‘“One minute we had customers, the next minute there was no-one.”
In a lost village, blurred by redrawn borders, hidden under a crumb on the map, Bear Ridge Stores still stands. After a hundred years, the family butchers and grocers – a place for odds and ends, contraband goods, and the last petrol pump for 30 miles – is now silent. But owners John Daniel and Noni are not leaving. They are defiantly drinking the remaining whiskey and remembering good times, when everyone was on the same side and the old language shone.
Outside in the dark, a figure is making their way towards them’.
Casting has been announced for the National Theatre Wales and Royal Court Theatre co-production of ‘On Bear Ridge’, by award-winning writer Ed Thomas (House of America and Gas Station Angel, Royal Court; Hinterland/Y Gwyll BBC/S4C/Netflix). Royal Court Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone (The Cane and Cyprus Avenue, Royal Court) and Ed Thomas will co-direct this semi-autobiographical story about the places we leave behind, the indelible marks they make on us, and the unreliable memories we hold onto.
The cast will include Rakie Ayola as Noni. She is currently performing ‘Strange Fruit’ at the Bush Theatre. Previous stage credits include Hermione Granger in ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ (West End), ‘The Half God of Rainfall’ (Kiln Theatre) and ‘Leave to Remain’ (Lyric Hammersmith). On television she is best known for her long-running role as Kyla Tyson in ‘Holby City’ (BBC).
Jason Hughes will play The Captain. He returns to the Royal Court where his work has included ‘Violence’ and ‘Son’, ‘4:48 Psychosis’ and ‘A Real Classy Affair’. Other recent stage roles include ‘The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia’ (West End) and ‘Our Country’s Good’ (National Theatre). On television he played Warren in ‘This Life’ (BBC) and Detective Sergeant Ben Jones in ‘Midsomer Murders’ (ITV). Other recent TV credits include ‘Marcella’ (ITV), ‘Death in Paradise’ and ‘Three Girls’ (both BBC).
Rhys Ifans will play John Daniel. On stage he recently played the title role in ‘Exit the King’ and caused a sensation in the one-man show of ‘Protest Song’ (National Theatre). He also played the iconic role of Scrooge in ‘A Christmas Carol’ and also The Fool in ‘King Lear’ (Old Vic). Rhys’s extensive film work includes ‘Elizabeth’ (dir. Shekhar Kapur), ‘Greenberg’ (dir. Noah Baumbach), ‘Nanny McPhee’, ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Mr Nice’, ‘Anonymous’, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’, ‘Enduring Love’ and of course Richard Curtis‘ ‘Notting Hill’. He won a BAFTA for his performance as Peter Cook in ‘Not Only But Always’ and will next appear in the new comedy drama film ‘Misbehaviour’ directed by Philippa Lowethorpe and Matthew Vaughn’s latest film ‘Kingsman: The Great Game’.
The cast is completed by Sion Daniel Young as Ifan William. Sion returns to the Sherman Theatre and Royal Court following ‘Killology’. His credits for National Theatre Wales include ‘The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning’, ‘Mametz’ and ‘The Village Social’. He played leading roles in ‘War Horse’ and ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ (both West End) and last year performed in ‘Nightfall’ (Bridge Theatre). He will next appear in ‘Jellyfish’ (National Theatre). His TV roles include ‘Hinterland’/Y Gwyll BBC/S4C/Netflix also written by Ed Thomas.
‘On Bear Ridge’ will be designed by Cai Dyfan and composed by John Hardy Music, with sound design by Mike Beer and lighting design by Elliott Griggs. Edie Morris is Assistant Designer and Izzy Rabey is Emerging Director.
National Theatre Wales and Royal Court Theatre, working with Ed Thomas and the ‘On Bear Ridge’ creative team, have announced that a site-specific installation will be created on Penwyllt in the upper Swansea Valley, close to Thomas’ childhood home, bringing to life the world of the new play. They can be experienced in person by visiting the site in Wales or through a VR experience created in collaboration with Film and VR production company Cuckoo Nest. Audiences at the Sherman Theatre Cardiff and the Royal Court London will be able to experience this through a VR film that will be available to watch at both theatres making the landscape of ‘On Bear Ridge’ accessible in the centre of these busy cities.
The installations will be free to experience to anyone visiting Penwyllt between 30th August and 13th October 2019.
The installations are outdoors on an unmanned site, open to the elements and will take approximately 30 minutes to explore. Each installation is accompanied by a short multimedia track, which audiences can access via a QR code. More information on how to explore the site, and access the tracks, can be found at nationaltheatrewales.org.
Audiences attending ‘On Bear Ridge’ in Cardiff can experience the VR from 3rd – 5th October 2019 at Sherman Theatre.
Audiences attending ‘On Bear Ridge’ in London can experience the VR for the duration of the run (24 October – 23 November 2019) at the Royal Court Theatre.
The installations will temporarily exist in the landscape as fragmented remains of what was once there – a collection of lost things, half-forgotten sounds and memories, slowly sinking back into earth and rock. They will offer visitors glimpses of a vanished world, allowing them to digitally listen at a door and hear whispered voices, half-truths and unfinished stories from a way of life grown silent. A story that was never told. An act of remembering the forgotten.
‘On Bear Ridge‘ will run at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff, followed by the Royal Court in London.
Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, 20th September – 5th October – BUY TICKETS
Royal Court, London, 24th October – 23rd November – BUY TICKETS