Swansea Arena has today announced that Alice Cooper and The Cult, Diversity, Katherine Ryan and Rob Brydon will be the first shows to go on sale for the hotly anticipated new venue.
All are on general sale from 10am, Friday 17th September via swansea-arena.co.uk
This reveal is the first announcement of many for the brand-new, state-of-the-art, 3,500 capacity indoor Arena, as it maps out an incredibly exciting future with unwavering focus on bringing world class shows to Swansea.
The venue’s high profile opening headline music act is yet to be revealed, with the announcement expected in the coming weeks.
On Monday 23rd May 2022, Rock n Roll Hall of Famer Alice Cooper and rock icons The Cult will open their co-headline tour at Swansea Arena as the acclaimed stars from both sides of the Atlantic come together to create rock history.
Renowned for their unforgettable live shows, we can anticipate a dark, twisted trip through goth, psychedelia, macabre theatre and straight up rock anthems when these two giants take the stage.
Bringing the laughs to the Arena’s stage are top class comedians Rob Brydon and Katherine Ryan.
Coming to Swansea Arena on Saturday 30th April is Rob Brydon – A Night of Songs & Laughter tells Rob’s personal musical journey from South Wales to the West End and beyond.
With songs from Tom Waits to Tom Jones, and Guys and Dolls to Elvis (and almost everything in between), audiences can expect Rob’s usual warmth and humour as he regales them with hilarious tales from his distant and recent past.
On Friday 13th May, star of Netflix smash hit series The Duchess (along with two global Netflix comedy specials: In Trouble and Glitter Room), comedian and TV’s Katherine Ryan makes a hugely welcome return to the stage with her brand-new live show Katherine Ryan: Missus. Having previously denounced partnership, Katherine has since married her first love… accidentally.
A lot has changed for everyone, and we can look forward to hearing Katherine Ryan’s always-hilarious new perspectives on life, love, and what it means to be Missus.
The first entertainment act to be announced at Swansea Arena is world renowned dance group Diversity, who have added an extra date to their ‘Connected’ 2022 tour due to phenomenal demand. They will come to Swansea on Tuesday 7th June 2022, on a tour that now takes in a staggering 79 shows, their biggest ever tour to date.
Created by Diversity’s lead member Ashley Banjo, ‘Connected’ centres around the world of social media, the internet, and the digital era we now live in, but more importantly how this connects us all.
General Manager, Lisa Mart says: “We’re absolutely over the moon to reveal some of the amazing artists that we are bringing to Swansea Arena next year. These are some of the most high profile music, comedy and entertainment acts out there, and for most, aside of course from the wonderful South Wales born Rob Brydon, this will be their first show in Swansea.
“This is the beginning of something truly special; we will be sharing news of further shows over the coming weeks and months, including our yet to be revealed opening act. Watch this space for further announcements!”
Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, said: “We’re delighted that the arena tenants and operators ATG have already secured acts of this quality for Swansea Arena. Many of the acts have never performed in Swansea before, so this shows the impact our new arena development is having.
“This will help build excitement towards the announcement of many more acts in coming weeks and months, including the main opening act for Swansea Arena.
“At the heart of the city’s emerging new £135m Copr Bay district, the new arena will be a world class destination for local people and visitors to the city. It’s one feature of a multi-million pound regeneration story unfolding across Swansea that will create well-paid jobs for local people and attract significant further investment as Swansea is transformed into one of the UK’s best cities to live, work, study and visit.”
Swansea Arena is expected to host up to 200 performances across music, comedy, esports, sport and conference events for an estimated 230,000 visitors each year.
The development of the Arena will be a significant landmark within Swansea’s city centre and its £135 million transformational Copr Bay Phase One project, which is being delivered by the Council working alongside development manager RivingtonHark. Once complete, it will comprise the brand-new 3,500 capacity indoor arena and conference centre – next to Swansea Marina – as well as new independent restaurants, city centre apartments, a 1.1-acre coastal park, two new multi-storey car parks, and a new ‘gateway’ landmark pedestrian and cyclist bridge over Oystermouth Road, to provide a seamless passageway connecting the revived city-centre to Swansea’s Marina and its famed coastline.
