‘place’ and heritage in Wales and take their inspiration from different artistic traditions. The schools are supported Lloyds Bank, Gwynedd Council and the Arts Council of Wales.

The word ‘Awen’, which means Inspiration, is taken from part of Gwyneth Lewis’ inscription on Wales Millennium Centre: creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration. The Lloyds Bank Awen training schools are a wider legacy for Wales Millennium Centre’s 10th anniversary programme, and part of the Centre’s remit to nurture creativity right across the Welsh nation.

After Castell y Bere the final Lloyds Bank Awen School, takes place in Newport. ‘The Earth beneath our Feet’ in Newport, South Wales, on Saturday 30 May, is inspired by the industrial heritage of South Wales, is linked to the Maindee Festival and forms the finale of the Big Splash festival.