BLOG NO. 8 - ANWEN FRANCIS
The Torch Theatre has always played an important part in my life. I visited the Theatre annually as a child with Cardigan Primary School and the festive panto was the highlight of the year. I have very fond memories of visiting the Torch and that’s where my passion for theatre, writing, radio and television work all started.
Fast forward some 20 years, and I’ve been fortunate enough to use my theatre, music and media skills as a freelance at the Torch - as a translator and as part of the marketing team (and what a great team we are!) There’s nothing better than seeing your hard work pay dividends and the theatre auditorium full to the brim with theatre goers watching a terrific production and leaving having had a wonderful experience, wanting more!
I can’t imagine a world without theatre. At the Torch we welcome a variety of companies – some bilingual, others through the medium of English and others that are Welsh only such as Jemima (Arad Goch) and Imrie (Frân Wen and Sherman Theatre) to be shown over the next few months. We also welcomed a musical drama Tic Toc recently that proved very popular and we welcomed a few branches of the Merched y Wawr, including the Hwlffordd branch.
It’s always a challenge attracting a Welsh audience to the Torch. However, since Covid and the Torch re-opening its doors to the public, Welsh language productions are proving to be more popular as more people learn the language and are keen to hear and use it. We also host Coffi Cymraeg sessions every second Tuesday of the month where we welcome speakers of all abilities in a relaxed environment at Caffi Torch. We really are a great bunch and recently featured on S4C’s Prynhawn Da daily magazine programme. We also invited and welcomed Shan Cothi from the BBC to host her Welsh language show with us with the support of Menter Iaith Sir Benfro. And not only did we have a terrific morning of laughs, we also had very tasty Welsh cakes as we discussed every subject under the sun in Welsh.
Our social media posts and press releases as well as our web content are all bilingual as well as all brochures.
I have over the years worked for a variety of theatre and broadcasting companies and the experiences I have gained along the way have been invaluable. From being the west Wales reporter with BBC Wales to being live content producer at the Royal Welsh Show (all through the medium of Welsh). I worked for the Tivyside Advertiser in Cardigan for over 20 years as a roving reporter and enjoyed being out and about meeting people and researching stories, editing and translating, concentrating on a Welsh language page.
I’m also very fortunate to have a very creative brain – my imagination runs wild and this has allowed me to write over 10 novels for children through the medium of both Welsh and English. The Siani Shetland series proved very popular and was based on a living breathing Shetland Pony who played a very important part in my family life. Together, Siani and I visited over 100 schools across Wales and appeared on several television programmes. People loved Siani and were totally inspired when they met the main character – this enticed many to read her stories and divulge into the world of Welsh literature. Since then I’ve written, adapted and translated the Diesel the Donkey series and Abigail’s Magic.
During this time, my mother tongue has opened many doors and allowed me to meet terrific work colleagues. Ensuring the Welsh presence at the Torch is vitally important, giving Welsh learners a platform to feel relaxed using the language, gaining confidence and pride. We also follow the Welsh Government Welsh Language guidelines and offer you a very warm Welsh welcome at the Torch.
Photo credit: Tim Rees
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