Horatio Nelson Theatre Cat Writing from my starry window-sill!

Dear Friends,

40 years of performance at LLANDOVERY THEATRE.

We are celebrating with  an OPEN DAY – followed by a performance of the film of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.

The Date: SATURDAY 15th SEPTEMBER.

About the Film:

The Taming of the Shrew first began as a youth stage production, with filming started around 2002 – it was completed 2005 and we began editing. Then Simon Barnes, Director with Jacky on the film, died, and since then we have been trying to complete edit and technicals. It has taken 13 years!

The film is made as an Introduction to Shakespeare for young people, and some of the cast are very young, 10 years or less, some playing considerably ‘meaty’ parts.  We filmed in wonderful areas, including the magnificent Aberglasney Gardens, and the Brecon Beacons, it was our first film, so we made plenty of mistakes, but the acting is always watchable, and at times, brilliant.

Beshlie Thorp, who plays Kate (the Shrew!) will be with Jacky introducing the film, and maybe relating some of the crazy scenes that happened off camera!!

We welcome all past youth actors, friends and supporters to join us for this celebration.  If we do not have your contact details and you would like to be with us, email jacky.barnes@btinternet.com and we will book you in.

Watch Llandovery Theatre Web page and also The Post, for updates.

Do join us for this day. we are making history!

HORATIO NELSON – THEATRE CAT.

Taming of the Shrew

Horatio Nelson Theatre Cat – Writing from my starry window-sill!

Most dear Friends and Theatre lovers,

So sorry to have missed writing to you last month – Jacky was somewhat involved in matters of consequence, and though I am perfectly capable of writing my blog on my own, she does just like to oversee my letter, and I don’t like to disappoint her.

Much important work has been going on at the Theatre – with several splendid new fire doors installed and much carpentry work of great excellence, we have been very busy!

DID YOU KNOW?
August 2016 is the 40th year anniversary of the Theatre, and we are planning to bring together past friends and youth actors to have a celebration. Already by way of the Theatre Memoir  – What Country Friends is This? we have been contacted by friends from the past, from France, Canada, Australia and other good places, and we have recently met up with actors from the 1981 youth production of Romeo and Juliet: Romeo who arrived at the theatre – the evening of the launch of the Memoir, Mercutio who was actually performing with us on stage that day, Paris who has visited us twice now from the far off land of Liverpool – and we are ‘linked in’ (whatever that may mean) to Friar Lawrence! (Practically a full cast list here! Well perhaps not quite!).

The Taming of the Shrew
Also Chris Thomas, our Editor, is currently working to ‘rescue’ the youth film production of The Taming of the Shrew, so that we can show it on the Theatre screen. Filmed in the Theatre, and at Aberglasney Gardens, it has been awaiting rescue these past 10 years or more!  We really think Chris has success on the way! Watch this space!

If you were involved in the theatre at any time in the past 40 years – as actor, artist, professional or as a volunteer and you are not currently in contact with us – do let us have your email, so we can let you know the days of our 40 years ‘celebration’ and send you an invitation. And if you are new to Llandovery, you are equally welcome to contact us. PLEASE HELP US TO MAKE 2018 A THEATRE YEAR TO REMEMBER!

Horatio Nelson
Theatre Cat

email:  jacky.barnes@bt internet.com

Horatio Nelson Theatre Cat – Writing from my starry window-sill!

Dear Friends

They tell me that a cat has nine lives. Well, my friends, I have travelled a long journey and am now settled in a new world and the start of my second life – my first having been lived, in what I believe to be an almost perfect paradise – the Theatre world.

Theatre folk are a family – not blood related but joined by creativity, by dreams, by shared success and – yes – sometimes by failure! I have shared all, enjoyed all and loved long, for we Thespians know that total dedication and love is an absolute requirement for the aspiring artist and actor. He that chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath – so says Shakespeare.

To be or not to be!
In these difficult and confusing times it is hard to remain positive about the future, especially when our town of Llandovery seems to be reflecting a general loss of energy; we have lost our children and their secondary school, our shops are mostly empty, to attend a bank we have to queue up in the car park and our wonderful post office is about to close.

As actors, we are aware that the Thespian life is often precarious – but Llandovery Theatre is about to reach its 40 year anniversary, it is named in a recent Review of the Theatre memoir *What country friends is this? as ‘possibly the most beautiful small theatre arts centre in the Kingdom’ – surely a good time for renewal of hope, a time for celebration! If you would like to know more – go on the theatre Web page and click ‘contact us’ and leave us a message – we read everything and we will respond.

