NEWS: The search is on for Welsh amateur playwrights @velvetcoalminer #Blackwood #VelvetGoldmineArts

Iain Richards, founder of Velvet Coalmine

Velvet Coalmine, a music, literature and arts festival now in its fourth year, takes place between 7 – 16 September 2017 in Blackwood. As part of this year’s festival it has teamed up with Blackwood Little Theatre to find the newest and boldest playwrights from across Wales to write a one act play which will be read and appraised by four experienced and published authors.

The festival of writing, rock & roll and coal started in 2014 and since then has been instrumental in raising the profile of the area and the aspirations of local children and families. This competition will go that one step further, giving amateur writers the leg up they need.

Neil Maidman from the Blackwood Little Theatre, said: “It doesn’t matter if you haven’t had anything published, acted out or written anything before. This competition is all about finding new and raw talent that we can help get onto a bigger stage.”

Iain Richards, founder of Velvet Coalmine, added: “Since we started the festival we have had one aim – to empower local children to be whoever they want to be and do whatever they want to do. We hope that by launching this play writing competition and showcasing local talent to a wider audience, someone’s talent will get recognised amongst experts in their field.”

Here’s what you need to know to enter:

·       You should submit a one act play for at least two performers. It cannot be a monologue

·       The duration of the play should be around 40 – 50 minutes

·       The play should not have been previously published

·       Entries will only be accepted by authors over 18

·       Equal consideration will be given to English and Welsh language entries.

·       There is a prize of £250 for the winner and £100 for the runner up.

·       Winning play will have a script in hand public reading at Velvet Coalmine.

·      Entries should be e-mailed to by midnight on the 31stJuly 2017

The winners will be announced on Friday 15 September at the festival. The full line up of acts will be announced on the 30 June along with ticket sales to the festival. For further information and criteria for entry go to



NEWS: @TheCentre bringing #CardiffBay to life #Awen2015

Wales Millennium Centre to bring Cardiff Bay to life in breath-taking display, drawing inspiration from across Wales

Picture supplied by Grafic House : Swansea, 07903 809884. Picture sent of behalf of the Wales Millennium Centre marketting department. Last night visitors to the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff were treated to a stunning fireworks display
Picture supplied by Grafic House : Swansea, 07903 809884.
Picture sent of behalf of the Wales Millennium Centre marketting department.
Last night visitors to the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff were treated to a stunning fireworks display

A year in the planning and over 8 months in the making, Wales Millennium Centre presents, Ar Waith Ar Daith, a Welsh journey of myth and magic – a spectacular highlight of their tenth anniversary programme created by world renowned outdoor arts company Walk the Plank. Taking place on an immense scale in Roald Dahl Plass on 12 September 2015, Ar Waith Ar Daith will present a breath-taking display of procession, dance, aerial artistry, projection, storytelling, music and pyrotechnics.

Follow the journey on #Awen2015

Free to attend and suitable for all the family, this unforgettable event – the largest outdoor production to take place in Wales this year – will bring together over 700 participants from across the country

Lured by the magical powers of Ceridwen the enchantress, a flotilla of boats from the Welsh Sea Rowing Association – some from as far away as Porthmadog – will complete their odyssey in Cardiff Bay, joining children and young people from Caernarfon, Mid Wales and the Valleys. The role of Ceridwen will be performed by the incredible Shân Cothi and will feature a new choral composition from Bafta award-winning composer John Rea, performed by Sinfonia Cymru and featuring spoken word performance from school children from Cardiff and Harlech.

With the age-old tale of the birth of Taliesin at its heart, this incredible performance will see Wales Millennium Centre itself transformed through collective imagination as Ceridwen works her magic, mixing the poetic inspiration, the Awen, of contemporary Wales with the talents of dancers, musicians and singers.

Graeme Farrow, Artistic Director at Wales Millennium Centre comments: Ar Waith Ar Daith far exceeds anything, by way of scale, that we have ever commissioned here at Wales Millennium the Centre. It has been fantastic to work with outdoor arts experts, Walk the Plank throughout the year-long planning and creation process. One of our key ambitions here at Wales Millennium Centre is to inspire the whole of Wales and to facilitate the burgeoning creativity of our nation. Ar Waith Ar Daith has embraced this fully, working closely with Welsh artists and communities and expertly weaving this creativity and inspiration into the finale performance. I am extremely excited for September 12 for what will no doubt remain a landmark event in the Centre’s history for decades to come.’