Swansea City Centre is one of the largest urban transformations currently being delivered in Europe; over £1billion is being invested across the city, allowing Swansea to realise its potential to be one of the most vibrant places to live, work, visit and study in the UK.
The arena also forms part of the Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District project which is being part-funded by the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City Deal.
Carmarthenshire author’s Carmarthen Crime series hits the bookshelves
Ferryside author John Nicholl is celebrating the re-release of his Carmarthenshire-based detective books as the Carmarthen Crime Series.
His new publisher, Boldwood Books – winner of Publisher of the Year in the 2022 Independent Publishing Awards – has repackaged the four books with a strong emphasis on the Carmarthenshire setting and covers depicting local locations including Carmarthen, Dryslwyn Castle and the Tywi Estuary.
The first two books, The Carmarthen Murders and The Tywi Estuary Killings, are on sale now, with the other two – The Castle Beach Murders and The Dryslwyn Castle Killings to follow soon.
The books focus on DI Gareth Gravel, an accomplished, old-school policeman affectionately known as Grav, who feels out of step with the modern world as he approaches retirement.
“Grav is something of a legend within the West Wales Police Force, liked and respected by the rank and file but not so much by the top brass due to his sharp tongue and a willingness to bend the rules to get results,” says Nicholl, who lives in Ferryside.
“Grav is overweight, loves rugby, drinks too much, particularly since the loss of his wife, and is struggling with chronic health issues. The job matters to him, victims matter to him, and he often goes the extra mile to protect the vulnerable victims of crime, particularly women and children, who he has a strong inclination to protect.”
The books draw on Nicholl’s own experience as a police officer and then as a child protection officer in Carmarthenshire. He started writing fiction after his psychologist recommended it as a way to process traumas he had witnessed during his career, which left him with PTSD.
He self-published his first book and it became an online bestseller; he went on to get signed by a publisher and now has 11 bestsellers behind him. His focus is on crime and the darker side of human nature, with a strong empathy for victims of abuse.
“The four-book Carmarthen Crime Series, while fictional, draws on my real-life experiences as a police officer and child protection social worker,” he says. “I hope this gives the stories a gritty realism readers will enjoy.”
He adds that he is delighted to see the books republished as the Carmarthen Crime series.
“I grew up, live and write in west Wales, and so I’m delighted my publisher has given the books a strong Welsh identity, with stunning covers featuring some of the beautiful locations I know so very well,” he says.
Dream role for Egypt Centre’s new head
A childhood visit to a museum not only triggered Ken Griffin’s lifelong passion for Egyptology, it has also led to him landing his perfect job.
He has just been appointed curator of the Swansea University’s award-winning Egypt Centre and is now in charge of its unique collection of antiquities.
Belfast-born Dr Griffin says he was captivated by Egyptology after a trip to Ulster Museum when he was six.
“They have a mummy on display called Takabuti, and I used to get my dad to take me there every Sunday. I wanted to know more about the country, and I finally went there on my 16th birthday. That really cemented the idea of doing Egyptology, I was totally obsessed,” he said.
Dr Griffin started volunteering at the museum while he was a first year Egyptology student back in October 2000. After finishing his degree, he went on to become a Saturday workshop assistant while studying for his MA and PhD in Egyptology.
After a spell as a lecturer, he hit the headlines when he discovered a depiction associated with the pharaoh Hatshepsut – one of just five women to have ruled ancient Egypt – on object he had taken out of the storeroom for a handling session.
He said: “This job is fantastic and often there are discoveries every day. We have about 6,000 objects in total, but we only have room for about a third of our collection to be on display. I have seen every object but often you see something you haven’t spotted before; particularly as new technology becomes available.”
Back in 2020, three of the museum’s mummified animals were examined using X-ray micro CT scanning, which generates high-resolution 3D images. The process provided unprecedented detail about the animals’ lives – and deaths – more than 2,000 years ago.
During his time at the museum Dr Griffin has been actively involved in teaching Egyptology through the University’s adult education programme and he is passionate about ensuring the museum’s collection is as accessible as possible.
