Horatio Nelson Theatre Cat

Writing from my starry window-sill!

Hallo Friends,

I have been having an interesting time these past weeks since we last met; I have been listening to the wisdom of friends.

You will know – especially if there is one of my species in your life – that cats are very good listeners. We may appear to be sleeping on our window-sill but many times have I overheard conversations, tales of joy or pain – and as I collect the data (you see I am still in the 21st century of internet communication) – as I collect, select and reject, I very often discover a new piece of wisdom – a new truth!

Two strangers meet – the two know each other – well, let me put it this way, they know each other by sight.  It is Stone Street, Llandovery – both have parked their cars one behind the other, so they both emerge more or less at the same time.  One turns to go away up the street, the second calls out – ‘Hallo – how are you?’

He turns, puzzled, and there follows an introduction by her – ‘I’m from the Theatre!’ she says – she is referring to Llandovery Theatre.

Enlightenment! He advances, he asks – ‘How is the Theatre?’

‘Well’ she says – ‘it is causing some concern – so difficult since Simon died and recently we’ve had so many new fire precautions installed, and there is still more to do – and it is costing so much and I am getting very old!’

He reveals he too is getting old, but he is still younger than her!

‘I think’ he says ‘that the Theatre was Simon and Jacky’s child – and you don’t ever abandon a child’.  She agrees.

‘I think’ he adds  ‘you should start a new dream!’

Later that night, she was talking to another friend – this time on the ‘phone.  Did that ‘phone call really last 4 hours? Yes it did! He said – amongst a lot of other stuff –

‘Everyone has a dream and he quoted Exupery’s ‘The Little Prince’ .

‘Oh that book is the actors’ bible!’ she replied (she is an actor – amongst other things!)

‘Read it!’ he ordered! Yes, it was something of an order, but she is an obedient person and she was happy to read it, well she loves the book. And then he quoted Exupery – ‘Don’t stand on the shore worrying about the ship, look to the horizon!’

She did read again Exupery’s The Little Prince – she did as she was told, she read it all through – there is no such quote!  But it doesn’t matter because by now she has listened to two friends – and neither were saying ‘lay down your sword, surrender ‘ both were saying ‘start a new dream’.

‘At my age?’

‘At any age – live your dream! Everyone has a dream!’

So she picked up her pen and started to write again.

Horatio Nelson

Writing from my starry window-sill!

Most dear friends,

You may have noticed that you have not had a letter from me recently!  I hope, selfishly, that you have missed me, one does like to feel appreciated – for there have, as a Judge might say, been mitigating circumstances for my neglect of you! The Theatre may have looked dark and solitary over the past few months – but believe me – inside there has been tremendous activity as we laboured to install new fire doors, fire cladding under the rake, new push bar exit, not forgetting to mention maintenance and repairs in order to provide you with a comfortable building to enjoy.

It is so good to meet with writers and poets, and wonderful, too, to see our ex youth actors, even if it is just bumping into them in a Supermarket like Tom Starnes who played Jack Worthing in The Importance of Being Earnest or when they just turn up on our doorstep like Beshlie Thorp – Katharina in the film of The Taming of the Shrew. Beshlie is in her final term (MA in acting) at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School  – having essayed the role of Mrs Beeton in a new Musical Mrs Beeton Says – and is now in rehearsal for Nicholas Nickleby (Dickens) in which she plays Madame Mantalini. 

But, in the darkness, there is often light; and a meeting with a poet the other day has triggered new hope and expectation as – dear friends – he said he ‘always enjoyed reading Horatio Nelson’s blog!’ And, he followed this remark with ‘I have read your book!’  Well, it’s Jacky’s book actually – What Country Friends is This? – about theatre life and the building of Llandovery Theatre, a love story – and what’s more – the most kind poet added – ‘I have read your book twice!’ Well, with such a kind response to our writing definitely merited me getting off my celestial windowsill and writing to you all.

