theatre, Things To Do

Sci-Fi Treasure Hunting in Blackwood – Project: Oggbots

Today, I went hunting for a professor and a crazy artist while dodging shady agents on the streets of Blackwood on a mission to save some aliens.

True story. I took my nine and five year olds to help with the mission. They flipping loved it. They’ve seen more theatre than most kids could shake a stick at but this interactive intergalactic family adventure made a huge impression on them.

We started in the library, getting the back story and some essential training in observation and evasion tactics. Over an hour later we were working on circuit boards in a secret location. The boys were thrilled with the extra-terrestrials and electronics..

“I hope we get to go to another one like that soon!” – the nine year old said at bedtime.

Project: Oggbots is a show for 7-11 year olds by Root Experience. It’s only on for one more day but with plenty of times to choose from. Book your tickets with Blackwood Miners’ Institute:  Blackwood Miners’ Institute website or go old school and phone the box office 01495 227 206.

theatre, Things To Do

Romeo and Juliet: Shakespeare and circus skills

If your idea of taking your children to see a Shakespeare play is a hellish few hours of numb bums and boredom then let the latest offering from Omidaze Productions change your mind.

We all know the Romeo and Juliet story. I had a mild obsession with the Baz Luhrmann film in my teens (still my top soundtrack album), my kids are more familiar with Gnomeo and Juliet and if you’ve never seen West Side Story where’ve you been?! It’s the perfect gateway play into the world of the Bard.

With a young and diverse cast of actors, this version from director Yvonne Murphy goes a step further in shaking up Shakespeare. Aerial circus skills add excitement to the experience with Lady Capulet elegantly twisting on silks and Romeo’s mates throwing banter around on swinging hoops. The audience don’t sit behind an invisible fourth wall but walk, sit and perch amongst the action, getting up close and personal with each scene.

This show is recommended for ages 7 and up. My eight year old is really looking forward to it. I take him to a lot of theatre (the perks of a mum working in the arts) but he’s never seen anything quite like this before. Family friendly theatre doesn’t have to mean puppetry and slapstick (don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of both) so give it a go and take your tribe.

Romeo and Juliet has been co-produced by Omidaze Productions with Wales Millennium  Centre and after touring Mod, Llanelli and Brecon they’ll be back in Cardiff on 27th April – 14th May. Get your tickets sharpish because they’ve a tendency to sell out. Tickets and details: Romeo and Juliet

ACCESS INFO: There’s captioning at each show and BSL interpretation on Thursday 11th May at Wales Millennium Centre by Sami Thorpe. There’s also a tactile model and a touch tour for blind and visually impaired audience members as well as audio description on Thursday 11th May 7pm and Saturday 13th May 2pm at Wales Millennium Centre by Alistair Sill.

Photography by Kirsten McTernan

theatre, Things To Do

Jason and the Argonauts – the ultimate hero quest comes to Cardiff

If your children are anything like mine they’ll be superhero obsessed. Superhero birthday parties, superhero bedroom and errant superhero figures down the side of the sofa.

Centuries before the Marvel universe was even a glint in Stan Lee’s eye, the ancient Greeks were telling stories of heroes with superpowers that would make Iron Man turn as green as the Hulk with envy.

Remember the iconic 1963 film of Jason and the Argonauts? No, I’m not old enough to have seen it then but my dad was a fan so I’ve seen it a good few times. Jason is an ordinary man in an extraordinary world of gods and monsters. He and his mighty Argonauts set off on an epic quest for the Golden Fleece. Adventures follow.

A family friendly stage version of Jason and the Argonauts has been touring Wales and is in Cardiff at Wales Millennium Centre (in the Weston Studio) this Easter weekend on Friday 14th April 7:30pm and Saturday 15th April 2:30pm and 7:30pm. Book online: Jason and the Argonauts tickets

From what the writer of this production, Mark Williams says, it sounds right up my son’s (and my brothers’) street: “We’ve drawn together a range of influences, from 1980s animation theme tunes and the soundtracks of Wes Anderson, to the fantasy films of Jim Henson, by way of the deck of the USS Enterprise and the Doctor’s TARDIS.”

The Argo could as easily be a spaceship as a seafaring ship. Is it a long time ago? Is it a galaxy far, far away? Is this production based on all of my dad’s favourite things (I lie, it’s missing cowboys)?

There’s only one way to find out. I’ve booked my tickets, get a shifty on and book yours. To the quest!

Jason and the Argonauts is a Blackwood Miners’ Institute/RCT Theatres Co-Production on tour across Wales throughout April. A full tour schedule can be found at www.jasonandtheargonauts.co.uk.