Next month he will oversee the installation of a new display case which will also create a temporary exhibition space to be used by Swansea University students.
Already a favourite destination for schools, the museum hosts regular workshops and events but when the pandemic forced it to close its doors, Dr Griffin set up virtual courses via zoom.
“We weren’t open to the public at all for 18 months and the gift shop and schools are usually our main source of income. But the online teaching really took off and over the two years we were able to bring in £50,000 of essential funds through that.
“They will definitely continue. Some of the online courses have been attended by 180 people whereas if I held them here it would be a maximum of 15. It has been an unbelievable success.
“Attendees have come from more than 50 countries in six continents – we haven’t had anyone join us from Antarctica yet!”
Dr Griffin also emphasised the continuation of the museum’s traditional activities, assisted by its band of more than 100 dedicated volunteers, and his desire to get more students, in particular, through its doors.
Another of his long-term aim is for the Centre to twin with a museum in Egypt to exchange ideas and knowledge.
He added: “I first came here as student and I have really been part of the Egypt Centre ever since, it is a very special place. I wake up and look forward to coming to work every single day. It is always exciting.
“It is very rare for a curator of Egyptology post to come up so to get this job really does show that dreams can come true.”
Lead image: Dr Ken Griffin among exhibits in the storeroom of Swansea University’s Egypt Centre. (Image: Swansea University)
A night to celebrate all that is Grand about The GRAND
A host of well-known names and familiar faces will come together on Swansea’s best-loved stage to celebrate 125 years of Swansea Grand Theatre on Saturday 23rd July.
Places change over the years, civic buildings come and go and the landscape of a city can become unrecognisable over a relatively short time.
Then there are the buildings that stand the test time and become so ingrained in the life of a place that you cannot imagine that it was ever not there. For people in Swansea there are few places of which that is truer than Swansea Grand Theatre.
For 125 years this pastel-hued beauty of a building has brought talent from across the globe to Swansea, and to celebrate this milestone, resident company Grand Ambition has brought together a host of Welsh talent to say thank you to the theatre and to inspire a new generation of audiences.
On Saturday 23rd July, Grand Ambition is producing a night filled with music, dance, drama, song and entertainment from a star-studded line up, including Ria Jones, Mike Doyle, Kev Johns, Mose1time, Ify Iwobi, Valley Rock Voices, Karl Morgan & Who’s Molly?, Mal Pope, Crossing Borders, Hayley Gallivan, Bronwen Lewis, Steve Balsamo and Lee David
As well as established artists, a debut performance from The Rising Stars Theatre Co and the brilliant Fluellen Theatre Co, the Gala will also showcase young talent from the city, including resident companies Harry’s Youth Theatre, Mellin Theatre Arts and many, many more.
With a programme combining West-End show stoppers with Dylan Thomas, rap and powerful choral numbers, the Grand Gala promises to be a joyous celebration of Swansea.
Grand Ambition is a new and exciting creative collective based at The Grand Theatre with a focus on developing audiences by telling Swansea stories and developing young and existing creative talent.
The company has been created in collaboration with Swansea City Council and Swansea based professional artists – Richard Mylan, Steve Balsamo, Michelle McTernan and Christian Patterson.
We asked them to tell us what inspired them to produce the Gala.
Michelle explained: “We all started our careers here at the Grand. It has a very special place in all our hearts. The fact that we have the opportunity to create “in house” engagements and work in this beautiful building is an absolute honour. Swansea Grand Theatre has stood the test of time and served our people and its city when she needed it the most. She has proved
to be a great institution and we must celebrate her in all her glory. The 125th birthday celebration will be a night to say thank you to her for always being there for us.”
“I feel now more than ever we should celebrate this theatre having been there for us for the last 125 years. We must honour its past and it’s incredibly bright future. The talent that we have on stage for this one-off event will reflect just that” actor and director Richard Mylan continued.
Musician Steve Balsamo is the third director of Grand Ambition and will perform on the night. He said “The Grand has always loomed large in my life and it’s always been a thrill to perform here. It’s so important to mark this 125th birthday and to pay tribute to this beautiful building, to remember the past and look forward to the future. Personally, to be able to sing my own song on this special night and to leave a thumb print on the legacy of The Grand will be an absolute honour”.
