Reviews

publication/writer
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Not really a review, but a lovely letter from someone we met at Monaco

As one of the UK delegates at Monaco, May I say how well the Unknown Theatre company represented Royaume Uni.  After the performance delegates from other countries came up and said how delightful, how natural and how honest the performances and production had been and that it demonstrated so perfectly the talents of the young people. They had clearly enjoyed it very much.

Can I also say that in the evening when I introduced one or two of the young people to other delegates they were articulate and enthusiastic about their experiences and the work of The Unknown Theatre Company and were excellent ambassadors for the UK, and of course for Wales.

They performed so well, informally, in the evening and handing out the flags was an excellent idea. I hope they have made a lot of friends in different parts of the world that these links will be strengthened and built on. I see from your web site that you have already had an exchange with a Japanese company so you are already doing excellent work in this area.

I also see that you are NODA members and, although Mark Pemberton (Chairman of NODA and another UK delegate) could not stay for your performance, I know he would have been very proud that a member of NODA performed so well.

Best wishes for the future.
Anne Gilmour    Chairman, LTG


Awards

given by
to whom
for what
Glamorgan Drama League Glammies 2006 Justine Mead as Soulcatcher Shortlisted for Best Actress in a Musical
Glamorgan Drama League Glammies 2006

Giorgia Warsama as Guinevere

Nominated for Best Actress in a Musical
Glamorgan Drama League Glammies 2006 James Costas-Michael : Druswyn (Dance of the Dragon) Nominated for Best Actor in a Musical
Glamorgan Drama League Glammies 2006 the show Shortlisted for Best Youth Musical


And more...    

Jenny Donoghue, one
of the cast members,
tells it how it was..... 

As the coach descended the twisting mountain roads that lead into Monaco, we jumped up in excitement, pressing our faces to the windows to marvel at the panoramic views of the decadent principality. Our driver was kind enough to take us "the long way round" to our hotel, allowing us to pass, amongst other things, The Casino de Monte Carlo, The Hotel de Paris, and the yacht-filled ports. Not to mention an excess of red Ferraris and yellow Lambourghinis (which we soon realised were "the Ford Fiestas of Monaco") Gasping in awe, jumping and squealing in excitement, we decided that the trip would be an experience we would never forget.

The following morning we left our chic hotel, The Columbus, to walk to a Welcome Reception at the Festival Village. Unfortunately, the streets of Monaco proved more difficult than expected to navigate, and we ended up arriving at the event somewhat "en retard". Nevertheless, we received a warm welcome from our lovely guide Brigitte and Bernard. This was followed by a group photoshoot, drinks and canapes on the outside balcony overlooking the Port de Fontvielle and the Route of the Grand Prix.

Our performance was scheduled for Thursday 4th, so we had several days free to explore Monaco, watch performances by other countries, attend cultural evenings at the Festival Club, and participate in workshops. Of these, I particularly enjoyed a Stanislavski workshop conducted by Russian professor, an excellent performance bursting with energy by the Japanese troupe, and the cultural night hosted by the Germans, during which we made many friends, including a very funny Icelandic guy!

On the morning of the 4th, we attended a rehearsal at the theatre, which was extremely chaotic for Vic, Lucy, Ben and the Monagasgue technicians, who had great difficulty setting up our lighting - which wasn't helped by the fact that they hardly spoke a word of English! As a result, we were scarcely able to perform the first number (Prologue) before we were being ushered out to make room for the next group's rehearsal. Consequently, we all felt nervous that night as the tension mounted, and the curtain rose to a full auditorium. Thankfully, the nerves provided the best shot of adrenaline we could have asked for, and we gave what many said was the best performance we ever have of the show! At the curtain call, we couldn't keep the grins from our faces as the whole house jumped to their feet, cheering, in a standing ovation. The feeling of euphoria was incredible, moving many of us to tears, and making everyone extremely happy and proud!

We received lots of excellent feedback, with one Swedish woman calling us "the highlight of the festival", and the reviews the next morning in the festival magazine saying "thank you for this hour of magic!" Furthermore, we are keeping our fingers crossed for opportunities that may have opened up, after being invited to perform at a festival in Avignon, and forging links for exchanges in Texas and Belgium.

