Monday, 17 November 2014

Things to do in Cardiff- The Theatre Edition

It has to be said, one of the things I looked forward to most when we decided to move back to South Wales was the variety of theatres which would be on our doorstep.

Cardiff boasts some of the most fantastic theatre space and as a result, whichever day of the week you choose there is always a production worth taking in.

One theatre which has transformed the Cardiff skyline during my 13 year exile is the Wales Millennium Centre.
Located in Cardiff Bay, the first phase was opened in 2004. For my children, the building resembles a tortoise, the copper oxide of the dome is easily spotted on our travels.
They have loved seeing more mainstream productions (The Gruffalo and Mickey's Magic Show) in the Donald Gordon Theatre as well as theatre which makes great use of the space in the Weston Studio (Roald Dahl's "Little Red Riding Hood and Captain Flynn & The Pirate Dinosaurs).
For 'grown ups' the theatre space has so much to offer, successfully bringing the West End and Fringe theatre to South Wales.
And, if you do get the chance, and you're a theatre, design or cultural geek, the tour of the Centre is definitely an opportunity to explore a fantastic space, and understand and appreciate the design and features of a theatre- both for theatrical excellence and appreciation of the local landscape.
A theatre in the heart of Cardiff, and home to great drama as well as home to the Capital's Christmas Pantomime is the New Theatre. The theatre celebrated its Centenary in 2006, and truly is the gem of a great City. Memories of seeing the ballet there as a child are held close.
The theatre now plays host to a wealth of productions to introduce young people to the theatre (The Octonauts, We're Going On A Bear Hunt and James & The Giant Peach).
For adults, the theatre hosts both fantastic local companies as well as touring productions.

St David's Hall is the National Concert Hall and Conference Centre of Wales.
From ballet and opera to Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom St David's caters for all audiences, with a wide music offering. Attached to one of the main shopping centres, St David's Hall is a convenient location for matinees and evening performances. Its diversity holds a place in my heart, I have performed at the Hall both as part of a Rock School and alongside a Male Voice Choir, as well as my graduation ceremony- a few years later.
Another theatre space of my youth is Chapter Arts Centre. Located in Canton, on the outskirts of Cardiff, it is not as convenient a location by public transport, but definitely worth the visit. In my youth Chapter introduced me to contemporary dance, and continues to do so. Chapter not only has a great theatre space but also hosts a cinema offering (including NT:Live) and is always a hub of creativity with a fantastic caffi-bar.

I have, of course, left the best 'til last. Predominantly based on childhood allegiance, and also because it is the most recent theatre space in Cardiff to have benefitted from a refurbishment.
Sherman Cymru is within walking distance of the City Centre, adjacent to the Civic Centre, and the homeland of student life.
As a child I enjoyed the contemporary dance extended from Chapter, in 1994 as part of South Glamorgan's Youth Theatre I was able to perform in the Studio and fall a little bit in love, as a university student I was able to enjoy the proximity and the diversity offered.
And since returning to Cardiff, I have been able to appreciate it's new found place, fortunately it still offers diversity- comedy, music and drama are instinctively home at the Sherman.
And then, returning home as a mum, I have loved the theatre available, off the tv-converted track, which hypnotises my children (Corina Pavlova & the Lion's Roar and The Sleeping Beauties) which can take child and adult alike on an adventure.

If you're visiting the City, definitely find out which is your nearest theatre and what's on. For me, there is nothing more therapeutic that the tones of the Welsh accent on stage, but whether it be local or national productions, the stages in Cardiff more than create a fantastic experience.

If you're visiting Cardiff and looking to create an evening out, I would recommend The Millenium Centre and all Cardiff Bay has to offer in terms of bars and restaurants.
For creating a day of it, shopping excellence and theatre, the New Theatre is a great theatre to appreciate the best of the City's culture.
And if you're planning in advance, take in Sherman Cymru, and all that accessible theatre offers.

But without doubt, visit a theatre in Cardiff, and enjoy a little bit of our heritage.

Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with The Millennium Hotels Group. All views and opinions contained are our own.

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