Cheryl Beer

Cheryl Beer
Award Winning Creative Director making social change through the mediums of sound, story & mantra

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Oh My Giddy Aunts!


Oh my giddy aunts, I've been editing the Fusion Inspire films and watching them grow into a collection rather than individual pieces and it is quite honestly like looking into the inside of my head!
Watching the films grow from clips with the songs that have grown from ideas with the narrative of
the developing story line ... WOW!

The whole has always been in my head but to see it coming to life now as I put away my writer, then director hat and pull out my producer one ...
Not long now and my performance hat will have to be brushed off along with my Artistic Director one and the live performances pulled into shape ...
Truthfully, I didn't expect to be quite so overwhelmed. I suppose because I have been doing things in pieces I haven't quite realised the overwhelming number of people who have taken part, how they have trusted me and come out of their comfort zones to make something created from within myself ... to be shared with them during the tour but also to be shared with YOU!

Only one thing, I wish I had better technical skills. I am pushing all boundaries creatively and my computer is almost on meltdown.
She sighs and says, 'Sorry, that's one edit too many. I did warn you last time that if you didn't save, I'd have to spit the whole lot out.'
And spit she does! Right back into my face reminding me that I am so engrossed in the creation that I forget the obvious ...
I should write this on a sign and stick it on the top of the computer! But even then I probably wouldn't remember because I am too wrapped up in re-living the dolphins surfacing a foot away from me, or more than 50 children lost in Tai Chi, or the darkness of the castle dungeons, or the cows moving behind the street dancer, or the seas waves caressing the actor's feet, or the pearlesque wings of the dancers in the sunlight, or the steam of the Gwilli Train billowing, or the mirror shots in Dylan Thomas bedroom at Cwmdonkin Drive or the ukulele players dressed in costume or the ... or the ... or the ...

Right now, I have just recorded the background track for the final song in the production Chasing Circles with no vocals so that I can fuse it with the welsh language voices for the bi-lingual Arts Installation to go with the production. And as I sit here typing, I can hear the computer generated music I composed, cut up with my Djembe and ukuele .. now with a beautiful solo on ukuele laid down by Jeff Beer. He's mixing it upstairs in the studio.

This week I've got Heather Summers coming in to lay down fiddle on dance of the ribbons and Mandy Painting to lay down some piano ...
 played back the films that are finished in the edited sequence that makes them whole to Jeff today. He actually had tears in his eyes! I was so taken aback! We have been working together for over 25 years and I can tell you this hand on heart, Jeff doesn't do tears in his eyes! Me, I am an open book. Whatever I'm feeling is what you get there and then, Jeff is a quiet soul and doesn't let his feelings leak usually.
'Oh my giddy aunts, Jeff,' I said, 'Are they tears?' and they were! Not like rolling down his face or anything, just eyes filled up type tears.
'That is some body of work, love,' he replied.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Singing with DOLPHINS


What an absolutely mind blowing and life changing experience singing with dolphins is!!!!
Thanks to Sea Watch Foundation I have a wonderful collection of recordings of dolphin signature whistles and echo location to include into the msuci for the production.
Thanks to Ceredigion Wildlife I have had the most AMAZING experiences at sea dolphin watching on thier survey boats with Skipper Steve Harltey and lsitening to them 'sing' with Sarah Perry, Science Officer. It's enough to make you want to pack your bags and live in New Quay forever ....
I got absolutely LOADS of footage and wiull be incorporating this into the filmscapes. Janet Baxter, Official photographer and I are doing a creative exchange .. I will write some musci for her photo's as a movie and she will allow me to use some of her pictures for the production. Also Lyndon Lomax very kindly sent me photo's from our boat adventure too. Thanks so much to Ceredigion Wildlife and teh 'friends of' for a fabulous time.
Just as an aside, did you know that when you spend 9 hours on a boat you can't walk straight when you get off!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Getting into the beat!


Taran were due to join us tonight for a recording session. They took part in the film shoot for 'Rock and a hard place' at Arthur's Stone so I really wanted them to play on the recorded sound  track but it wasn't ment to be ... 3 of the 5 musicians were ill (Get well soon folks)
The sound engineer (Jeff Beer) had set eveything up and had booked the evening to record so ...

I did the recording myself, layering 3 drum patterns .. really enjoyed it!
So did my puppy, Maisy!

Fusion Retreat: Night Time in New Quay: Film 4

Fusion Inspire Film 3: Chatting with Cheryl!