Over the past six months, the creative team involved in the event have been gathering gifts from across Wales – paying tribute to the riches of the seas around North Wales, the mineral wealth of South Wales, and capturing stories and inspiration from across the land – through a series of outdoor arts training schools offered to Welsh creative practitioners. These gifts will form an integral and visually stunning element of the performance.

The Ar Waith Ar Daith event will take place in Roald Dahl Plass on Saturday 12 September at 7.30pm. Audiences are advised to arrive early to secure a good vantage position to watch the show, and to dress appropriately for an outdoor show.  The event is free to attend and suitable for all ages.

Find out more about Ar Waith Ar Daith at, via the Ar Waith Ar Daith Facebook event page and on the hashtag #awen2015

Ar Waith Ar Daith is made possible by the kind support of Lloyds Bank, principal sponsors of Wales Millennium Centre’s 10th anniversary.

NEWS: @TheCentre #Cardiff Annual Folk Festival returns



With the season of music festivals fast approaching, Wales Millennium Centre kicks off the season with their annual folk festival Calan Mai.  Across four days, this festival offers up live music from some of the best folk artists from Wales and beyond, sessions and dancing for the bank holiday weekend 1 – 4 May 2015.

Celebrations begin on the Friday night [1 May] with a folk music session at The Old Market Tavern in Cardiff City Centre.  Bring your instrument, grab yourself a drink, sit back and enjoy the music (free and open to all).

Saturday [2 May] sees the free performance stage get underway at Wales Millennium Centre with Welsh artists Gareth Bonello, Gwyneth Glyn, Richard James and the Rag Foundation.  Families can try their hand at making an instrument and join the dancing in the Twmpath Dawns (the Welsh equivalent of the Gaelic Ceilidh). A highlight for Sunday [3 May] will be Patagonian folk singer René Griffiths who showcases music from our South American compatriots, celebrating 150 years of the Welsh settlement across the Atlantic. Joining Rene will be Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog, Dylan Fowler, Edward Jay, Gwilym Bowen Rhys, Robin Huw Bowen and Triawd.

Amongst a packed weekend of free activities, workshops and performances, witness six of the finest young folk musicians from Wales and England come together to explore and celebrate the shared history and culture of the two nations inBeyond the Marches: The Folk Songs of Wales and England [Sunday 3 May]  at BBC Hoddinott Hall . A joint commission between trac: Music Traditions Wales and the English Folk Dance and Song Society, funded by PRSf, Beyond the Marches will feature Welsh artists Elan Rhys (from Plu), Patrick Rimes (from Calan) and Georgia Ruth Williams with rising English stars Archie Churchill-Moss, David Gibb and Lucy Ward. These six artists will collaborate on new interpretations of traditional music, woven together in their own unique styles.

In Wales, Calan Mai (or Calan Haf) is known as the first day of May. According to the Celtic calendar it is considered to be the start of summer and historically was an important time for celebration and festivities in Wales.

Ahead of Calan Mai, Wales Millennium Centre welcomes BBC Radio 2’s Folk Awards to Wales for the very first time. To mark this special event the Centre’s has teamed up with BBC Horizons to present some of the most exciting acts on the Welsh folk scene before and after the prestigious awards.

Calan Mai Folk Festival runs from 1-4 May 2015, with events at The Old Market Tavern, BBC Hoddinott Hall and Wales Millennium Centre. Calan Mai can be watched live online from 2-4 May via

Beyond the Marches: The Folk Songs of Wales and England is at the BBC Hoddinott Hall on Sunday 3 May 2015. Tickets £11.50 – £13.50. Age Guide: 5+ (No Under 2s).

Wales Millennium Centre and BBC Horizons present a program of free performances on the Glanfa Stage on 22 April as part of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

NEWS: @TheCentre #Cardiff Recipe from ffresh restaurant head chef featured in The Great British Cookbook

A recipe from ffresh restaurant’s head chef, Marc Corfield, has been included The Great British Cookbook alongside recipes from 200 of the UK’s finest chefs. The Great British Cookbook will be available for download from Friday 21 November, with proceeds from the cookbook going to Macmillan Cancer Support and Hospitality Action.