The Sleeping Beauty
Llandovery is a Conservation Town, it has a proud and exciting history linked to its Roman and Ricardian connections, with a landscape setting in the shadow of the Black Mountains that cannot be equalled for beauty – but Llandovery sleeps – and a Sleeping Beauty is no use to anyone – though, come to think of it, we do have a Prince living in the area!

Horatio Nelson

*copies of ‘What country friends is this? are available via Amazon and the Post Datum Office, Llandovery

HORATIO NELSON THEATRE CAT – From my new window-sill!

They tell me that a cat has nine lives.Horatio the Theatre Cat Well, my friends, I have travelled a long journey and am now in a new world and the start of my second life – my first having been lived, in what I believe to be an almost perfect paradise – the Theatre world.
Theatre folk are a family – not blood related but joined by creativity, by dreams, by shared success and – yes – sometimes by failure – I have shared all, enjoyed all and loved many, for we Thespians know that total dedication and love is an absolute requirement for the aspiring artist and actor. He that chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath – so says Shakespeare.
There are many plays and ideas and much talent that I leave behind, some published, some not – and I hope, maybe, you will look into Poems of Love and Loss and see the poems I have inspired, some even written about me! One such is called My Cat is not a Beauty. A title that puzzled me, until I was assured that it was a poem of love and affection towards me – and of course I believe that now!
I love starry nights, especially when it is cold and frosty, and one can see the stars above so clearly and if you raise your voice to cry out the name of the one you love, then the Black Mountains will send that name reverberating around in a brilliant medley of sound, echoing that name back to you again and again! Try it – we are in mid-winter! Maybe I will hear you from my new window-sill on my star! I will be listening!
Please be kind to my beautiful theatre and the folk who run it. They want only to give pleasure and create exciting performance work. We need new friends to help us thrive into and beyond 2018. Will you be a friend? If you go on the theatre Web page – read all about us – then click on contact us – we read everything and we will respond – and – if you are looking for a Christmas gift for a friend, try Simon Barnes’ comic novel – Darkly flows the Taff – it is set in Wales, not far from here – and is a happy read.
Thank you for reading my message – May you all have a Happy Christmas and Peaceful New Year!

Horatio Nelson
www.llandoverytheatre and Facebook
All books available in paper/back or ebook via Amazon.

About love letters

Kind Friends!

I want to talk today about love letters.  I am so worried that they will go out of fashion and become obsolete, and I need your help. I am talking about hand-written love letters.  It seems to me that the young and even the not-so-young generation are totally obsessed with screens – the smart phone I believe one is called – and I will never really understand the fashion to sit staring slavishly at a smart phone – when to look around one, observe the world is so much more exciting – and so much safer too, when crossing roads! The joy of receiving or sending a hand-written letter is so splendid and, sadly, I believe, it is being taken over by the ‘tweet’.

I am, as I have mentioned before, an ancient cat – now in my 19th year, and I know the joy I experience to receive a hand written letter – as opposed to an email. I use email, of course, to communicate with my friends – but too often it is a frustrating business.  People now receive so many emails they have spam files, and I often think my epistles are swallowed into this abyss!

Writing Love Letters

Receiving a proper handwritten letter, one always replied – because then one would get another letter and the circle of correspondence would be never-ending.  Perfect!  A hand-written letter you can keep – can mull over, re-read, store away – it becomes  a written history of your friendship or love affair – it can bring comfort and joy well into old age, as we know in our Thespian household where writing is still a daily occupation.

A hand-written love letter is the work of the heart –  it is personal –  it can reveal your inner soul, and captured on the page, complete with blots from tears or the pen, it becomes a unique offering.  The computer, however, is not sensitive to mood – it will play up in the middle of creating a poem or play, it can delete on a whim – but if everything is written on paper by hand – nothing will be lost.

Cover Poems of Love and LossAs a Theatre Cat – I see my work is to watch over our performances and creative writing and to draw your attention to anything I think might be of special interest.  If you would like to read a love letter or two, go to our Theatre Memoir What Country Friends is This? – if, on the other hand you have had experience of having ‘loved and lost’ then maybe try Poems of Love and Loss our latest publication.  Both books are available via Amazon, and to follow the deeds and daring of Llandovery Theatre Company, do go to our web page, click on ‘publications’ and read some of the recent reviews for our books.

Thank you for reading my words!  Long live love!

Horatio Nelson

13 October 2017

Friends, neighbours, Countrymen!