Argo Image 006 portrait text

Things To Do

You’ve Got Dragons by Taking Flight Theatre Company: a theatre show for everyone

You’ve Got Dragons has been touring Wales for a while now and still has a fair few left so if you haven’t caught it yet, do take your kids (and the grandparents and some friends and anyone else you can work your charms or magic on) along.

You’ve Got Dragons is based on the book by Kathryn Cave and is a delightful tale about a child’s journey to come to terms with inner dragons. Worries, fears, anxieties… they’re all dragons and they sneak up on most of us at one time or another. Lots of people get them. Even really good people get them. And sometimes they are hard to get rid of. So what can a young girl with a bad case of the dragons do?

One of my children has anxiety and I know what an impact it can have. This show is an ideal way to look at the issue with a creative eye. It’s also a lovely, Wales made family friendly show. I’ll be taking my brood along this Easter holidays, having been lucky enough to catch it with my working-in-theatre hat on.

The show is fully accessible and intergenerational featuring creative captioning, BSL and audio description at every performance. Taking Flight Theatre Company have been at the forefront of making theatre more accessible for everyone in Wales and You’ve Got Dragons is no exception. Taking Flight have been brilliant at working with blind, visually impaired, deaf and hard of hearing people on developing theatre that includes everyone. They’ve got a captioned BSL flyer and an audio flyer all about the show over on their website: Taking Flight.

All of the remaining Wales theatres are members of the hynt scheme so if any of your family need a carer when they go to the theatre they can apply for membership and get a ticket free of charge for their carer, companion or Personal Assistant. More info on hynt on their website: hynt

With toe tapping music, this highly visual, sensitive production is a humorous and touching exploration of the dragons we all face.

“Dragons come when you least expect it. You turn round… and they’re there.”

TOUR DATES (if you click on the venue name you’ll be taken to their website where you can book tickets ’cause I’m nice like that!)

The Torch Theatre, Milford Haven – Wednesday 12th April 1pm and 3pm

Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff – Thursday 13th April 6:30pm / Friday 14th April 6:30pm / Saturday 15th April 2pm and 5pm

Wise Words Festival, Canterbury – Monday 1st May

Newbridge Memo – Saturday 20th May 2pm (Relaxed Performance)

Park & Dare, Treorchy – Wednesday 24th May 1pm

Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon – Saturday 27th May 11am and 2pm

The Mission Theatre, Bath – Sunday 28th May 1:30pm and 3:30pm

also…

FREE WORKSHOPS at Chapter Arts Centre before the show – Thursday 13th April 5pm, Saturday 15th April 12.30pm & 3.30pm

Join them before the show in the theatre foyer to make tactile model houses which even light up! Or you can make a shadow puppet and test it out on their mini shadow screens. All for free with your ticket to the performance.

Accessible to all- this activity will be BSL supported and audio described. 

 

You’ve Got Dragons is a co-production with Abertillery Met and Creu Cymru.

Things To Do

Free Family Dance Festival (yes, FREE!) this Easter Holidays

This weekend I ended up at Chapter with my boys (Chalk age 8 and Cheese age 4) and my nephew who we shall call (for reasons unbeknownst to you) Ross age 2.

We stumbled across a FREE (yes I do mean to shout that word) new dance event for families that’s touring Wales during the Easter holidays. Chapter’s Coreo Cymru programme and National Dance Company Wales have picked four delicious short dance pieces by four very talented dance companies.

Animatorium by National Dance Company Wales premiered at Green Man festival in 2016. This incredibly skilled group of dancers kept all three boys rapt and asking questions “why are they on the floor?” “is he eating his jumper?” “what do the tags on their jackets mean?”

Bounce by Harnisch-Lacey Dance is a high energy mix of breakdance, acrobatics and contemporary dance that had my 8 year old gymnast saying “wooooah” and prompted a chat about climate change and global warming on our walk back to the car.

Into the Water by Up & Over It mesmerised my 4 year old, so much so that he wriggled his way to the front and sat watching it on his own cross legged. “that was amazing, how did they do that with their hands?!” It was a really sweet piece with amazing hand dancing. You might have seen them on Britain’s Got Talent or YouTube (if you engage with either – I don’t really so hadn’t seen them before).

Homo Irrationalis by Karol Cysewski was very funny and a big hit with the boys. The 4 year old has been muttering “stupid behaviour” daily since we saw it. Three hilarious male dancers took us on a journey through evolution. The boys enjoyed trying to guess which creatures they were at different points.

As a bonus we got to join in with a ceilidh at the end of the show led by Up & Over It. I know it’s some people’s idea of hell but for me it’s the ultimate in family-friendly-join-in-if-you-fancy activities. The 4 year old and I threw ourselves about with gusto (that Gusto, he’s always one for a knees up) while the less keen 8 year old guarded the 2 year old.