Marc Corfield, ffresh restaurant’s head chef, commented: ‘I’m delighted to be involved in The Great British Cookbook alongside so many respected chefs. I chose to contribute my recipe for Lamb Cawl, as it is such a traditional Welsh dish, and epitomises what ffresh does best – offering fine Welsh cuisine showcasing the best local, seasonal produce.

The Great British Cookbook will offer a culinary journey through 200 of the UK’s most prestigious pubs, guest houses, hotels, Michelin Star and AA Rosette restaurants; including Gidleigh Park in Devon, recently voted number one restaurant in the UK ‘The Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants’.

The 200 recipes included in the cookbook, all showcasing locally sourced produce, have been contributed by the UK’s top chefs, including high profile chefs such as Adam Simmonds, Michael Caines MBE, Rick Stein OBE, Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL, Anna Hansen MBE, Galton Blackiston, Richard Corrigan, Hayden Groves, Tony Singh and Nigella Lawson.

The Cookbook will be available to download from Friday 21 November at

A Download and Donate Day has been organised for Friday 19 December. To help raise awareness of the day, the public are invited to take part in The Great British Cookbook Thunderclap

NEWS: Wales Millennium Centre’s first full production – Ma Bili’n Bwrw’r Bronco goes on tour of Wales

Wales Millennium Centre is thrilled to announce its first national tour with a Welsh language production called Ma’ Bili’n Bwrw’r Bronco (Bili does a Bronco).  Opening in Cardiff on 31 July 2012, the show will then tour across Wales throughout August.

Ma Bili’n Bwrw’r Bronco is Wales Millennium Centre’s Welsh language production of Douglas Maxwell’s iconic piece – Decky Does a Bronco. Adapted by Jeremi Cockram, this site specific production, which takes place in a playground, was premiered by Grid Iron at the 2000 Edinburgh Festival and most recently completed a three month tour of Scotland and England in 2010.

For a nine year old lad, doing a bronco is the best feeling ever… You stand on a swing and work it up as high as you can, before kicking it up over the bar as you jump off.

Ma’ Bili’n Bwrw’r Bronco tells a powerful and vivid tale of childhood innocence and the perilous passage into adulthood. Set on a housing estate in the Swansea Valley, five boys spend the summer of 1983 acting out their dreams and fears in their local park. It’s a summer of play-fighting, Star Wars and their new obsession with bronco’ing, but when their playful banter and bickering is cut short by an unimaginable event, their lives are changed forever.

Conrad Lynch, Artistic Director at Wales Millennium Centre says: “The next phase in our development as a truly national centre for the performing arts is to produce our own work. In seven years the Centre has successfully established itself as a theatre which stages world class productions, by globally renowned producers, especially in the field of musical theatre and opera. As we mature our ambition is to produce and present new work, in both languages, to showcase the talent of Wales, as well as to continue to bring the best of the world to Wales. This production is our very first step towards realising that ambition, which makes it significant”.

He continues “We look forward to taking this production to audiences across Wales and I am very grateful to the Arts Council of Wales for supporting us to do so”.

Ma’ Bili’n Bwrw’r Bronco is directed by Geinor Styles, Artistic Director of Theatr na n’Óg whose recent credits include Salsa, Aesop Fables and You Should Ask Wallace, which will be performed in Singapore in 2013.

“To be such an integral part of Wales Millennium Centre’s first national tour is an exciting prospect to say the least, especially in light of the powerful and emotive nature of Ma’ Bili”n Bwrw’r Bronco. It is a privilege to be working with such a talented Welsh cast and crew on a play which will enthral audiences” says Geinor.

The original script Decky Does a Bronco written by Douglas Maxwell, was first created and performed by Scottish theatre company Grid Iron in 2000.  It became a massive hit at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe winning a Scotsman Fringe First Award. It went on to tour in both Scotland and England and was nominated for the TMA/Barclays award for Best Touring Production 2001.

Ma Bili’n Bwrw’r Bronco is written by Douglas Maxwell, adapted by Jeremi Cockram and directed by Geinor Styles.

Ma Bili’n Bwrw’r Bronco will be premiered in Cardiff from 31 July – 4 Aug 2012 at the The Marl, Grangetown, Cardiff, before performances at the National Eisteddfod, Ystradgynlais, Swansea, Clwyd, Caernarfon, Llanelli and Aberystwyth. Tickets range between £6 – £12.  To book tickets visit

Age guidance 11+

St Dwynwen’s Day – 25th January

St Dwynwen’s Day is celebrated in Wales on 25 January.  But who was St Dwynwen?


St Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers, which makes her the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine.

Dwynwen lived during the 5th century and was one of the prettiest of Brychan Brycheiniog’s 24 daughters. Dwynwen fell in love with a prince called Maelon Dafodrill, but unfortunately her father had already arranged that she should marry someone else.

Dwynwen was so upset that she could not marry Maelon that she begged God to make her forget him. After falling asleep, Dwynwen was visited by an angel, who appeared carrying a sweet potion designed to erase all memory of Maelon and turn him into a block of ice.

God then gave three wishes to Dwynwen. Her first wish was that Maelon be thawed; her second that God meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers; and third, that she should never marry. All three were fulfilled, and as a mark of her thanks, Dwynwen devoted herself to God’s service for the rest of her life.

She founded a convent on Llanddwyn, off the west coast of Anglesey, where a well named after

St Dwynwen

her became a place of pilgrimage after her death in 465AD. Visitors to the well believed that the sacred fish or eels that lived in the well could foretell whether or not their relationship would be happy and whether love and happiness would be theirs. Remains of Dwynwen’s church can still be seen today.

The popularity and celebration of St Dwynwen’s Day has increased considerably in recent years and in 2003 The Welsh Language Board had bi-lingual English-Welsh cards printed which were distributed by Tesco stores throughout Wales.

Extras from Wikipedia

Version 1

This version of the story is generally told to older children, usually in secondary school. It is generally considered the most appropriate for children.

Dwynwen was the beautiful daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog, who was said to have had eleven sons and twenty-four daughters (although these figures vary greatly, to the extent of suggesting he had over fifty children). She met and fell madly in love with a man called Maelon, and he reciprocated her feelings. She asked her father if she could marry Maelon, but Brychan disliked Maelon and refused to give his permission. Maelon begged, as did Dwynwen, but Brychan would not relent and Maelon was forced to leave. Dwynwen was so upset that she ran into the forest. There, she met an angel in a real life who granted her the position of the Saint of romance.

Version 2

Dwynwen met a man named Maelon, and they fell in love. However Dwynwen disliked Maelon’s attitude towards sleeping together, as she wished to keep her virtue until after marriage but he wanted them to sleep together. She told him this, but this enraged Maelon so much that he attacked and sex her. Dwynwen fled to the woods, distraught. There an angel gave her a magic potion that cooled her love for Maelon (it in fact cooled it too much, as he was turned into a block of ice). It also gave her three wishes. Dwynwen wished that she would never marry, and that she would become the patron saint of lovers to console others through sadness and love. She used the last wish (although some sources say this was her first) to get Maelon unfrozen.

Version 3

Dwynwen fell in love with a prince called Maelon Dafodrill, but unfortunately her father had already arranged that she should marry someone else. Dwynwen was so upset that she could not marry Maelon that she begged God to make her forget him. After falling asleep, Dwynwen was visited by an angel, who appeared carrying a sweet potion designed to erase all memory of Maelon and turn him into a block of ice. God then gave three wishes to Dwynwen. Her first wish was that Maelon be thawed; her second that God meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers; and third, that she should never marry.

St David’s Day – The only Saint in the Village? :)

St David’s Day is celebrated in Wales on 1 March, in honour of Dewi Sant or St David, the patron saint of Wales. Little is known about him for certain. What little information we have is based on an account of his life written by Rhigyfarch towards the end of the 11th century.

According to this Latin manuscript, Dewi died in the year 589. His mother was called Non, and his father, Sant, was the son of Ceredig, King of Ceredigion. After being educated in Cardiganshire, he went on pilgrimage through south Wales and the west of England, where it is said that he founded religious centres such as Glastonbury and Croyland. He even went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he was made archbishop.

He eventually settled at Glyn Rhosyn (St David’s), in south-west Wales, where he established a very strict ascetic religious community. Many miracles have been attributed to him, the most incredible of which was performed when he was preaching at the Synod of Llanddewibrefi – he caused the ground to rise underneath him so that he could be seen and heard by all. How much truth is in this account of his life by Rhigyfarch is hard to tell. It must be considered that Rhigyfarch was the son of the Bishop of St David’s, and that the Life was written as propaganda to establish Dewi’s superiority and defend the bishopric from being taken over by Canterbury and the Normans.

