Loneliness & Isolation

31301761_595581430823532_7902876241391255552_nLoneliness and isolation is not only a problem with older people in our society, but this is the group that Reality Theatre decided to work with when embarking on their most recent project with Derwen Housing.  ‘Telling Stories’ has now come to an end and I am in the process of writing up the evaluation report for this project, whilst seeking funding to develop and expand the project to allow us to work with even more older people in Newport.

I don’t think anyone really cares…

Why do we wish to continue? Because there is a need. A need for these people to be recognised, to have a voice, to be treated as equal members of society.  Yes, the Welsh government is tackling the problem of loneliness and isolation and we are lucky to have assembly ministers like Jayne Bryant AM who genuinely cares about the issue and works passionately to improve the situation.  However, when government agencies are spending years on investigating and researching the problem, in order to write a report that is not due until 2019, this means that actual strategies may not be put in place until much later…which is no use to the current body of older people that we now have in our midst.

So how do these older people feel? “I don’t think anyone really cares”, says one resident, who has been attending forums and meetings for two years to advise and support government and organisations.  “It’s the same old thing. Meetings, then more meetings, and then nothing ever gets done.”

Organisations like Derwen Housing are doing a brilliant job at supporting older people, and Reality Theatre has loved working with them. What is needed now is a more immediate government strategy to be put in place to recognise the immediate needs of what is becoming an ignored and in some cases invisible group of people.

Derwen Afternoon Party

the conga Our afternoon party, held at Pant-y-Celyn Sheltered Housing, was a great success, with local musician, Ben Yendle, entertaining the residents who sang along and showed off their dancing moves.  The party was to celebrate our latest project, funded by CPRN, Cardiff University, a social intervention aimed at alleviating loneliness and isolation in older people

big ben

The afternoon enabled the Reality Theatre actors to meet and chat with the residents, to help develop the characters they will be playing in the forthcoming play to be performed in the Riverfront, Newport, on 16 April.

The play is a fictionalised account of the stories gathered from the Derwen residents over the last three months, and includes war-time tales and stories of emigration to Australia and South Africa, for a period spanning 1940s to the present day.  The play aims to show the lives of the residents from childhood to now, by merging their stories into one.

It is hoped that we can develop this project further in the future, to include more residents and more events across Newport.


‘Telling Stories’ Project


Our current project is a social intervention aimed at improving the emotional well-being of older people living in Derwen Housing, exploring how the provision of cultural activities may help alleviate social issues such as loneliness and isolation. This is a pilot project, enabled by seed-corn funding by Cardiff University.

We began the project by using music from across the decades to generate memories which are now being adapted into a play to be performed at the Riverfront, Newport, on April 16th. Some truly amazing stories have been told: war-time tales of family life, loss and bombings; freedom and childhood innocence; town hall dances and the first kiss; emigration and travels; army life; marriage, divorce and children…making the adaptation into a play very difficult! Some fascinating photographs have been collated too, showing a snapshot of life from 1930s until today;

A story ranging over several continents and 90 years, incorporating memories of so many wonderful residents, means that a great deal of the content, unfortunately, has had to be cut, but we have endeavoured to include something from everyone. Rehearsals are now underway, and the exciting phase of sourcing props and costumes has begun.

It is hoped that this pilot project can lead to the development of a long-standing commitment to arts-based projects for use within social housing organisations in Newport.

Anti-Hate Crime

It’s been an exceptionally busy time for Reality Theatre since our last production, ‘Stand By Your Man’.  We became a Community Interest Company, which was great news, and I have been busy trying to raise funds to keep us going.  Initially, I gave myself a year to pilot Reality Theatre as a prospective community business.  Just as the money was about to run out and I figured I’d have to go back to a ‘proper job’ and fold the company, the hard work paid off.  We have just been give our first pot of funding from the amazing Communities First, as well as conditional funding for a research project we shall be moving on to next (as soon as conditions are met, I shall announce further details).  Suffice to say, this has been a very hard period, but so worth it when I look at the work we have carried out and the work that we are about to do.  Without the fantastic team, none of this would have been possible and I would like to take the opportunity to thank them all for giving up their time, with no payment, to make this work.  Guys, I promise as soon as funding comes in, you will be paid for your services whenever possible!

