In April 2015, following six years of working together on successive tours of Hunting the Giant’s Daughter, Adverse Camber was delighted to begin work with Michael, Lynne and Stacey and Director and Adverse Camber Artistic Advisor Paula Crutchlow on a new show, drawing from the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi as source material.
Felin Uchaf, a visionary social enterprise and one of Adverse Camber’s Welsh partners, was awarded an Arts Council Wales grant to partner with the company on an early Research and Development phase of the project. The Llŷn Peninsula is close to a number of sites where the action of the story was said to take place.
Through a week of intensive work, the team explored story and music, and the landscape associated with the story.
We also met and shared stories and music with some of the people working at Felin Uchaf, from the ship restorers, to volunteers tilling the community gardens and young builders utilising traditional building skills across the site.
As well as using translations of the source texts, this week also drew inspiration from the live telling of all four branches of the Mabinogi, at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, in March 2015. This amazing weekend of Mabinogi related stories, music, academic talks and live artworks, curated by artist and storyteller Peter Stevenson, involved many Wales based artists, including Maria Hayes, Dafydd Davies-Hughes and Professor Sioned Davies, all of whom are also involved in the R&D stage of this new piece.
Gathering the rich materials of this week and subsequent workshops together, the team planned out an exciting creative process, working alongside venues and audiences in the creation of a new show.
Following successful fundraising with Felin Uchaf and Cardiff University School of Welsh with partnership support from Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Beyond the Border International Storytelling Festival and the support of many organisations and partners in Wales and England, creative work continued on the new piece through 2016 into 2017, including:
- a residency weekend at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, including a short sharing and Q&A
- design development in Cardiff, integrating wood-based sculptural elements into the performance
- a first performance of the whole story at Beyond the Border International Storytelling Festival
- a residency weekend at Felin Uchaf, exploring participation, engagement and potential digital outcomes with further site visits to story locations
- a work in progress sharing of a Welsh language version of the performance with invited audiences including students from School of Welsh at Cardiff University
The arts centre premiere of the performance took place at Aberystwyth Arts Centre in March, 2017, a great success as part of Pumed Gainc The Fifth Branch, Aberystwyth’s Storytelling Festival and plans continued on towards further touring of the show in Autumn 2017 with future plans also underway.