From the 12th century onwards, Dewi’s fame spread throughout South Wales and as far as Ireland and Brittany. St David’s Cathedral became a popular centre of pilgrimage, particularly after Dewi was officially recognised as a Catholic saint in 1120. From this period on, he was frequently referred to in the work of medieval Welsh poets such as Iolo Goch and Lewys Glyn Cothi. In 1398, it was ordained that his feast-day was to be kept by every church in the Province of Canterbury. Though the feast of Dewi as a religious festival came to an end with the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, the day of his birth became a national festival during the18th century.

Now March 1 is celebrated by schools and cultural societies throughout Wales. It is the custom on that day to wear either a leek or a daffodil – two of our national emblems – and for young girls to wear the national costume.

What does the flag of St David look like?

St David's

Who was St David?

St David (Dewi Sant was a Celtic monk, abbot and bishop, who lived in the sixth century. He spread the word of Christianity across Wales.

The most famous story about Saint David tells how he was preaching to a huge crowd and the ground is said to have risen up, so that he was standing on a hill and everyone had a better chance of hearing him.

What is the national emblems of Wales?

daffodilThe national emblems of Wales are daffodils and leeks.

St David’s Day is commemorated by the wearing of daffodils or leeks. Both plants are traditionally regarded as national emblems.

The Leek

leeksThere are many explanations of how the leek came to be adopted as the national emblem of Wales. One is that St David advised the Welsh, on the eve of battle with the Saxons, to wear leeks in their caps to distinguish friend from the enemy. Shakespeare mentions in Henry V, that the Welsh archers wore leeks at the battle of Agincourt in 1415.

What is Wales’ National Dress?

On St David’s Day, some children in Wales dress in their national costume, which consists of a tall black hat, white frilled cap and long dress. The national flag of Wales, depicting a fiery red dragon (Y Ddraig Goch) against a green and white background, is also flown.

What is the National Flag of Wales?

Flag of Wales
Flag of Wales

Dewi Sant – St. David was born towards the end of the fifth century, less than a hundred years after the last Roman legions had marched out of Wales. He was a scion of the royal house of Ceredigion, his mother was Non, daughter of Cynyr of Caio, remembered by numerous churches and holy wells in Wales, Cornwall and Brittany. Educated at Henfynyw (Old Menevia) in Ceredigion, where he ‘learned the alphabet, the psalms, the lessons for the whole year, the Masses and the Synaxis’, he founded a Celtic monastic community at Glyn Rhosin (The Vale of Roses) on the western headland of Sir Benfro, at the spot where St. David’s Cathedral stands today. The spot may well have been the site of a very early religious community, for it is also associated with St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, who may have been born in Wales and is said to have spent time at Glyn Rhosyn before embarking again (this time voluntarily) for Ireland from Porth Mawr nearby.

David’s fame as a teacher and ascetic spread throughout the Celtic world. He earned the curious nickname Dewi Ddyfrwr – David the Waterman – no doubt reflecting the harsh bread-and-water regime of Celtic monks. Many traditions and legends are associated with him. When he rose to address to a great crowd at a synod at Llanddewi Brefi in Ceredigion, the ground rose under his feet forming a little hill so that all could hear him speak. Again, a golden-beaked dove is said to have landed on his shoulder as a symbol of his holiness.

His foundation at Glyn Rhosin became one of the most important shrines of the Christian world, and the most important centre in Wales. Roads and tracks from all over the nation led to it and in the Middle Ages two pilgrimages to Menevia was equal to one to Rome (Dos i Rufain unwaith, ac i Fynyw ddwywaith – Go to Rome once, and come to Monmouth twice). Over fifty churches and innumerable holy wells were dedicated to him in Wales alone.

The religious centre of St David’s thus became a focus for the religious aspirations of the Welsh nation and as Gerallt Cymro (Giraldus Cambrensis) relates: The Bishopric of St Davids became … a symbol of the independence of Wales … and that is why David himself was exalted into a Patron Saint of Wales.

The date of Dewi Sant’s death is recorded as March 1st, but the year is uncertain – possibly 588. As his tearful monks prepared for his death St David uttered these words: ‘Brothers be ye constant. The yoke which with single mind ye have taken, bear ye to the end; and whatsoever ye have seen with me and heard, keep and fulfil’ and as he died ‘Lords, brothers and sisters, be cheerful, keep the faith, and do those little things which ye have seen me do and heard me say.’