Emma Geliot's picture

Blasted

A new theatre space opens soon at Porters Bar in Cardiff, with an ambitious programme of productions, including Blasted by Sarah Kane and a new bi-lingual play, A Good Clean Heart by Alun Saunders.

With a theme ofLife in Close-up , the season underlines The Other Room s ambition to be a new, exciting and innovative voice within the cultural landscape of Cardiff, and to build a pub theatre with a reputation comparable to London venues such as the Finborough Theatre, King s Head and The Gate. Artistic Director Kate Wasserberg explains: Our opening season will take worlds that we are used to seeing at a distance, and show them in close-up; stories that we are used to seeing behind glass, and put them within a few feet of us. It will take people we would rather not believe in, and bring them so close we can hear them breathing.

The three plays of our opening season all render ideas and experiences that it would be easy to feel disconnected from. Their beauty as plays stem from their capacity to make the strange familiar, the alien in-alien, the abstract visceral.

Kate Wasserberg directs the first two plays of the opening season, Blasted by Sarah Kane and an as yet unconfirmed one man show. Both productions will feature Kate s long-term collaborator, Swansea-born actor Christian Patterson (ITV s Mr Selfridge, Donmar, West End) and will be designed by the award-winning Max Jones and Ruth Hall (RSC, Globe, Royal Court, WNO).

Blasted by Sarah Kane (Sat 17 Feb Tue 07 Mar) shook audiences and appalled critics in equal measure when it premiered at The Royal Court in 1995. It begins as a chamber piece about dysfunctional relationships, set in a hotel room in Leeds and fractures and shatters into a brutal portrait of the realities of war. Blasted is scored by musician Nick Gill (Fireworks Night), who has written an album inspired by Kane s play, released alongside the production.

Wasserburg says: Blasted is one of the most extraordinary plays of the last half century and we will stage it in a room with only forty-five seats in all its terrible power and intensity. Those audience members who come fully prepared, and those who have no idea what they are about to see must equally engage their hearts and minds to see that war is not something that happens on our television screens. It is all around us, and the horrors of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and the Ukraine may as well be taking place in hotel room in Leeds.

Following the, as yet unconfirmed, one man show (Tue 24 Mar Sat 04 Apr), The Other Room s opening season will be completed with a new bi-lingual play - A Good Clean Heart by Alun Saunders (Tue 28 Apr Sat 16 May), which will be directed by former Sherman Cymru Associate Director Mared Swain. Jay and Hefin are brothers raised apart, in different families speaking different languages. When Hefin tracks Jay down he is catapulted into the violent and exciting world he was born into but never knew. As both boys struggle with the life they lost, their shared history risks bringing them both to the brink of disaster. A Good Clean Heart is a funny, moving, completely original play and a truly accessible bi-lingual work. Writer Alun Saunders comments: I m a proud first-language Welsh-speaker - Cymraeg is a wholly intrinsic part of who I am. At a time where nations and regions are hotly debating who they are, what defines them and how independent they wish to be, I want to explore just how national and personal borders are defined - simply by maps, or by feelings and choice?"

The Other Room s opening season will also feature variousTOR Presents events, including directors in conversation, guest speakers and cast talkbacks.

Following the first three plays of The Other Room s opening season will be: a Young Artist s Festival in June, featuring work made by 18-25 year olds under the professional mentorship of The Other Room and performed in the theatre with full professional support; the Cardiff Comedy Festival in July, continuing Porter s established relationship with the event and allowing The Other Room to share its brand new facilities with a wide range of artists and new audiences; and The Kitchen in August, The Other Room s development lab, which will work with both established and emerging practitioners from a variety of art forms to investigate new ways of creating.

The Other Room s Executive Director Elizabeth Day comments: This first season is a strong indicator of The Other Room s ambitions. Hard-hitting, contemporary small-cast plays, showcasing the best in provocative, compelling established work and new writing. We cannot wait to share this wonderful work and of course our new venue with audiences, and we re really looking forward to becoming a key part of Cardiff s theatre ecology.

Tickets for The Other Room s inaugural season, which opens with Blasted by Sarah Kane on Tue 17 Feb, are available now from www.otherroomtheatre.com. To keep updated on The Other Room, you can also follow the team on Twitter @TORtheatre and Facebook www.facebook.com/otherroomtheatre