Centre for the performing and visual arts in Anglesey, North Wales
The Saturday Art Club for children was started very early on by artist Sue Griffiths, and it has been run for last few years by artist Jacquie Myrtle. The aim is for children to have fun working with wide range of art mediums and for them to become familiar with visiting the Centre. Often they are able to experiment with materials and styles they might not get a chance to experience at school. These sessions complement the longer holiday workshop sessions.
Since 1994 the Rep has always been the most visible of the Ucheldre societies, with productions mounted two or three times each year. It was founded by Myrrha Stanford-Smith (1928 – 2021). When she first saw the Centre, she was captivated. ‘It was Belmont, Macbeth’s castle, the Rialto to my imagination’, she recalls. Determined to do Shakespeare in Holyhead, she began with a memorable performance of The Tempest in the amphitheatre — memorable partly because the first night was a tempest. Since then, the Rep has put on two very different versions of Under Milk Wood, works by Oscar Wilde, Chekhov, Noel Coward, and Alan Ayckbourn, and several others by Shakespeare, including a magical production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Jan Thomas directed a youth theatre. Some of the Rep’s young members, including Ben Crystal, Eiriona Jackson, Celyn (Barry) Jones, and Charlotte Kay, went on into the world of the theatre. Trefor Stockwell took over the company for a while, but Myrrha is still going strong, with the direction of some productions being taken by other Rep members, notably Peter Schofield, and Brian Davies who sadly now have passed away. The current Director is Tom Wallwork. Tom was trained for the theatre at the Central School of Speech and Drama, London and has worked in the theatre for many years.
The Ucheldre Rep, as it is now called, continues to strive to be as professional as possible, bringing a variety of quality plays to the Centre. The drama goup are a friendly lot all working together as a team to bring you the very best in entertainment. New members to the Rep are always welcome. There is no fee and no previous esperience necessary as professional training is at hand.
The Rep covers all aspects of the theatre, from working behind the scenes to performing on stage. If you feel that you would like to join, please get in touch through the Ucheldre box-office on 01407 763361 or email: .
The jazz club started in 1996, directed by Arthur Riley; John Meredith Williams took over in 1998 and Chris Burne in 2005, who writes:
“Anything up to about twenty of us meet once a month in the restaurant, and sometimes in the main hall — comfortable setting, plenty of coffee, nice atmosphere, good acoustics. We have a small group which plays each time, and visiting players are always welcome. After a few numbers, someone plays a disc or two, or gives a talk on some jazz topic. We have a broad range of musical tastes, mainly modern, but we welcome anyone who has an interest, and we’re particularly keen to foster an enthusiasm for jazz in young people. It’s a great social as well as a musical occasion, and it well suits the informal ambience of the Centre.”
CLUBS AND SOCIETIES FROM THE PAST
The Music Club was the first Ucheldre Club, led from the outset by Marian Leeming, who writes:
“It is a fortnightly forum for the appreciation of classical music in all its forms. In particular, we want to exploit the full range of the Centre’s superb sound reproduction equipment and the fantastic acoustics of the main hall. Each meeting focuses on a particular musical theme or composer. We commemorate composers’ anniversaries. We preview major forthcoming local musical events. And from time to time we mount Holy Island Discs, where local personalities make their choice of recordings with which to be marooned, and explain what the pieces mean to them.
We have a core group of some twenty members, whose numbers are frequently swelled by friends and guests. I present the majority of the programmes, but other members often take over to share their musical passions. Someone always provides the musical and historical context of what we are listening to. We have two ‘resident pianists’ — Jill Withinshaw and myself — who support the programmes with live illustrations, and sometimes give full solo and duet performances. Our aim is simple: to create a friendly and intimate atmosphere within which we can listen to the world’s most wonderful music — recorded or live — without interruption or distraction.”
The Literary Society was started by Fiona Owen in 1995. Charles Parry-Jones took over in 2000, and he writes:
“Over the years a nucleus of perhaps ten to fifteen of us have grown to be familiar with each other’s work, be it poetry or prose. Meeting fortnightly, either on a Friday lunchtime for two hours or on a Saturday for longer, a recognized writer is booked to give a reading and/or a workshop in creative writing. Discussion continues in the excellent restaurant, which has the feeling of a college refectory. The programme’s continuity and the ambience of the former chapel have been attractive, and have allowed members to grow in stature as writers.”
Fiona Owen resumed directorship when Charles Parry-Jones sadly passed away.
Gorwel Owen started Clybod in 2004. He writes:
“Although I enjoy folk sessions, rock and roll, and listening to a range of mechanical noises, I felt that there was room to create, locally, a quiet performance environment, where the focus was on attentive listening. I was keen that the club should be open to all musical ‘abilities’ and styles of music. The only ‘rule’ is that nothing gets connected to mains electricity, primarily to keep things quiet and to encourage close listening. From fragile beginnings with a handful of performers, Clybod has developed and expanded to encompass many styles of music. We meet at two o’clock on the first Sunday of each month. Reviewing things here provides an opportunity to thank the Centre for providing a home for the session, and also the performers for sustained support with their voices, instruments, and ears.”
Fiona Owen started Rhwng in 2005. She writes:
“The name (‘between’ in Welsh) refers to what is shared ‘between us’ as people and also to that often elusive ‘between’ place, between opposites/ polarities, which the various wisdom traditions see as the most subtle, profoundly alive, and richly meaningful place within us. The exploration of ‘rhwng’ encompasses an ongoing, interdisciplinary programme of talks, workshops, discussion groups, and performances. The spirit of the Society is one of open-minded enquiry, aiming to explore what it means to be sentient, creative beings embedded in mysterious life. Rhwng has a resonance that defies easy definition and yet seems potent. It came to me via the Welsh-language poet-playwright Aled Jones Williams, in his book Oerfel Gaeaf Duw (God’s Cold Winter). A second influence is Satish Kumar, the editor of Resurgence magazine, who encourages his readers to think in terms of ‘soil, soul and society’. Rhwng is a forum for the kind of ‘relational philosophy’ espoused by Kumar, where we develop response — ability through conversation (‘to turn with’), because we are interested (inter ‘between’, esse ‘to be’). We exist as a community of relationships, and through these we learn about ourselves and the world.”