Ones to watch: My Country, Sherman Theatre

Photography: Sarah Lee

The National Theatre has collaborated with National Theatre Wales to create My Country; a work in progress, a new play inspired by the recent EU Referendum. It will be coming to Sherman Theatre in Cardiff from 2 – 6 May 2017 as part of a UK tour following its recent run at the NT’s Dorfman Theatre in London.

In the days following the Brexit vote, teams from the National Theatre and eight UK arts organisations spoke to people nationwide, from Leicester to Derry/Londonderry and Merthyr Tydfil to Glasgow aged 9 to 87, to hear their views. In a series of interviews, they heard opinions that were honest, emotional, funny and sometimes extreme.  These testimonials are interwoven with speeches from political leaders to create a new play by Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate, and directed by National Theatre Artistic Director Rufus Norris.

The National Theatre approached its Welsh cousin, National Theatre Wales, to lead on the conversations here in Wales, inspired by NTW’s strong track record of meaningful dialogue and creative collaboration with communities. NTW, in turn, asked artist Rhiannon White of Common Wealth theatre company, to interview people living in Merthyr Tydfil. Rhiannon has an equally strong background in finding access to the right voices and hearing their most heartfelt stories and feelings. Her conversations have been instrumental in creating Wales’ own contribution to this hugely important project.

Britannia (played by Penny Layden) calls a meeting to listen to her people: Caledonia (played by Stuart McQuarrie), Cymru (played by Christian Patterson), East Midlands (played by Seema Bowri), North East (played by Laura Elphinstone), Northern Ireland (played by Cavan Clarke), and South West (played by Adam Ewan).

Artistic Director of the National Theatre, Rufus Norris, said, ‘One of my ambitions for the National Theatre is to make it truly national and through collaboration, embrace the creativity and opinion around the UK.  The Brexit vote unleashed a host of questions about our country, way beyond the issue of Britain’s role in Europe. It articulated a deep disaffection.  Those elements provoked a need and opportunity to create a piece of theatre that responds to that palpable sense of frustration and disillusionment.  Art has always responded to what is happening now and it’s what I hope we achieve with My Country.’

Christian Patterson, who plays Cymru was born in Swansea, grew up in Clydach and trained at the Welsh College of Music and Drama.  Christian, who now lives in Neath, was awarded the ‘Best Actor’ honour at the Wales Theatre Awards in 2016 and is an associate actor of Theatr Clwyd where his many credits include:  Insignificance, All My Sons and Aristocrats and As You Like It.

For more details and to book tickets, visit the Sherman Theatre website.