In the meantime, work on the Crush Hate Crime festival is well underway and I take my hat off to all event organisers and promoters out there – this has been such a difficult and stressful event to manage and it’s been wonderful to see my son, Joe, rise to the occasion and take care of the music side of things.

The play, ‘Just a Bit of Banter’, is a brutal look at prejudice in the UK and raises questions about discrimination: what exactly is hate crime?  What does it means to be British, and how do the police deal with such crimes? Needless to say, the research element of this has been harrowing and I’ve been filled with great sadness; this is nothing compared to the suffering that victims of such vile crimes go through.

Please come along and support us.  Further dates to be announced soon.hate crime

Stand by Your Man Part 2 

Facts and Figures…

Our most recent performance has highlighted a very prevalent issue, although how prevalent we may never know. We will probably never know how many people are currently living in fear of their partner, in both straight and LGBT relationships. Male and female perpetrators, physical and emotional abuse, male and female victims afraid to leave because they may provoke an outburst of violence. 

Would we really know what we would do or how we would react if it were to happen to us? I mean we can talk a big game when watching incidents of domestic violence in plays on TV or even reading books … Telling ourselves that we would never let that happen to us. But would we really be that brave? Would we be able to actually stand up, fight back and walk out? 

Before I start to bore you all with the facts and figures my research has uncovered … I wanted to mention that I find that when I start to get involved in a particular subject I’m always confronted by it in some form.

A few weeks ago when we were just getting settled and Josh hadn’t long joined us making us a full ensemble I was met with an incident of domestic abuse. Now I must make a confession – I’m not the most tolerant person on the bus while I’m reading and have forgotten my headphones … I do not like noise that distracts me from my escapism. However, this day I was distracted by a young girl rushing past me and sitting behind me while sobbing audibly. 

I was relatively annoyed until I heard her speak: 

She was arguing over her hands free with what I can assume was her partner … She was sobbing throughout as she argued saying: Stop phoning me, I’m going to work, you know I’m going to work and that I work in Cardiff … Stop phoning me, this is harassment. She went on to continue pleading for him to stop contacting her, she then cried out really upset: You have just threatened to have me kicked out of my home … Are you serious? I’m going to the police about this.

Now as I had been researching domestic violence I felt I should reach out and I gave her Reality Theatre’s information for if she needed it. She hasn’t contacted me and I haven’t seen her since but perhaps just the reaching out helped – showing that she isn’t alone. After all that can be the only thing needed for someone to make the step…

While researching this issue I was surprised at some of the figures that I found … It makes me want to speak out about this issue. Perhaps, I can help somewhere but for now I’m going to post some information that I found… 

  • Domestic Violence accounts for 16% of all violent crime 
  • Domestic Violence accounts for an estimated 2 million victims a year
  • 2001/02 British Crime Survey: 635,000 incidents of Domestic Violence in England and Wales
  • British Crime Survey – 81% of victims were women… 19% of victims were men
  • Domestic Violence has a higher rate of repeat victimisation than any other crime 
  • 85% of women who leave an abusive relationship return to their abusive partners 
  • 8% of women will suffer Domestic Violence in any given Year
  • 1 in 4 women in England and Wales experience Domestic Violence in their lifetimes 
  • On average a woman is assaulted 35 times before her first call to the police
  • A woman will leave an abusive relationship 7 times before leaving for good
  • 40-70% of women reported abuse from a partner or from within the family
  • 2 women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current/former partner
  • Approximately, 100 women and 30 men are murdered per year 

  • Male victims: Over twice as likely not to report Domestic Abuse 
  • 10% will inform the police about abuse
  • 23% will tell a person in an official position
  • 11% will tell a health professional 
  • The number of female perpetrators has more than quadrupled in the last 10 years – 806 in 2004/05 … 4,866 in 2014/15 

  • Sigma Survey – 1 in 4 individuals in a same sex relationship experience domestic abuse at some time 
  • 49% of all Gay and Bisexual men have experienced at least 1 incident of Domestic Abuse
  • 1 in 4 Lesbians and Bisexual women have experienced Domestic Violence – 2/3 Abusers are Women and 1/3 Abusers are Men
  • 80% of Transgender people have experienced emotional, sexual or physical abuse 

A new initiative is coming into play as of April 2016 and it will challenge perpetrators to change their behaviours… If the behaviour changes then there is less chance of repeat victimisation!! 

