Aberystwyth Arts Centre’s 50th anniversary will be marked with five days of performances.

From 3 to 8 May, ABERETWM will take over the arts centre and areas throughout Aberystwyth in celebration of Aberystwyth’s unique creative DNA and the arts centre’s 50th anniversary.

Renowned interdisciplinary artist Marc Rees has created the free event, which reimagines an ancient local myth and takes audiences on a journey across the town centre. ABERETWM promises to overlay forgotten heritage with contemporary issues to illuminate a pathway to a positive future, and will culminate in an immersive musical concerto.

The performance will combine digital as well as live, in-person events across multiple locations, and is centred on the mythical folklore of Cantre’r Gwaelod, a legendary ancient sunken kingdom off Cardigan Bay. These experiential happenings will captivate audiences of all ages and showcase the talent within the local community, with many performers from local schools and groups including Hijinx Academy taking part.

Louise Amery, deputy director of Aberystwyth Arts Centre, said: “We’re really excited to be working with Marc and a huge team of artists, performers and creatives on Aberetwm, and seeing so many members of local communities take part in the project across the week. As the arts centre celebrates its 50th anniversary it’s a great project to reflect the last five decades of work, but also to look forward to the next 50 years with an event that is centred in Aberystwyth.”

An extraordinary and until recently, little-known piece of history linked to Aberystwyth also features in the event’s narrative, honouring Annie Hughes-Griffiths, Mary Ellis and Elined Prys, the three local peace campaigners behind the Women of Wales for a World Without War petition. In 1923, the trio walked the length and breadth of Wales gathering 390,000 signatures, said to have amassed to seven miles of paper sheets, that they placed in a trunk of welsh oak and travelled to the US to present to congress to demand world peace and ask the American government to join the League of Nations. After years of campaigning and attracting national news, the historic trunk has this month made its successful transatlantic journey home to Wales.

Also, TV presenter and dance and movement artist Eddie Ladd will lead a ritual wearing an exact replica of the lilac jumpsuit worn by Pembrokeshire activist Thalia Campbell who played a pivotal role in the globally documented 1980’s peace protests against nuclear weapons, establishing the Greenham Common World Peace Camps.

Marc said: “It’s such an honour to have been invited to create an event to mark such a milestone moment. Aberystwyth Arts Centre is an institution integral to the creative heartbeat of Aberystwyth and the surrounding area, that has been providing cultural and community-based activity for half a century. The centre and the town have resonance for me as it’s where, over 30 years that I met the late, great artists, Mike Pearson and Cliff McLucas, who were ‘Brith Gof’, the pioneering Welsh Physical Theatre company who had a profound effect on my creative foundation and trajectory. So ABERETWM also honours them and their influence on me and countless others.”

Follow @AberystwythArts on social media, #ABERETWM or visit www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk for more information, but events will include a sound, light and multi-sensory installation in the castle grounds on Thursday, 4 and Friday, 5 May; a procession on Friday; a film screening on Saturday with captions, BSL and audio description; a performance on Aberystwyth seafront at 3.30pm on Sunday, 7 May; and, on Monday, 8 May, talks, art exhibitions, films, performances and a concert.

Aber y Aberoedd in the Great Hall is a new libretto written by esteemed Welsh Poet Mererid Hopwood accompanied by a brand-new concerto for multiple soloists by Claire Victoria Roberts, and featuring the musical talents of Philomusica of Aberystwyth with Sinfonia Cymru, the choir of Ceredigion Music Service, the Elizabethan Madrigal Society, Cerys Havana and Owen Shiers.

Aberystwyth Arts Centre has approached ABERETWM with the aim of making as much of the content as accessible as possible, and all activity should be physically accessible to those with impaired mobility or use wheelchairs. If you have any access needs, contact the arts centre on 01970 623232 or email [email protected].

Production manager, Jacob Gough and artistic director, Marc Rees
Production manager, Jacob Gough and artistic director, Marc Rees (Aberystwyth Arts Centre)