It was 15th August last I saw, by chance, an article in a Welsh newspaper in which a group of three are pictured holding a flag – to honour Rhys ap Thomas for his treachery in killing Richard III at Bosworth Field.  I believe I am a cat of some perception, but I was somewhat amazed at the bizarre suggestion in this article that by this deed, Rhys ap Thomas also struck a blow for the promotion of the Welsh language.

It would seem that Richard III did nothing for the Welsh – except. of course, he gave a Charter to our town of Llandovery – later ratified by our present Prince of Wales – and he also gave Rhys ap Thomas considerable lands and an income for life – and in exchange Rhys ap Thomas swore allegience to Richard III – his oath as follows:  Whoever ill-affected to the state, shall dare to land in those parts of Wales where I have ‘anie’ employment under your Majesty, must resolve with himself to make his entrance and irruption over my belly’. 

So, what happened that he turned traitor?  Henry Tudor and his army of French conscripts began an advance into Wales – Rhys ap Thomas, seeing he was outnumbered decided to change sides – to turncoat!  But, what about his solemn oath?  Well, at this point it would appear the matter descends almost into farce.  It was suggested by a churchman that maybe if Rhys ap Thomas just lay down in the road and let Henry Tudor ‘step over him’ that would exonerate him from his oath.  This, apparently did not please Rhys ap Thomas – well, there was a lot of rain around at the time – and it was decided, instead, that Rhys ap Thomas would shelter under a bridge, and allow Tudor to march over him, thereby – sort of – exonerating him from his oath!  Wow!

Also, you see, Richard III is criticised as he did not support the Welsh language – though neither did Henry VII, Henry VIII, Mary Tudor or Elizabeth lst.  It is certainly true that Elizabeth’s Act of 1563 stated that a Welsh bible should be printed – ‘by conferring bothe tongues together, the sooner to attayne to the knowledge of the English tongue’ but the Government in allowing its use side by side with the English bible …intended to hasten the extinction of the Welsh language.  (See Aber-Cook – Pages from the History of Llandovery).

As Rhys ap Thomas died in 1525 – he can’t actually have had much say in the promotion and publication of the Welsh bible in 1563.   What is true, however, there appear to be no lengths to which some will go to vilify Richard 111 and with him the English language.

Below this newspaper article is another.  This time quoting the words of an ‘international rugby referee’ – the article chastises parents who do not wish their children attending primary school to be taught solely in Welsh – words like ‘respect our way of life’ – are hurled at the unsuspecting heads of parents because of their views and wishes – in a most disrespectful way.

I am an old cat, and I certainly won’t be around in 2050 to count if the one million Welsh speakers that Plaed demand actually exist and quite honestly, I have such good, kind neighbours who always speak to me in the language we both understand – English! My suggestion is that those who want to promote the Welsh language should take a step back and begin to listen to their wider community. Their dreams may not be the same as yours, but they have every right to a choice – to be treated with fair play and given a level playing field – something all rugby players and their referees would demand.

stained glass panel by artist Caroley BergmanOn a happy note: the image shown here is of a stained glass panel by the artist Caroley Bergman.  She also designed and re-produced the Richardian flags that were used at the Battle of Bosworth for Simon Barnes’ play TRIPLE DICK.  The play was produced and performed at Llandovery Theatre as part of the celebrations for the re-instatement of the Royal Charter by the Prince of Wales, in 1985.

Thank you for reading my words – You will realize, by now, that I am a Richardian – and, on reflection, possibly the first Theatre Cat to be so!

Horatio Nelson

National Poetry Day

Dear Friends!

National Poetry Day – 28 September 2017  – The theme is Freedom!

It is so good to read in The Post, of the several groups of writers who are meeting in Llandovery to enjoy and create poetry and prose stories.  So much talent in our town and so many tales to tell, to unlock from personal memory and share with the world.  Writing can be a consolation and a balm – it can release the tension of dark days and sleepless nights, it can bring joy just by the mere achievement of putting a few thoughts on paper, in verse or in prose.
Examining the theme of ‘freedom’ I wonder if we truly have freedom to speak and write in the language of our choice.  Writing of any kind, be it a novel or a poem, requires an audience.  The author believes and hopes the audience will be vast, and will therefore write in the language he is familiar with from birth, and if he becomes famous his work will then be translated for the world.  It is the ‘creating’ language that is the main issue. For us, here in Llandovery Theatre – it is English – and to celebrate National Poetry Day – here is a recent poem, written following a drama workshop with a group of young adults with learning disabilities – and particularly ‘dedicated’ to one un-named young  man in his search for vocal freedom.

