Awen Training Schools
With this series of three training schools in three separate locations, the focus of our brief was to ensure that the impact of Ar Waith Ar Daith, a major one-off commission by the Wales Millennium Centre, was felt widely across the artistic and geographic landscape of Wales.
We identified artists with at least two years’ professional experience and an interest in taking their practice into the outdoors to spend a week together exploring a variety of techniques which they then tried out for real by creating work in the public realm. Our experts were joined by guest artists from Wales to deliver training sessions that ranged from technical to practical via inspiring discussions and plenty of playtime.
The focus for the first week, developed with Galeri, in North Wales was on the use of fire, fireworks and light in nighttime performance. The evening event delighted an audience of local families, and lit up the Menai Straits with fiery performance before a fishing boat set sail carrying a giant scallop lantern.
Storytelling and site-responsive performance were the focus for the second School, held in the magical setting of Castell-y-Bere in mid-Wales, managed by cadw, our partners in this rural adventure. Tales of witchery and mischief, accompanied by traditional musicians and plenty of fire, were part of the audience’s night time exploration of Llewellyn’s ruined castle. Bad weather forced a change of location on the second night which in turn provided a fantastic live learning experience for the Awen practitioners.
The third week’s school in partnership with the Riverfront, Newport, south Wales, used daytime processional and carnival making techniques to explore outdoor parades in the context of community celebration. For the live event, dancers drawn from Newport accompanied the giant cauldron of fire that rolled through the streets of Maindee before coming to rest below aerial dancers working to a beautiful soundtrack played live by Sinfonia Cymru.
Four months later, many of the Awen practitioners returned to take part in Ar Waith Ar Daith’s finale in Cardiff Bay, putting some of the skills they had learnt into practice in the context of one of Wales’s largest outdoor performances, broadcast live by S4C.
Visiting experts and other partners from Wales included artist Marc Rees, storyteller Peter Stephenson, fireshow specialist Goffee, Mr and Mrs Clark, Hijinx, SWICA, Crafted Space, NoFit State Circus, Citrus Arts, Chloe Loftus Dance, Desperate Men, the Maindee Festival, the Big Splash Festival, and Articulture.
Image: Keith Morris