A very merry Wales Millennium Centre gift guide

It’s the most wonderful time of the year (albeit slightly stressful, if you’ve not started your Christmas shopping). With the twinkle of fairy lights and the earthy smell of pine trees, it’s hard to resist the magic of the festive season.

To make it as stress-free as possible we’ve come up with a stellar selection of gifts for everyone in your life. The best part? Everything in this list is easy to wrap, so don’t worry about having to fight with the sticky tape. A very merry Wales Millennium Centre gift guide

The Third Marquess of Bute: Real and Imagined

Our second ever stage production, Tiger Bay The Musial, focuses on a young girl’s struggle to challenge society’s injustices, follow her heart and realise her dreams. Based in Cardiff’s revolutionary 20th century, Tiger Bay The Musical is an epic amalgamation of fact and fiction. Dr Andrew Richardson, of Cardiff University, gives us detailed insight into what one of our pivotal character’s, Third Marquess of Bute, was really like.

The Third Marquess of Bute: Real and Imagined

Spotlight on November

The hats and scarves are officially out, and for those more organised, maybe then Christmas shopping has even begun? For us at the centre, all systems are go go go. November is the month that two spectacular musicals take on our Donald Gordon Theatre. Our very own epic production, Tiger Bay The Musical explores Cardiff in the early 1900s and Cameron Mackintosh’s world-renowned production, Miss Saigon, returns to the Centre as our Christmas treat.

Spotlight on November

Chwyddwydr ar Fis Tachwedd

Mae’r hetiau a’r sgarffiau allan yn barod, ac ar gyfer y rheiny sy’n fwy trefnus, efallai bod y siopa Nadolig wedi dechrau’n barod? I ni yn y ganolfan, mae pob system ar ‘fynd’. Tachwedd yw mis y bydd dwy sioe gerdd anhygoel yn cymryd drosodd y Theatr Donald Gordon. Mae ein cynhyrchiad epig ni, Tiger Bay The Musical, yn archwilio Caerdydd yn yr 1900au cynnar, ac mae cynhyrchiad byd-enwog Cameron Mackintosh, Miss Saigon, yn dychwelyd i’r Ganolfan fel ein trt Nadolig.

Chwyddwydr ar Fis Tachwedd

The Hartlepool Monkey

Gyda themâu moesoldeb, senoffobia, ac ofn yr anhysbys, mae’n sicr y bydd cynulleidfaoedd yn siarad. Gyda graddfa gynulleidfa o 10+, bydd mwnci swynol Gyre & Gimble yn ennill calonnau’r teulu cyfan.

As its seven-week national tours reaches the Centre, Co-Directors Toby Olié and Finn Caldwell talk about audience reactions to the production so far, and how it has developed since 2014.

Having both originally grown up in the North East we knew the tale of The Hartlepool Monkey for many years. In 2014, just after we’d worked together on The Elephantom, we found ourselves once again remembering the myth whilst looking for a new story with a potential puppet protagonist for our next show as Gyre & Gimble.

Cut to three years and two periods of research and development later, this week The Hartlepool Monkey goes off on tour nationally. And how different the nation is that it will tour to. The themes always present in the myth – of fear and xenophobia – feel more charged and vivid. How couldn’t they, with what’s happened around the world in the last 36 months. The work has changed too. Instead of a backdrop to the narrative of Napoleon the Chimpanzee, we’ve spent much time to ensure Hartlepool has its own characters and rhythm before the French arrive. And though the locality of the myth remains celebrated through inclusions like asides to Middlesbrough, Hartlepool has also come to represent something bigger than itself through the universality of the tale.

It was really important to us that the Hartlepudlians who attended the London performances enjoyed the show – on those evenings it was brilliant to hear recognition as places like Eston Nab, Yarm and Billingham rang familiar to those people as they did to us during the first read-through in 2015. There’s pride in the myth in Hartlepool, and in how they’ve adopted the tale through things like their football team nickname ‘Monkey Hangers’ with their mascot ‘H’Angus the Monkey’, and the monkey statue in the town which our actors all can’t wait to see in person when they visit Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre.

Along with laughter there’s also been much debate after the show; of whether the myth is true, of its resonance, and on how the puppeteers could hold chimpanzee postures for as long as they did (lots of practice). Both children and adults have taken different things away from the work which is one of the biggest delights in creating a show for such a broad age range.

On tour we hope that debate continues, and Fuel have arranged several Theatre Clubs (like book clubs for theatre) and post-show talks to encourage discussion. What excites us most as theatre directors is how the work connects with its audience who give it meaning, and resonates differently in different places and times. Touring The Hartlepool Monkey in 2017 gives us a peak into a town in the North East during the Napoleonic Wars but it also gives us insight into the world around us today in fascinating ways. We look forward to hearing what you think. 

The Hartlepool Monkey tours nationally 7th November – 19th November 2017.