Mam Reviews – Far Old Line Festival, Cwmni Theatr Arad Goch

On Tuesday the 27th of July, my daughter Elsi was celebrating her 5th birthday (boo hoo hoo…where did that go?!) She had her birthday party the previous Saturday- she chose a pirate theme this year, rather different from the princess theme last year! 35 pirates and their parents attended to celebrate in true pirate style (pheeew!)

For her actual birthday, I decided to take Elsi and her friend Gwenllian down to the prom in Aberystwyth to sample some of the activities organised as part of Cwmni Theatr Arad Goch’s Far Old Line Festival. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s taking place between the 21st of July and the 5th of August, and the aim is to bring communities and different groups of people together to celebrate Ceredigion’s culture through a series of artistic performances and events.

I received the full programme from the school so I knew that there was a wide variety of events taking place from workshops to gigs and performances, around 60 in total, and all free from what I can see – bonus! The children’s activities were also an opportunity to learn about the tale of Cantre’r Gwaelod – the sunken 100 – another bonus!

My plan was to take Elsi and Gwenllian to the story session in the great old story tree on the prom. I had seen several photos of children enjoying this session on Facebook and I was looking forward to sit inside the giant tree trunk with the girls and enjoy a story – but the weather man had promised rain, so unfortunately, we were informed that it was cancelled…even though it was sunny! Damn you Mr weather man!

Fortunately, the other activities continued on the prom and Elsi, Gwenllian and all the other children who were present, really enjoyed themselves! What was going on? Well firstly, a chalk art workshop with artist Elin Crowley, who started the session with an introduction to the history of Cantre’r Gwaelod and Elsi was mesmerised! The children were then given giant chalks to create the characters on the prom and Elsi was raring to draw Gwyddno and Seithenyn!

As well as the chalk workshop, there were giant games to play with, all created from wood and very striking; noughts and crosses, building bricks, puzzles and a skeleton of a house/ building which hadn’t been completed or maybe demolished? The children were inspired to build and create all sorts of interesting things here and it was fantastic to hear them discussing ideas, problem solving and working together to build the roof, the floor…before turning it into an ice cream shop and a café…I love their imaginations!

Time flies when you’re having fun and unfortunately there was no time to stay for the circus skills workshop, but we did enjoy watching the No Fit State Circus crew walking up and down the prom on their stilts, before returning home to continue the birthday celebrations with Nain and Taid!

If you’re visiting Aberystwyth before the 5th of August, visit the festival website to see what’s on; www.henlinellbell.cymru and let’s hope that Mr weather man doesn’t ruin your plans! Thank you Arad Goch for the fun and free activities and for a bringing the prom to life! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see more events like these taking place all across Wales, in order to entertain and educate the locals and the visitors about our history and culture?

By Heulwen Davies, Mam Cymru.

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