My, that did bring back memories for Jacky – who claims she read Nicholas Nickleby seven times when she was young!  Questioned how this could be, she says she fell in love with Nicholas! The power of books and reading – for, to my certain knowledge she has been in love with Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, as long as I have known her – but as this was at a later time of life, perhaps one should not censure her for infidelity!  She didn’t, as some have claimed, fall in love with Mr Darcy via the film and Colin Firth’s engaging performance – she fell in love by reading the book, written by Jane Austen

Next to reading books, is the joy of writing them.  Yes, it is absorbing and engrossing to be in charge of a story, sometimes not even knowing how it will end – except that in many cases – an abrupt – back to reality – shock on trying to get your creative ‘masterpiece’ published and read by anyone other than your kind friends. Jane Austen has trouble getting her work published.  Can you believe it?  Her book Northanger Abbey was bought by a publisher for £10 but he never printed it – and when years later she tried to get the book back, the publisher insisted she pay him £10 – and she didn’t have it!  Northanger Abbey was published – but only after her death! Wonder what Jane Austen would think of her picture on the £10 note today!

Another youth actor we ‘bumped’ into is Kerry Dainton. Kerry played Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, the stage version, and is now directing the Towy Youth Actors.  She will be bringing them to Llandovery Theatre in  a Variety Show performance 20th July next.  If you would like to see her young performers, put the date in your diary – there will be a warm welcome here for you.

Horatio Nelson  June 2019

Like to contact us:  Llandoverytheatre.com    
email: jacky.barnes@btinternet.com

If you would like to read What Country Friends is This?   It is available on Amazon.

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.


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!


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!

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

From my window sill

Dear Friends.

It is not often that the Llandovery Theatre Company have a Mayor attend their Trust meeting, but Councillor Pauline Barker, Mayor of Cwmamman with her Consort John Barker, were among the gracious company of friends on Saturday 17th June 2017 at Llandovery Theatre.

Both are long term friends, for John was responsible in 1973 for driving the lorry, carrying the entire home of Simon and Jacky Barnes to Wales and offloading it on a freezing winter night into a small derelict cottage in Llandingat Without – a place so aptly named, as the cottage was without gas, electricity, water or sanitation.  The story of the first year in Wales was later a highly successful Festival play OUT OF THE FRYING PAN.  As the saying goes:  write what you know!

At the gathering The Taming of the Shrew was discussed.  This is the youth film production, and for the last ten years has sat untended in its computer.  John Barker and Chris Thomas investigated the idea of trying to rescue the film from its ‘sleep’ state, and re-edit it.  We have now great hopes of bringing this film back to life under the ministration of these two talented editors.

An interesting career note is that Beshlie Thorp – who plays Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew film, has recently completed four years at the Royal College of Music, and is about to go to the  Bristol Old Vic School to do a drama MA, and before that plays Lady Macbeth in the production of Macbeth in August in the grounds of Cardiff Castle. She first joined us with the Roald Dahl Literacy Workshops at Llandovery Theatre, when she was six!

Recording for the blind!
When Simon Barnes’ book Darkly flows the Taff was published, Richard Booth (King of Hay) read the book to his wife Hope, who is blind.  Hope responded to us saying – ‘we both loved it!’ and suggested that she hoped the book could be recorded, so other blind people could enjoy it.  Subsequently we recorded some excerpts from the book, and we plan to put these excerpts onto the Theatre Web.  But also, you should know, John and Pauline Barker (Mayor of Cwmamman) run a truly wonderful voluntary project: Ammanford Talking News for the Blind, which is distributed free to those who request it.  A disc is recorded monthly with news and editorials,  and we hope that excerpts of Simon’s book could be put on disc for the newspaper.

Discussing the future
Many ideas flowed, and it was agreed that in order to establish professional and community theatre activities on a regular basis, we needed to bring in new talent, and for that, of course,  we would need finance.  We are, therefore, embarking on a social media journey, and I, Horatio Nelson, will be at the helm.  Aiming to publicise our wonderful Theatre facilities world wide, and to enable us to make new friends  – we have set up a Twitter account – Horatio Theatre Cat @Llandotheatreco and Instagram – (horatio_theatrecat), so friends, artists and actors can contact us easily.

1993 – Rhodri Morgan M.P. opened the new bookshop and library at the Theatre.  He wrote in our visitors book:  ‘Little acorn but watch this space’.  Yes, our oak tree is now growing apace – and we are looking forward to a good and prosperous future with the help of new friends and theatre lovers. Long live Llandovery Theatre!

Horatio Nelson – theatre cat.