Fusion Inspire Retreat: Film 2

Fusion Inspire Retreat in New Quay: Film 1


This is my first little film giving an insight into what I got up to last week in New Quay on
Fusion Inspire Retreat

Audience Inclusion


Had a great meeting with the Area Disability Arts Officer for Disability Arts Cymru, Rachel Stelmach.
I asked her for advice regarding audience inclusion.
People keep asking me 'who is your production aimed at' I reply 'a family audience' and then they ask me why I have gone to creative lengths in making the production accessible, at least on some level, to people who are deaf or have a visual impairment. They ask ... so is it a disability production. As a woman with a disability, that tickles me. No, Fusion Inspire is not funded as a 'disability' production but in my view ... All productions should consider access issues.
Funny isn't it, we all get it that the arts should be in buildings that people will be able to access in a wheelchair. So why should it be a surprise if I try to make integral to the performance, aspects that ensure someone with visual impairment or deafness can access my work?
In short, the production is for EVERYONE! and I want to consider some options that enable everyone to get some joy from it on some level!
I asked Rachel for the most cost effective ways of ensuring inclusion for those audience members who are deaf or with visual impairment and we have come up with these:
For those with a visual impairment:
I am already looking into aroma therapy to envoke coastline acqua smells, but Rachel suggested access to a recording that describes what is happening on the films. I will record them spoken word in the studio, save them as MP3's. These can be offered to people and downloaded on line in advance of the showings. I'll also take a few walkmans incase people come and have forgotten to order/download them.
For those who are deaf
I was already looking into having a qualified sign language /performer for those who use sign language as a form of communication but I just can't afford it ... Rachel suggested a powerpoint that runs alongside the Films with the lyrics. She has a package that brings up letters like an old type writer. I love that idea. I was thinking that the old map that Dafydd finds washed up on the beach of West Wales could be the background for it, but at the weekend I went on a 9 hour Dolphin Survey recording signature whistles and echo location. On the way back to dry land, I got some wicked pictures of the sunset, so I'm thinking it may be a good idea to use these instead.
So, you see, there are very easy ways to make the creative content accessible without any compromise to the overall effect of the production and without costing lots of money! Why don't you look at ways of developing audience inclusion too!
Here's a link to Disability Arts Cymru

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Ukulele and Guitar Chords

Following my Fusion Inspire Film Shoot at
The Tin Shed Experience in Laugharn
5 of the lads from Swansea Ukulele Group
have formed a group called Uke-aholics
and they will be learning 3 of the tracks from my Fusion Inspire: the dragon tree production
to perform live with me during the tour
in Jan and Feb 2013 
If you are interested to know the chords they are learning then you can follow this link to my facebook photo album...

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Funny Old World! Stumbling Upon a Sculpture


It's a funny old world!

I've been thinking about Dai Collage's drift wood bench and struggling to get someone to make the body of the bench before it is decorated ...

... and then I was passing a garage on the way home today where I remember seeing some amazing hand made benches months ago.

When I got there, they were sold out but the Shop Assistant gave me the phone number of the man who makes them.

When I rang him tonight turns out that he is Simon Wilkins .. one of the 2 artists responsible for the Abertillery Installation ... the enormous sculpture commemorating the colliery disaster in Six Bells, as well as many other well known pieces.

We had a chat about Fusion Inspire and he is now making my bench with locally sourced eco and recycled drift woods for my installation.
WOW! I am blown away at the treasures hidden here in West Wales! It really is a truly beautiful and inspirational place which is why it draws so many creatives and artists. I feel very blessed indeed to be a small part in the patchwork of creativity scattered across this coastline.
You can see pictures of Simon's work on his facebook page. Here's a link:

Catching Big Dreams


Had a FABULOUS catch up with my
Dream Catcher; Sam Collins.
The willow is now ready and at our meeting Sam said that she can make a MASSIVE dream catcher which is very exciting!
She was talking almost wagon wheel size! WOW!
Imagine the dream catcher hanging in the Gallery with my Welsh Language installation of
Dai Collage on the drfitwood bench!
It's all coming together folks!

Tai Chi Catch Up

How fabulous to see the wonderful Teena Gould today before she moves away to Scotland!
We had a catch up to see if Teena can come back to lead the children in Tai Chi adaptation for the performance of Fusion Inspire: the dragon tree in St.David's Cathedral as part of the Tour in February 2013.
Imagine the children in the aisles of the Cathedral dressed in black doing Tai Chi to my song 600 castles ... led by Teena.

Painting Songs

Brilliant! Amanda Painting has now been 'recruited' as a musician for Fusion Inspire.
I popped over to her place at Morfa Isaf Farmhouse today and we had a good old chin wag.  Mandy put the tracks on the laptop, sat at the piano and immediately got into the vibe .. I could have wept! It was beautiful! She is nothing less than gifted!
As an aside .. her dry dock boat accomodation is now finished!
OMG! How totally and utterly cool is that!
So, if it's howling when I come to shoot the film of the LegaC Arts Care Gofal Celf dancers ... we'll skip the beach and use the boat instead!
Mandy is also booked into the studio with me to lay down the piano on the tracks and will be perfroming live on my tour in Jan and Feb. She's also going to do some backing vocals with me live.
To quote a man who wooed me through the TV screen in my early teens .... HAPPY DAYS!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Ukulele Lads At My Pad!

