National Theatre Wales stages Love Letters fest as NHS celebrates 70th

Celebrations have begun to mark the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service and in Wales, birthplace of its founder, Aneurin Bevan, National Theatre Wales has a month-long festival planned that will bring stories of and about the NHS to communities around the country.

National Theatre Wales’ multi-artform NHS70 Festival is inspired by the staff and patients of the unique institution.

This country-wide event will feature productions and events, includes new writing, contemporary dance, music, comedy, immersive and sensory theatre, made and performed all over Wales, including hospitals, schools and arts venues in Carmarthen, Welshpool, Wrexham, Bangor and Tredegar, birthplace of the Nye Bevan.

The festival will tickle audiences’ funnybones and touch their hearts with a breadth of new work celebrating many facets of the NHS.

It includes collaborations with Welsh, British and international artists and companies including Oily Cart, Gruff Rhys, Migrations, Alan Davies, Maria Fusco and Roy Williams.

Love Letters to the NHS are five new solo shows, by five writers, performed the length and breadth of Wales.

These monologues will be intimate, heartfelt love letters to an institution with which all of us have had – or will have – a relationship, at some stage of our lives…

Cotton Fingers, written by Rachel Trezise and directed by Julia Thomas, follows the emotive journey of a young Belfast girl who travels in her mother’s footsteps to west Wales, seeking an abortion.

A compassionate one-woman play, written just over half a century since abortion was legalised in Wales.

Playing Aberaeron Memorial Hall, Ceredigion, 4-5 July and Merlin Theatre, Pembrokeshire College, Haverfordwest, 7 July.

Peggy’s Song, written by Katherine Chandler and directed by Phil Clark, is a comic slice of Welsh new writing.

Peggy’s Song is both a light-hearted, one-man show about a hospital radio DJ, but also a touching tribute to the volunteers who give their time to the NHS.

Part of Wrexfest, Peggy’s Song plays at Undegun, Regent Street, Wrexham, 5-7 July.

The Stick-Maker Tales, written by Peter Cox and directed by Kully Thiarai. A mid-Wales hill farmer, nearing retirement, reflects on a lifetime’s work on the farm, and his memories of life before the Service came to being.

Playing Pavilion Mid Wales, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, 11-12 July and Welshpool Town Hall, Powys, 14 July.

For All I Care, written by Alan Harris and directed by Jac Ifan Moore. In Tredegar, Clara sees signs that lead to Peacocks and takes a trip to a mental health unit.

Nurse Nyri wants to do the best for her patients, but increasing pressures on the NHS mean she might not get the chance.

Playing at Tredegar Little Theatre, Blaenau Gwent, 12-14 July.

Come Back Tomorrow written by Roy Williams an directed by Paulette Randall, is a one-woman show that follows the story of two nurses – one who emigrates to Wales from Jamaica in 1952, the other her granddaughter 50 years on – both of who find themselves making a complex, lifelong commitment to the NHS.

Playing at The Chapel, Singleton Hospital, Sketty, Swansea, 26-28 July.

As Long As The Heart Beats co-directed by Marcus Romer and Ben Tinniswood with original music by Tic Ashfield.

This site-specific, theatrical journey is inspired by, and situated in, the Outpatient Department at Royal Gwent Hospital.

Featuring specially-composed music and interactive elements, As Long as the Heart Beats has care and compassion at its heart, just like the NHS itself.

Drawing on the stories NTW have collected from people across Wales over 12 months, this brand new production will celebrate the dedication and care provided every day by the NHS.

In intimate groups, the audience will be invited to hear stories from staff and patients sharing their experiences of the first 70 years of the NHS, including some of the groundbreaking work performed here in Wales.

Outpatient Department, Royal Gwent Hospital, Cardiff Road, Newport, 21-22 July.

Laughter Is The Best Medicine is a night of live comedy compèred by actor and comedian Elis James, in his hometown of Carmarthen.

It will be headlined by Alan Davies (QI, Damned), and feature health-themed sets from Angela Barnes, Steve Day, Ed Gamble, Rosie Jones, Nadia Kamil, Nish Kumar and Jonny Pelham.

The Lyric Theatre, Carmarthen, 21 July.

The comedy continues with Eczema! Created by art writer, Maria Fusco, Eczema explores the life of eczema; a skin disease affecting an estimated 15 million people in the UK, including the writer herself.

Fusco’s black comedy will mingle the itching and scratching cycles of eczema into an absurdist, celebratory score of spoken word and music.

BBC Hoddinott Hall, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, July 28.

For more detailed information click HERE

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