Directing the event is writer, director and actor Christian Patterson. “It is an honour to be directing this Gala in the theatre that inspired me to be an actor. The Grand Theatre has graced Swansea for 125 years! It has entertained, delighted & enthralled people every single day of its existence and will continue to do so for many, many years to come. It will be a joy to
commemorate its glorious past and look toward its glittering future. Happy Birthday & long live Swansea Grand Theatre!” he enthused.
That future is fired by a new desire to connect with communities across Swansea. Cabinet Minister for Regeneration, Robert Francis-Davies commented, “These are exciting times for our city. Swansea Grand Theatre has always played a key role at the centre of Swansea’s cultural life, offering lots of opportunities for creativity for all of our communities.”
Recently appointed manager of the theatre, Grant MacFarlane, summed it up nicely: “I am immensely proud to be associated with the Grand Theatre and to be a part of its future. The Grand speaks directly to people’s emotions, is inextricably linked with the fondest and most vivid memories of Swansea’s citizens, and is at the heart of the city and its people”.
Tickets for the Grand Gala are available now for Swansea Grand Theatre box office, online, by phone and in person. Full details can be found at swanseagrand.co.uk/BirthdayGala. All line up announcements and updates will be available on Grand Ambition’s social media channels.
The History of The Grand Theatre: A timeline
125 years at the very heart of Swansea, thrilling countless generations of theatregoers along the way from Shakespeare to Pantomime.
1897: Mouillot and Morell, two entrepreneur actor/managers, seized an opportunity to build a Theatre in Swansea. They purchased the former Drill Hall in Singleton Street, demolished it and employed William Hope – an experienced Theatre architect to design The Grand – it is the only surviving example of his work. The estimated capacity was 2,500.
1897: Swansea Grand Theatre was opened by the opera star Adelina Patti. She arrived at Swansea train station and boarded an open top horse and cart, the streets were lined with all her fans. It was a truly grand event.
Despite early success the Grand Theatre has had a chequered history.
1930: Swansea Grand Theatre was a full time repertory theatre.
January 1933: the Theatre closed for six months because of the flu epidemic. The audiences seem to miss the regularity of attending and after this break, there was a noticeable decline.
1933: The theatre became a “Cine Variety Theatre”
1934: The theatre closed. It lay empty for a while with just occasional use
1947: Bought by Captain W.E.Willis
1950s: The struggles continued. The problem – apart from television, was the public investment and civic support that was happening for theatre in Cardiff. The privately owned Grand was falling behind in terms of attractions and the physical state of the building. It was
showing its age.
1957: Actor/director – John Chilvers presented a successful repertory season at the Grand. And eventually became the manager and stayed for over 25 years.
1970: Vivian Ellicott the Front of House Manager wrote:- “We have just reported on our first year’s business. The actual loss to the ratepayers has been £5.900 – chicken-feed! Thanks to John Chilvers, the figures are healthy”.
1978: At the end of a 10 year lease, the local council bought the Grand – making it Swansea’s civic theatre.
1982-1986: £5million worth of renovation and building was carried out. The impressive new look Grand re-opened on 17th December 1986 with the pantomime Aladdin.
1999: A new arts wing was added housing a new box office, studio theatre (capacity 150), exhibition area, rehearsal rooms and café.
2020: The Grand Theatre stage became a testing centre for Covid19 during the pandemic until Aug 2021 with the public entering through the scene dock doors where sets along with their builders and technicians would normally have entered.
2020/21: The Multicultural Hub was built and became home to (RCC) Race Council Cymru, Chinese in Wales and The African Community Centre.
2022: The Theatre has a new manager Mr Grant McFarlane. Grant will undertake the leadership of the new manager for Swansea Grand Theatre and The Brangwyn Hall, in conjunction with the Council’s Cultural Services’ management team.
2022: Grand Ambition become the theatre’s resident production company. Swansea Grand Theatre is steeped in history and the future looks bright.
Heres to the next 125 years!
(All images: Swansea Council)
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