Ones to Watch: How My Light Is Spent, Sherman Theatre

With the exceptional pairing of Welsh actors Rhodri Meilir and Alexandria Riley, How My Light Is Spent (which has already won the Judges Award, a top award at the 2015 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting) is the much anticipated new play from the Cardiff-based playwright Alan Harris. Its Welsh premiere at Sherman Theatre, the co-producers of How My Light is Spent with Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre and Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, comes just weeks after their production of Killology by Gary Owen debuted with universal acclaim.

Now with a track-record for telling powerful Welsh stories under the leadership of Artistic Director Rachel O’Riordan, Sherman Theatre is building a reputation for developing exceptional new Welsh writing and creating theatre that connects with audiences across the UK and beyond. With Owen’s Iphigenia in Splott selling-out in Berlin and now on its way for a season in New York, How My Light is Spent opens in Manchester before it plays at Sherman Theatre from 16 – 27 May 2017.

Rachel O’Riordan said “The Sherman is committed to developing and promoting the work of Welsh writers here, across the UK and internationally. This is our second co-production with the Royal Exchange, after last year’s Bird by Katherine Chandler. We are delighted to be working with them again, and with new partners Theatre by the Lake. I’m sure audiences will enjoy How My Light is Spent as much as they did Alan Harris’s previous show here, Love, Lies and Taxidermy which the Sherman produced with Paines Plough and Theatr Clwyd. I’m especially glad to further develop our relationship with the JMK (supported by The Carne Trust) on this project, as How my Light is Spent is directed by JMK winner Liz Stevenson.”

Love, Lies and Taxidermy was Harris’s previous production for Sherman Theatre in 2016 and proved a hit with audiences in Cardiff and at Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Similarly, How My Light Is Spent is a funny, hopeful play. Every Wednesday evening, Jimmy calls Kitty. For precisely nine minutes. At £1.20 a minute. Jimmy is 36, lives with his mum and works at Newport’s only drive-through doughnut restaurant. Kitty is a phone sex worker living in the granny flat of a topiary enthusiast. Things were looking up for Jimmy when he met Kitty for the first time, but then he loses his job at the drive-in and starts to feel a strange tingling in his fingers.

Rhodri Meilir is one of the most recognisable Welsh actors in TV and Film and takes on the role of Jimmy. He is well known for his role in the long-running and much-loved sitcom My Family. His extensive work for television includes Afterlife, Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather, Doctor Who, Y Pris, Caerdydd, Teulu, Tipyn o Stad, Cyw and Y Gwyll. Rhodri received a BAFTA nomination for his performance in the lead role of Trefor in Gwlad y Astra Gwyn in 2013. Rhodri has been most recently seen on TV in Byw Celwydd. Rhodri’s film credits include Matthew Warchus’s hugely popular Pride. Rhodri has worked regularly on stage for companies including HOME Manchester, Liverpool Everyman, National Theatre Wales, Theatr Bara Caws and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru.

Alexandria Riley plays Kitty, she graduated from Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in 2016. Born in Newport, where the play is set, Alex’s credits include the Sherman Theatre production of All That I Am which was performed by the Richard Burton Company as part of NEW: 2016 at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Gate Theatre, London. Her other credits include The Wide Sargasso Sea, BBC Radio Wales, Britt-Marie was Here, BBC Radio, alongside Pippa Haywood, and a lead role in a well-known radio series soon to be announced. She recently received a five star review in The Stage for her role as Camae in The Mountaintop by Katori Hall at The Other Room, Cardiff, which is due to tour in October 2017.

How My Light Is Spent is written by Alan Harris and directed by JMK Young Director Award winning Director Liz Stevenson, and receives its Welsh premiere at the Sherman 16 – 27 May.