Swindon Theatre Group Gets Covid-19 Grant

Swindon Theatre Group Gets Covid-19 Grant

Revolution Performing Arts Awarded £35,000 Covid19 Grant 

Swindon Theatre Group Get Covid-19 Grant: Revolution Performing Arts – a company that provides classes to children and young people across Swindon gets a grant from the Arts Council England’s Covid 19 Emergency Fund. 

Fiona Da-Silva Adams - Swindon Theatre Group Gets Covid-19 Grant

Founder, Fiona Da Silva-Adams said the money has been a life-saver for the organisation.

It’s currently offering its classes, one-to- one support and feedback online via Zoom and WhatsApp. It’s supporting around 350 young people aged 4 -18 years.

In addition, the team works with children in care and provides places free of charge to any young person affected by domestic abuse, referred by Swindon Women’s Aid. The aim is to provide an escape from the trauma of abuse. They also offer a family support morning to encourage autistic young people and their parents to experience the arts and network with each other.

Swindon Theatre Group Gets Covid-19 Grant – In shock

“When we knew lockdown was coming and that schools would close, I went into a state of shock. How would we survive this? Then we made a plan to go online and that’s what we’ve done. We got an initial premises grant which helped for a few weeks.

“This grant ensures that Revolution Performing Arts (RPA) can cover losses and remain a strong and viable company. With that there’s future delivery of performing arts twilight sessions for vulnerable young people.  When I knew we’d got the funding, I cried and cried. It means so much. 

“This now allows us to fund delivery of online sessions (a combination of live, pre-recorded and feedback). And provide a lifeline to young people during the pandemic.”

The birth of RPA

Fiona set up RPA in 2007 after a successful performing arts career which saw her study at the University of Middlesex and then return to Swindon to manage the Sixth Sense Theatre group – now known as Prime Theatre).

She struck out on her own under the original name of Drama Babes after having her children. The business has grown ever since and was later re-branded as RPA. 

After school clubs

“We run after school clubs in many Swindon schools and often in non-school settings offering a range of activities from dance and drama to circus skills,” Fiona said.

“Young people often come to us to feel included, respected and celebrated. They strive to create excellent works of high artistic quality. They can do this because they feel safe to express themselves. These sessions will ensure they remain connected and included and safe.”

Fiona manages a team of 15 workshop leaders, some employed, some freelance and some volunteers. The grant, from Arts Council England via The National Lottery, allows her to keep working with them all as they deliver online workshops. This is valuable as subs have dwindled due to families being unable to afford the fees. 

This isn’t the first time RPA have been in receipt of funding. In 2016, they received a smaller grant from Arts Council England in 2016 for an anti bullying film project in collaboration with Cre8 Studios.

Find RPA on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RevolutionPerformingArts/

Curiouser: A dance adventure

Curiouser: A dance adventure

Curiouser: A dance adventure for 3-6 yr olds – Swindon Dance

Flexer & Sandiland (UK) & dybwikdans (Norway) bring Curiouser: A dance adventure – a delightful dance and digital show to Swindon Dance: 22 February at 10.30am and 1.30pm.

Swindon Dance reside in the Town Hall on Regent Circus. The town hall features in both Secret Swindon AND Swindon in 50 Buildings. The town hall houses the fab Charlotte Corday statue and has the most amazing railings outside it.

Curiouser: A dance adventure  - poster for the show

In this show, children and adults embark on a delightful journey of curiosity and wonder. Guided by two friendly dance-performers, you’ll delve into magical caves, explore leafy forests, soar through starry night skies, and meet playful characters. All loosely inspired by the children’s classic Alice in Wonderland.

This is an interactive performance. One where you can choose to sit back and watch. Or you can get up and get-involved. Incorporating animated hand-drawn projection, dance, sound, text and interactive digital objects, Curiouser immerses and surrounds the audience to create an intimate yet spectacular experience. The show invites curiosity about what it might mean to view the world from a different perspective. 

Adults become little and children become great in this interactive imaginary world of ever changing proportions.

Treat your little ones to an adventure with award-winning dance & digital artists Flexer & Sandiland and Norwegian company dybwikdans, both companies renowned for their intimate immersive works for young audiences. Recommended age 3+.

Where to get tickets

You can get tickets from:  https://www.swindondance.org.uk/event/curiouser/  or telephone 01793 601700

Photo credits: Morten Berentsen 

See a short promo of Curiouser: a dance adventure on YouTube here.

About the dance company

First an international tour of Disappearing Acts in 2016. Next recent success of The Hum (2017) the company’s sited mobile phone App commissioned by Brighton Festival 2017 and touring across the UK and as part of Without Walls. Then Flexer & Sandiland began their UK tour of Curiouser with a sold out premiere at The Lowry Theatre and now they are touring the UK.

