‘Aberlliw’ team brings magical new adventure to Bryngarw Country Park in time for half term
The contents of an ancient Welsh book of incantations and its legendary owner have inspired the latest work by award nominated theatre collaborators.
With Halloween and half term on the horizon, the two theatre companies have created an accessible outdoor adventure in English and BSL.
The Conjurer of Cwrtycadno follows the teams’ nomination for a ‘Fantastic for Families Award’ for their last collaboration, The Curious Case of Aberlliw, and comes hot on the heels of Taking Flight’s recent production of Road.
The original book of incantations belonged to John Harries (Shon Harri Shon) of Pantcoy, Cwrtycadno, in Carmarthenshire, who was an astrologer, surgeon, medical practitioner and wise man of some renown.
The manuscript is held in the National Library of Wales and legend has it that he kept one of his books “padlocked and hidden away, and only dared open it once a year in a nearby secluded wood where he would read various incantations from it to summon forth spirits.”
According to the NLW website, once opened the book would ‘create a very severe storm’ leading to the notion that the Harries family acquired their powers and skills from within its covers.
Using this rich inspiration, writer Barra Collins said that they developed the new piece which sees the conjurer’s great, great, great, great granddaughter Heledd in a bit of a pickle having found the book and caused all the fairies in Wales to lose their memories.
Barra said: “Part theatre show and part treasure hunt, The Conjurer of Cwrtycadno asks families for their help in getting the fairies back to their homes in time for Halloween, thus averting disaster come Springtime. We’ve had a lot of fun developing the piece and really hope that it will bring families some joy this autumn”.
Digital twists & turns
Elise Davison, Artistic Director of Taking Flight explains that the companies obtained further funding to create another accessible trail from Bridgend County Council Social Recovery Fund based on the success of ‘Aberlliw’
They developed the ‘Department of Strange Events’ as a concept for creating outdoor Covid-safe adventures for families with ‘digital twists and turns.’
Their first such event, The Curious Case of Aberlliw, was a site-specific adventure trail which took participants around accessible wide-open spaces while social distancing restrictions still applied, using an interactive app to set challenges for family groups.
As restrictions were lifted, live action sequences involving actors were incorporated into the second season of the production, and it was nominated this year for the Best Family Activity Category in the prestigious Fantastic for Families Awards. Winners will be announced on 16 November 2022 in the free online awards ceremony.
Elise Davison said: “In the spirit of the ‘Department of Strange Events’, we really wanted to create something for families to enjoy together, to get outside and to problem solve.
“Having collaborated with LASTheatre previously, it’s great to follow the success of The Curious Case of Aberlliw, which has now been running for two years, with another piece that uses elements of Welsh folklore to engage with families.
“At Taking Flight, we worked tirelessly over lockdown on developing accessible digital theatre experiences. We want to get families – including those families who have access requirements – back enjoying theatre together. The routes for the trail are wheelchair accessible, and our actors interact with participants in English & BSL.”
For this event, which will take place at Bryngarw Country Park over the Halloween weekend, adventurers are encouraged to dress up as their favourite conjurer, magician or fairy, although it’s not compulsory.
The Conjurer of Cwrtycadno will be at Bryngarw Country Park on 29th & 30th October. Places are strictly limited and for booking and further information visit the website
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