The drama class
I search for the route to tunnel through,
to find you, the real you,
I wonder at the pattern of your thoughts,
that neither of us can disentangle,
and how to meet you on a mutual plane.
Sometimes for a moment when your face lights up
I think we have made contact,  then
the light flickers out so soon –
bright for a moment, and dark again –
A flash of lightening only!
When we meet next, we will tread your vast
disordered field
I, searching for a moment when
we can be joined together
by the line of a poem or the words of a song.

Richard 111 and Llandovery 
The Theatre has had several enquiries and requests to read the script of TRIPLE DICK – Simon Barnes’ play on the last days of Richard 111, first performed in the Assembly Rooms Llandovery in 1977, and repeated 1985 in the Theatre.
There is a growing interest in Richard 111 since his bones were discovered in the Leicester Car Park, and there is now some interest in investigating who was actually responsible for the death of the Two Princes.  At the time of Battle of Bosworth, James Tyrell (the reputed murderer of the Princes) was Steward of Llandovery Castle,
and Richard 111 was ‘Lord of the manor of Llandovery’ and gave the town its first Royal Charter  – the second Royal Charter came from The Prince of Wales in 1985, who now has a home a few miles outside our town, a very special Royal link renewed!

Pages from the History of Llandovery – Volume One
When Simon was researching for his play, he and Jacky met with  A.T.Aber-Cooke – the Historian, indeed Mr Aber-Cooke wrote a review of Triple Dick, now alas lost! He was, at that time working on his magnum opus – Pages from the History of Llandovery and he told us Tyrell was Steward of Llandovery Castle. We believe he gives more detailed information in Volume One of his ‘Pages’.  The Theatre has copy of Volume Two but not Volume One.  If anyone has a copy of Volume One,  and would be happy to loan it to us for a short while, we would be very grateful.

Poems of Love and Loss
Returning again the theme of Poetry, it is quite by chance that we are about to publish a small book of poems – Poems of Love and Loss – which should be available by National Poetry Day or very soon after!  Please watch the Llandovery Theatre Web page or our Face Book page for details and in the meantime, thank you for reading my ‘thoughts’ and do keep writing!
Horatio Nelson
Llandovery Theatre.com

More thoughts from my window sill…

Dear Friends,

I have been wondering!    It is not often that life echoes fiction, but it almost did, for us theatre folk, on June 8th!

Blind Choice OR Would you vote for a man who wore make-up?

Some years ago the youth Company at Llandovery Theatre performed one of our plays – Blind Choice or Would you vote for a man who wore make-up?  a political satire on the spin of politics.  An election is looming – and in order to appeal to the younger voter, the Conservative Party set up a TV programme complete with Spin Doctor and young ‘glamorous’ Agent, and present three young candidates – who are ‘grilled’ on their aims and beliefs.   At the end, the viewing audience vote, via their screens, as to which chap they would choose as Conservative candidate for Wandsworth West.

Hung Parliament!

Fate intervenes!  A young, unemployed man, Dan Death, wanders into the TV studio, and is mistakenly picked as one of the contestants.  The ‘count’ is rigged, so no-one organising intervenes to correct this, but when it comes to the voting, Dan wins, not by just a few votes, but by a million!

Fast Forward to the Election, the young maverick, resisting the make-overs and ‘grooming’ –  is still his own man, but at the Election count, the two major parties come in with exactly the same number of votes.  Three re-counts, and then the resolution is by the toss of a coin.

The final screen display at the end of the play states ‘HUNG PARLIAMENT!’

I don’t have a vote, being a mere cat.  And though I am not a sooth-sayer, I sometimes have ideas while sitting on my window-sill.  I suggest – as it is likely there could be another election within, say, the next year, you lose no time but go now to your sitting MP and make sure (whatever the party) that he or she is going to support, up to the hilt, the demands for more funding for the National Health and dementia care, and that university fees be abolished.  Add to these three, your needs for good access to primary and secondary schools, without asking children to travel hundreds of miles a week, this could and should be the responsibility of the County Councils.  So get onto them too!

Questions that need answers!

As I come to the end of my letter, news is flooding the airways of the terrible inferno at Grenfell Tower in London, with such a tragic loss of life, and reports maintaining that the cause of the spread of the fire was because the cladding on the exterior of the building was not fire retardant.  Are there tower blocks in Wales constructed using such cladding?  The answer may well be – YES!    All should be checked and dealt with today, now, without waiting for any Public Enquiry.

From my window sill

Dear Friends,
As the song goes – June is busting out all over…

This month of June, our team at Llandovery Theatre – our Trustees, Actors, Artists, Writers and Friends will be meeting to discuss and mull over plans for the coming year.

