A new play has recently opened at Jack Studio Theatre in London. Hang on, before you point out that we are in fact South Wales Life, let me tell you this new piece has Wales written all over it. Quite literally in fact as the writer, MARI LLOYD grew up in the Rhondda Valley. The stars of STILL HERE are also rooted here in South Wales. EMMA KALER is a Welsh/Indian actor from Cardiff and PHILLIP JOHN JONES spent three years studying at the university of South Wales, we may be wrong, but think he could be a Bridgend boy.
The storyline focuses on two young Welsh adults combating their mental health struggles through boxing. The themes explored are extremely current and resonate with a wide audience.
The play deals young people and their dreams, growing up, the taking of exams and leaving secondary education, the miscommunication with parents, the choices they must be make about their futures, and how they deal with the pressures of becoming an adult.
The action is set in the present-day and starts when Yasmin (EMMA KALER) arrives at a comprehensive school in the Welsh valleys, now living locally with her Nan after being excluded from a far-away Cardiff private school.
Yasmin is most certainly clever but has a potty mouth too and is renowned for starting an argument anywhere. She lands at the new school just in time to take her A levels but not before fellow student Rhys (PHILLIP JOHN JONES) is caught in the fallout.
The story is all about people not being in the place they really want to be. Rhys just wants to box while his dad just wants a job. Yasmin is living with her nan while her mother wants to be looking over the plains of Uganda.
The children can’t speak to their parents, and their parents don’t understand how their children are feeling.
In this moving and sharply funny new play, we see the world through the eyes of two 18-year-olds, as they try to comprehend the actions of their parents and begin to understand that the choices of today can stay with you for the rest of your life.
As we mentioned, playwright MARI LLOYD grew up in the Rhondda Valley and now lives in Merseyside. After working for the NHS for 20 years, Mari began writing. Her plays for theatre include Evidence for Lantern Writers Showcase Boss New Plays 5, The Match at Lantern Theatre and Last Tango at St. Leonards at Unity Theatre, both for Liverpool Write Now Festival; Three Women at Manchester 24:7 Festival; Bread and Circuses at Lantern Theatre; Looking out for Jack as part of Lantern Writers Showcase and longlisted for the Papatango New Writing Prize; and Elegy for Liverpool Scriptshop at Liverpool Fringe Festival. She stays grounded and sane by engaging with a local boxing gym.
JULIA STUBBS is a director and producer of theatre, new writing and short films and the Artistic Director of 20 South Street, a creative home for collaboration between artists.
STILL HERE is on at the Jack Studio Theatre in London till the 25th of March. If you’re near or heading there, we can highly recommend a visit. For more details, and tickets, go HERE.
On Friday 24th March you can stay after the show to hear writer Mari Lloyd, actors Phillip John Jones and Emma Kaler, and director Julia Stubbs talk about the production and how theatre can explore the rich sense of identity and culture within communities.