It was a gloriously sunshiney day for the first ever Family Dance Festival and as it’s part of a tour you can still catch it across Wales. For my fellow Vale of Glamorganers it’ll be back in our neck of the woods at the end of the Easter hols in the Bay. A good excuse for a stroll across the barrage and some free (yes, FREE!) dance.

Chapter, Cardiff – Friday 7th April 4pm and 6pm / Saturday 8th April 12pm, 3pm and 5pm

Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon – Sunday 9th April 3pm and 5pm / Monday 10th April 12pm and 3pm

The Hafren, Newtown – Tuesday 11th April 3pm and 5pm / Wednesday 12th April 12pm and 3pm

Riverfront, Newport – Tuesday 18th April 3pm and 5pm / Wednesday 19th 12pm and 3pm

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff – Friday 21st April 3pm and 5pm / Saturday 22nd April 12pm and 3pm

 

 

 

 

Places To Go, Things To Do

February Half Term

Half Term is almost upon us. Oh joy. I’ll be working for most of it *gets out tiny violin* but if I weren’t singing for my supper and palming my kids off on grandparents we’d be spoilt for choice with things to do and places to go.

Barry

Memo Arts Centre, Barry / Cinememo / £3 – £3.50

The Memo have family screenings all week including Moana and Sing. They’ve got a Relaxed screening on Thursday 23rd February at 11am. “Relaxed” means these are designed to welcome people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, sensory or communication disorders or learning disabilities.

Memo Arts Centre

Barry Library / Code Club / Ages 9-11 / Free

Friday 24th February. 4pm – 5pm.

As usual, our Vale libraries have plenty of things going on including Code Club. Booking is essential so drop in or give them a call on 01446 422425. If your child has an idea for a game or an app but doesn’t know where to start then get them to go along and learn to code. While they’re in there you could browse the shelves or check out the Holocaust Memorial Day Exhibition in the Art Central Gallery. Or if you’re feeling less cultured, escape the building, pick up a few bargains at the shops and maybe a cheeky steak bake.

Barry Library on Facebook

Communities First, Barry / Free

If you live in a Communities First area in Barry take a peak at their facebook page for details of activities going on.

Barry Communities First on Facebook

Penarth

Penarth Pier Pavilion / Space Day / Ages 4-11

A day of fascinating facts, brilliant experiments and out of this world activities for future astronauts and their families. The Planetarium and Mad Science Show sound awesome.

Penarth Pavilion

 

Cardiff

National Dance Company Wales at the Dance House, Wales Millennium Centre / Dance Days / Ages 7-18 / £15

Monday 20th February. 10am – 1pm (age 7-11) and 2pm – 6pm (12+)

My 8 year old has joined in with a couple of these and had a whale of a time. It’s basically a taster day for any level of dance experience.

NDCWales Dance Days

If you have a child doing Dance Days but spare children left over you can either blow away the cobwebs with a stroll across the barrage or head around the corner to…

Wales Millennium Centre in the Glanfa Foyer / Create a Paper Garden / All ages / FREE! (just turn up on the day)

Monday 20th – Saturday 25th February. 11am – 4pm.

Sounds similar to days we’ve spent building model houses, gardens and shops in the huge foyer space in Wales Millennium Centre. Go along and help transform the Centre into a beautiful garden made from paper. It’s free (huzzah!) and indoors.

Wales Millennium Centre – Paper Garden

St Fagans National History Museum / Childhood themed Half Term Activities / Free – £2

Saturday 18th – Sunday 26th February. 12noon – 4pm.

An obligatory half term day out for me when I was growing up, I take my tribe for school holiday adventures. It’s free to get in, £5 for parking and we usually take a picnic and a flask to keep the costs down. Their extra activities (Make a Toy Craft Sessions, Playtime Toy Sessions and Victorian Childhood Guided Tours) this half term range from free to £2. Check their website for details of what’s on which day.

St Fagans Half Term Activities

Bute Park Education Centre / Frog Themed Sessions / Age 3+ / Free

Tuesday 21st and Thursday 23rd February. 10:30am, 11:30am and 1:30pm

Remember Barry the Frog? He was one of the unusual animals on the Castle walls during City of the Unexpected in the summer. You can take a selfie with him in Bute Park this half term and do some frog related model making, crafting, games and stories. You’ll need to accompany your child and all wear wellies. What’s not to love?! It’s free and froggy.

Bute Park Fun with Barry the Frog

 

There are many parks and beaches in the Vale and beyond to explore for free but that’s a whole other post!

Let me know about anything I’ve missed out and I’ll try to shoehorn it in somehow.

My young humans would quite happily while away the whole week playing minecraft, building lego masterpieces or “decorating” everything in washi tape but I will drag them out by hook or by crook (when I’m not bringing home the bacon).