Stand by Your Man – Part 1

Stand by Your Man opened on Thursday 18th May to a sellout crowd … Making the upstairs room in the Pen and Wig a veritable hothouse full of people. I mean there were even a few people we had to turn away – Amazing for us, not so amazing for those we turned away!! 

We did experience our fair share of nerves … However, we were worried about nothing as we had an audience that was basically packed in like sardines !! 

Our Stand by Your Man family did us proud: Kiri Evans (Beth), Stuart Fouweather (Stu), Steven Lansdown (Steve), William Craig (Will), Josh Green (Dean) and last but by no means least Jane Morgan (Aunty Jane) !!! Amazing performances given by all… And only one timing error when Steve tried to walk off stage left when he should of gone to the bar. The “heavies” we’re ready to block and guide him to where he had to go (Juls and Myself). I do believe we got a laugh… 😂😂

The response was fantastic … The team were Superb … The tension that built in each scene was palpable and when it exploded to Frank Carter’s: I Hate You the room was shocked!! 

Kiri and Stuart were brilliant as Beth and Stu. Kiri (Beth) really made you feel the pain and suffering while she pleaded with audience members for help. Even before Stu explodes into violence we can feel the nervous tension in their relationship and it really hits the audience hard … The desperation from Kiri (Beth) while Stu stalked behind her was nothing short of perfect!! The Girl should be in Hollywood!! Stuart will never get a good guy role again after this … His evil stare and silent brooding make him the ultimate villain. 

Amidst this physically abusive relationship with have Dean and Will’s emotionally tumultuous and manipulative relationship. Here I have to give Josh Green his due as he came to us quite late in the rehearsals stage but he powered through amazingly. Throughout we are given a glimpse of an emotionally abusive relationship – Will is a cruel and manipulative abuser who uses Josh’s (Dean) insecurities against him. We are given the impression that Will has all the power in this couple so it is all the more shocking when Josh (Dean) flips and becomes the perpetrator of physical abuse… An amazing portrayal of an LGBT abusive relationship, highlighting a community that is usually overlooked. We have two amazing actors in these roles, they portray the introvert and extrovert really well, with a building of frustration that boils over so suddenly that we are all surprised. 

As for Steve what can we really say?? The man is naturally funny, he need only walk into the room. As a result he is always our comic relief even in our most thought-provoking and tense performances. He plays the deluded drunk to a tee. Staggering about the scenes trying to convince himself that things in his past didn’t happen and his drinking everyday to try to forget. It is only when he confronted by the domestic abuse his daughter experienced that it all comes to a head … He attempts to stand up for Kiri (Beth) but he ends up back in the bar trying to equate his own actions with that of what happened to Beth. 

Finally, we come to Aunt Jane, of whom I do not have photo. For me Jane is one of the most important characters in this play. Domestic Violence is a crime that has one of the highest revictimisation rates in the UK. Jane is the catalyst for this … She has lived alone believing that this is what men do, they don’t like something so they give you a tuning to keep you in line so she explains it away. She sends Kiri (Beth) back to Stu as she has been conditioned to expect it. Our Jane plays her role well and the lipsyncing at the end is the icing on the cake. 

All of our fight scenes were choreographed by the very talented Benjamin Leonidas-Morgan and Volente Lloyd. They very kindly helped us to get the fights right, so that none of our actors were hurt during both rehearsals and the production. Thank-you very much for helping us retain our realism.

And a big thank-you to our very own Boardmember Joe for the sound and lighting … You cued the music at the right times and the right volume… Last but not least our fantastic director Julie Benson, a friend I’m glad I got back in touch with!!! Thank you for being amazing and for letting me help 💃 

I can’t believe I’ve forgotten to add Lisa Floyd’s amazing set design … We couldn’t have done it without her and her perfectionism !! Julie and I probably would have thrown something togetber and it would have looked derelict haha!!! You made us look pro and I do hope your finger is now better – Thanks for all your artistic flair…

😌😌 👍👍👏👏👏