Revolution Performing Arts

Revolution Performing Arts

Revolution Performing Arts logo

I’ve been meaning to do this post about Revolution Performing Arts for a while now. But y’know how it is. I’m sorry Fi!

Fiona Di Silva Adams invited me to attend the show, by Revolution Performing Arts, called Be Your Unique at Swindon’s Arts Centre earlier in January. It’s taken me until now to get round to give it a mention here.

Revolution Performing Arts - Be your unique

‘Being unique is better than being perfect

RPA Rapport is a performing arts company with a difference – actively encouraging young people to find and celebrate their differences.

Changing young people’s lives. RPA nurtures all young people, empowering them to feel fabulous and celebrating the amazing individuals they are: revolutionpa.co.uk

In this annual sharing performance, the teenage members of RPA Rapport worked with professional arts practitioners to create pieces that explored what it means to be unique. This uplifting and thought-provoking performance comprised short drama, dance and music pieces all designed and technically managed by the young people themselves in their own words and attitudes.”

There were insightful monologues written by the young people themselves. They did the choreography themselves also. And, above all, as it says on the groups Facebook page: ‘showed that with young people in this world we can all make a difference to embrace our uniqueness and make the world a better place.’

As a friend of mine, Carole Bent, said of the dress rehearsal of this performance:

‘A genuine privilege to witness the dress rehearsal of ‘Be Your Unique’. Very well done to every single young person taking part, RPA team & the Arts Centre.

Am sure that the audience tonight will be as moved and engaged as I was & hope that everyone on stage enjoys every moment. Thankyou Fiona Fi Da Silva-Adams Paul, Sam Olly & all xx’

And Amen to that says I. Because being unique is sooooooo much better than being perfect!

Revolution Performing Arts on Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RevolutionPerformingArts/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RevolutionPA

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/revolution_performing_arts/

What people say about RPA

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train

I love a whodunnit. Who doesn’t? So last night’s performance of The Girl on the Train at the Wyvern theatre was much enjoyed.

I confess that, somehow or other, this million-seller novel by Paula Hawkins and film adaptation starring Emily Blunt, had pretty much passed me by. Which is sort of appropriate if you stop to think about it.

The Girl on the Train

The train is a perfect vehicle ( sorry!) around which to build a thriller. So it’s not surprising that Agatha Christie (the queen of crime herself) made brilliant use of it it Murder on the Orient Express. Also, Ethel Lina White’s 1936 novel The Wheel Spins – better known as The Lady Vanishes – uses the conceit of a mystery centred around a train. I don’t want to say too much about the plot of The Girl on the Train but there are resonances between the two – in that each features a young woman who has seen something on/from a train but is persuaded by others that she hasn’t. In this play the central character, Rachel Watson, has doubt planted in her mind by her ex-husband.

How is he able to achieve that? Because Rachel is a drunk on a downward emotional spiral. One of several themes running through this play is that of domestic abuse – in this case gaslighting.

In this central role, Samantha Womack ( of Eastender’s fame) is entirely believable as a young woman depressed by her infertility and the loss of her marriage, her husband to another woman who IS fertile and has produced a child. She gives a strong performance in what must be a challenging role.

Here Samantha Womack talks about the role: https://youtu.be/oEAHU2YctHc

The rather nifty passing train effect on the stage before the play began: https://youtu.be/bd1MN5UIPX0

The Stage Adaptation

It’s always interesting to see how a book is adapted for the stage. I thought this was rather nicely done. The passing of the days and the changes of location in this production are smoothly executed. My companion for the evening, who as it happens, had recently finished the novel, thought the adaptation was rather good.

All the elements of a good thriller are there. There’s the requisite number of red herrings for a start. All in all a cracking play.

The play is running at the Wyvern Theatre until Saturday 12th October – so if you’ve got a free evening get your tickets and get on board!

Book your tickets here: https://swindontheatres.co.uk/Online/tickets-the-girl-on-the-train-swindon-2019

The crime scene that greeted us on our return from the interval

The official trailer for the play: https://youtu.be/O2zY-9vJVHk

Wyvern’s Summer Youth Project 2019

Wyvern’s Summer Youth Project 2019

August 2019

Wyvern’s Summer Youth Project Serve up a sweet treat with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

If it’s late August that can mean only one thing: Wyvern’s Theatre Summer Youth Project 2019.

Running since 1994, the summer youth project has become a highlight of the Wyvern’s calendar.

Hear theatre director Laura James talking about the SYP: https://youtu.be/TMuT3eTpBMY

I’ve been to several of them now and they do seem to get better each year. They do a damn good job – all them. On stage and off – the standard is VERY high. All kudos to the Wyvern, to the foundation and to the kids themselves.

2017’s Summer Holiday was lovely and in last year’s production of Oliver, the then 16-year-old Archie Fisher made a big impression with a mature-beyond-his-years performance as Fagin.