History
It was an evening of 1975 – Simon and Jacky Barnes were sitting in the kitchen in their house when there was a bang on the front door.  A very loud bang!  Opening it, they discovered four young men!  Was this a delegation from the Welsh free army, they wondered?!

The four lads entered the small kitchen – ‘Heard you are actors’ one said – ‘we’ve come to ask if you would consider directing us – the Llandovery Young Farmers –  in the All Wales YFC drama competition?’  (So not the Welsh free army!)

The play chosen that night was OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR, the brilliant anti-war script from Joan Littlewood’s Theatre in Stratford East, London – Theatre Workshop – later made into a film, directed by Richard Attenborough.  For the Llandovery Theatre Company it was the start of work with community and youth drama projects that would last over 40 years!

Llandovery Theatre Company
We are here to support and develop your performance dreams.  We work in a building, recently described in a Review on Amazon of What Country Friends is This? as ‘possibly the most beautiful small Theatre and Arts Centre in the kingdom’.  Yes, it is beautiful – it is your Theatre, it is a Theatre for everyone!

Interested?  Like to be involved?

Follow us on the Llandovery Theatre Face Book, or Theatre Web Page, and contact us to let us know your ‘dreams’.

Read all about us!

What Country Friends is this? is the Theatrical Memoir of Simon and Jacky Barnes, and the building of the Llandovery Theatre. It is available via Amazon, in paperback and ebook.

Find out about us!  It is a good read for a summer afternoon!

Horatio Nelson

P.S.  This picture is of me sitting in a deckchair being photographed – somewhat against my will.  I was a very inexperienced young cat in those days, and not yet used to ‘theatricals’.

Horatio

From my window sill

Kind friends,

The adventures and misadventures of being a writer are numerous.  I know, because my Thespian writes books as well as plays and has just published her first novel, and we were expecting to receive the first shipment from the USA (that is where the book is printed).  We are given the date of arrival, and I am alert on my window sill to advise her when I hear the van arrive.  It was a long wait, a very long wait, and to tell the truth I was exhausted with watching and waiting, and the wait continued for the next four days – nothing arrived.  Where was her ‘child’ she kept asking!  4th day contact with USA revealed that the shipment was untraceable – lost!

LOST IN TRANSIT!
Jacky was not best pleased.  She began to talk of hi-jack and that the Americans didn’t know where Wales was. and had probably sent her novel to Patagonia!  We were now to await another shipment, and I was back on my window sill as ‘look out’ while Jacky paced the house muttering unprintable oaths against all carriers of books. Clearly she was now convinced it was a conspiracy.  Maybe Donald Trump had issued an edict that all newly published books leaving the States should be scrutinised for any un-American dialogue!  A title with the words ‘vigil’ and ‘death’ and ‘innocence’ was probably the trigger for suspicion.  But the book is a ‘peace’ novel, and anti-war – and the title page has an image of an ivy crucifixion – (detail from Simon Barnes’ painting in the Theatre Art Gallery).  By now she was quite paranoid, and I had to give her a good talking to, advising patience.

THE ‘BOOK LADY’!
Seven more days, and the second shipment arrived.  She greeted the carrier with some suspicion, but he was friendly enough, saying she was known to him as ‘the book lady’. Well that’s a new title for her for sure, though as she had never met this carrier before – it did seem strange to both of us!  However, we now have copies of  VIGIL FOR THE DEATH OF INNOCENCE and can confidently announce that it is available in paperback or as an ebook via Amazon, or via Jacky if you can get her to part with any of them.

 VIGIL FOR THE DEATH OF INNOCENCE

VIGIL FOR THE DEATH OF INNOCENCE

Jaqueline Harrison Barnes 

HE was a soldier, had fought in wars, had killed, yet he had the gift of healing.
HE was a doctor, trained to heal, to save life yet failed in the one great test.

TWO MEN from different worlds, one black, one white, collide in a car crash.
At that precise moment, as their two lives are irrevocably intertwined,
the security cameras in the Tower of London, watching the Royal Regalia, show
an image of a circlet of thorns beside the Royal Crown – and start to send out to
the world, messages of love and pleas for peace that cannot be stopped.

A political adventure! A weak and bankrupt Government intent on unleashing the ‘dogs of war’ versus a small group of ‘innocents’ who cross their path with a miracle. 

Horatio Nelson says: please go to the Llandovery Theatre Facebook Page or Llandovery Theatre web page for all information on new writing and publications.