We enjoyed similar success with our Friday performance, and had a lot of fun hosting our Welsh cultural evening at the club, with traditional Welsh songs, and free welsh cakes for everyone! And of course we lead the crowd in a round of "ogi ogi ogi, oi oi oi".

After an absolutely fantastic week, we were very sad to leave! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this once-in-a-lifetime experience, from the luxurious setting of Monaco, to the fascinating experience of making friends and learning about other cultures. But most of all the thrill of performing to a global audience, who seemed to really enjoy our performance - almost as much as we enjoyed performing!

And the adult perspective... It all began last summer, when Jane Donoghue, The Unknown Theatre Company’s Producer, was flicking though DAWN - the magazine of the Drama Association of Wales. "Entries invited for Mondial du Theatre", it read. A world festival of amateur theatre, which takes place every four years, 24 countries selected from around world each performing for one hour, together with a cultural evening where their country is promoted.

Always on the lookout for new and exciting projects that our young people can get involved in, Jane decided to investigate. After initial discussions and form filling, it became a waiting game as we wondered whether we would be selected… Would the company be suitable for the project? Would a youth group be accepted? Would we be able financially to undertake such a project? It was December before we received final confirmation that the Monaco committee was happy with the UK choice - Dance of the Dragon (Philip Michell & Matthew Brind), a musical commissioned in 2000 as part of the Millennium Celebrations.

Then it truly began! Hundreds of telephone calls were made and letters sent to companies trying to find sponsorship, either financially or through offers of Welsh produce for use in the cultural evening. Numerous grant applications were completed - no easy task when you consider that each one was pages long and had all kinds of supplementary forms. Despite the prestige of the project, we gradually came to the conclusion that there would be very little financial help from either governmental bodies or businesses.

We then set out to raise the money ourselves. What followed was a whole company effort with a common goal. Bag-packing sessions at local supermarket, quiz night, raffle, summer fayre, garden party, auction, concert, and even singing on the streets with a bucket in hand all helped to soften the blow for the parents of the 19 young performers.

Arriving in Monaco, we were overwhelmed by the heat. The first few days passed leisurely. After the initial welcoming meeting with our hostess, we explored the festival village and a few of our young people signed up for one of the three workshops on offer. The rest headed off to the hotel pool. We managed to negotiate the use of a conference room at the hotel where we held rehearsals, but apart from that it was very easy to think we were on holiday. We went sightseeing, ate, swam, ate some more and rounded off the evening watching performances from other countries or living it up at the festival bar.

Then the day dawned. It was our turn to perform. Panic set in when arriving at the theatre there were communication difficulties and the time taken to set all the lights and effects cues prevented us having a run-through on stage. Not deterred, our young people rose to the occasion. They performed to near perfection (well, Jane says that while she can always spot what is not quite right, luckily the audience didn’t). We were overjoyed at the full house of people and the standing ovation that was given to our youngsters.

The relief we all felt afterwards was immeasurable. We had come, we had seen and we had conquered not only the people of Monaco, but also the representative countries from around the world. The closing night came far too quickly and was amazing, allowing everyone to say their last goodbyes and make promises to keep in touch.

The highlight of the project? The pride we all felt in our production and the talents of the young people. The downside? Almost forgotten now… but have you ever tried to chaperone 19 lively youngsters?!

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About the show  
Dates Cardiff - 26 June 2005
Monaco - 4 & 5 August 2005    
Venue Cardiff - The Weston Studio, Wales Millennium Centre
Monaco - Theatre des Varietes
Director Vic Atkins
Choreographer Vic Atkins
Musical director Ben Davies
Producer Jane Donoghue
Special facts

The Unknown Theatre Company was one of the first amateur companies to perform at the Wales Millennium Centre and the first Youth Company to represent Wales/UK at the World Festival of Amateur Theatre in Monaco.

For more personal memories of the experiences, see the "And More" section at the end of this page. 

This is the gallery of photos from rehearsals and our various fundraising activities...

Photos from the show

Click here to go to the gallery of photos from the production in Monaco...

 

 

 

 

 

The unknown Theatre Company
Cardiff's leading musical youth theatre /young people's theatre group

 

Dance of the Dragon - 2005 -
Cardiff and Monaco

only search www.unknowntheatre.co.uk

a dragon watches a group of children climbing a hill.  the image of the show.     the logo for the World Festival of Amateur Theatre

Updated
21 February 2016

© The Unknown
Theatre Company



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