I said it then – and I’ll say it again. That young man has ‘it’. So when, in a few year’s time, you see his name in lights remember: you saw him here first.

Here again, in the Wyvern’s Summer Youth Project 2019, in the lead role as Caractacus Potts, the still-only-17-year-old Archie gives a credible performance as as father to two young mother-less children.

Archie Fisher as Caractacus Potts with Ben Brindle as Jeremy and Mollie Avenell as Jemima. Wyvern theatre summer youth project 2019.
Archie Fisher as Caractacus Potts with Ben Brindle as Jeremy and Mollie Avenell as Jemima.

A host of memorable performances

But I can’t only talk about Archie Fisher. The production boasts a full complement of super performances. There are not one but two lovely comic duos. Michael Kerr gives a good turn as the infantile Bulgarian Baron – one feels apologies are owed to Bulgaria – and so does Rae Alexander as his long-suffering, indulgent wife.

Amy Gordon made a fitting Truly Scrumptious with her sweet singing voice fitting the role well.

Also deserving a particular mention are Maddy Stimpson-Duffy and Marcellus Hill as Cloris and Goran, the Baron’s bumbling spies sent to get hold of Pott’s car. Lots of laughs from all four! Super stuff.

Both the youngsters playing Pott’s children were scene stealers of course. But I have to give a special word about Mollie Avenell – I felt she too had a notable stage presence.

If you’re at a loose end tonight and you can get a ticket – go! https://swindontheatres.co.uk/Online/tickets-chitty-chitty-bang-bang-swindon-2019 It’s such fun! Scrumptious even. Truly!

Credit: All photos – screenshots aside – Anthony Hunt Photography

Things you might not know about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a 1968 British-American musicaladventurefantasy film.  Ken Hughes  directed it. Roald Dahl wrote it, loosely basing it on Ian Fleming’s 1964 novel Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car.

Albert R. Broccoli ( often known as Cubby) famous for being a regular co-producer of the James Bond films produced it.

The film starred Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann HowesAdrian Hall, Heather Ripley, Lionel JeffriesJames Robertson JusticeRobert Helpmann, and Gert Fröbe.

From the 1960s film: https://youtu.be/-P2jiRPlq2U

Christmas at the Wyvern Theatre

Christmas at the Wyvern Theatre

July 2019

I confess I didn’t know that Christmas in July is a thing in Down Under. I rather like the idea I must say. Amazing what you discover when writing about Christmas at the Wyvern Theatre.

What Christmas in July is in this country though, is a marketing opportunity. A quick root on a well-known search engine* brings up all sorts of marketing suggestions for business of all kinds. But in particular for hotels, restaurants and theatres to showcase Christmas menus and events. Makes sense.

*Other search engines are available. Like Ecosia for example which plants trees.

So – cue somwhat surreal silliness at the Wyvern Theatre for their Christmas in July event.

Born again Swindonian and Father Chritmas.

After sharing this on Twitter, Santa came online to apologise profusely for his drunken behaviour. Too many sherries and Santagrias he said. True story!


So we gorged on pigs in blankets, as is only right and proper it being Christmas, while the lovely Wyvern marketing team told us what’s going down at the theatre over the forthcoming festive season. And I know it’s only July BUT – JC’s birthday will hurtle towards us at the speed of light once we get into August.

Being all about the food and drink, my ears pricked up at mention of a new service being planned (I don’t think it’s here yet) whereby you’ll be able to get interval drinks brought to your seat. Which will be nice!

Now, I spend a fair amount of time in Surrey at my daughter’s and Esher has an Everyman cinema – go to an Everyman and you’ll never go to a multiplex again. The Everymans have couches and cushions and tables and tons of leg room. You order food and drink before you go into your film and they bring it to you. It’s amazing. I wish we had an Everyman in Swindon.

Sooo – back to the point – I’m liking this plan from the Wyvern.

Christmas Dining

Leaflet of Wyvern theatre Christmas menu

The Wyvern Theatre offers a range of pre-show dining experiences. All the info on their website here: https://swindontheatres.co.uk/Online/eat_drink

Christmas Paaaaartttyyy!

Leaflet/programme for Wyvern Theatre Christmas party.

If you want to get a group of folk together for a Christmas party event there’s all the info here.

He’s behind you!

Then last, but by no means least, there’s the Wyvern Christmas Panto. I’ve been to a few of these – they’re a great night.

This year’s panto is Sleeping Beauty, starring Michelle Collins (I’ve heard of her) and Chris Jarvis (not heard of him – but that means nothing. I’m not exactly current.)

Front of flyer for Wyvern Theatre Christmas pantomime

Full Wyvern Pantomime details are here.

Oh yes they are!!!

In the Spotlight!

The top floor venue for Wyvern Theatre dinner parties or pre-show dining.

Social media

The Wyvern Theatre on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WyvernTheatre/

On Twitter:

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