What a treat to have 5 wonderful Ukulele lads from Swansea Ukulele Group at my pad tonight ... 
I first met the lads at the film shoot I organised with The Tin Shed Experience in Laugharne (See earlier blog) Since then Rob and Ollie have taken part in The Gwilli train Filming with me ...

We ran through the songs from Fusion Inspire that the lads will be learning to perform live with me in January and February 2012

After a quick cuppa

We cracked on with a bit of tuition
A listen to the full tracks

And playing along with a learning backing track

They'll be back now in Nov/Dec for a rehearsal ...
Turns out Will with the cool tattooes also plays guitar and went to university to do Popular Music. He said he's well up for learning some of the guitar parts too, which would be very cool indeed!
Thank lads! A pleasure to have you on board Dafydd's Journey!
Aside:  Got to say, it's not a usual occurence for me to invite 5 men to my house for a jam! But what fun ...  although I have to admit,
 at times ...
 I did feel a bit like 'Miss' lol! :)

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Mutual Inspiration of Artists: Dafydd's back story

Photo from The Tin Shed Experience
I'm back in the studio today and preparing for a visit from 5 members of the Swansea Ukulele Group who will be learning some of the songs from the production to perform live on the tour which starts in January 2013.
But somethings is playing on my mind ...
When professional actor Simon Morgan Thomas came to do the film shoot in St.David's he asked me for the back story of the character Dafydd.
He wanted to get inside the character's life .. and I immediately gave him a back story that I didn't know was in my head!
Simon kindly wrote to me after the shoot to say it he had found it 'an inspirational day' .. and yes, it was,  (mutually so thanks Simon) as he has inspired me to think about Dafydd the person in a much wider context ...
Dafydd is married to his childhood sweetheart, Bethan ... she is a comely rounded woman, wearing a floral knee length dress, her faded redded blonde hair is worn loosely up, with fine and curled whisps forever falling; her cheeks round and ruddy, her shoes worn and flat.
She smiles without frown and loves to bake. She wears  an apron, contrasting floral to her dress.
Her kitchen is like the one in the Dylan Thomas Birth house but with a big old pine table in the middle, that use to be her grandmother's.
They have a son ... possibly Ollie from the Tin Shed and Gwilli train shoot ... he loves the outdoors. They have chickens and a barn with a cow and Ollie milks Daisy for breakfast early in the mornings.
They can see the sea in the distance from their upstairs windows (or maybe they live in the little white cottage on the front of Llangrannog which is always boarded up with window shutters these days) and Ollie gazes from his bedroom at the waves, watching the boats dance, much in the way Dylan Thomas watched the boats from the hidden window in his bedroom ... (see earlier blog)
On the morning before Guinivere and the Mermaids bring the floods, Dafydd kisses Bethan goodbye on her cheek making her blush as she does regularly ... she is busy steeping dried fruit in cold tea ready for her Bara Brith ...
'Hwyl fawr BB Cariad.'
'Goodbye Sweetheart BB.'
Aside: Dafydd's knick name for her is  Bara Brith Bethan ... 'BB'
He walks, as he always does, to his little fishing boat to make his catch of the day, winding down the narrow pathway in the hills .. like the one at Morfa Isaf leading to the beach where we will film the dancers in October ...
His little boat is a large coracle painted over the bitumen, faded blue and dirty white and his nets were passed to him from his father who was also a fisherman in West Wales.
He is a quiet man who keeps himself to himself  but still everyone knows him and him them, such as it is in a village where you have lived all your life ...
So all this had formulated in my mind without me knowing or expressing it and now ...
Now I must decide whether or not this back story features in the production? Whether to hint at it or make it explicit as an introduction ...
I will reflect on this when I go on writing retreat next weekend and keep ya posted ...

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Interpretation of sign language via Contemporary Dance

Last night was AMAZING!
I met with some of the dancers from
LegaC Dance Troop at Whitland Town Hall
 led by Development Dance Manager for
Arts Care Gofal Celf, Laura Jenkins.

The dancers watched the film I have made of Maggie Hampton, Director of Disability Arts Cymru, signing the lyrics to Mermaid Scales the first set of songs in the production
Laura asked the dancers to take 2 signs that stood out to them the most and to make them into dance, listening to the full track which is now recorded.

Laura was brilliant at building the dancers skills and confidence in a very short space of time, giving them a set 4 instructions to change and move, increasing their creative development.

They then worked in pairs giving each other the the intructions to build Direction skills.

From here, they were asked to interpret each other's dance improvisation back to each other.

This is the genius part .. she then asked them to do the piece with their eyes closed. The difference in their dance was staggering! ... Explaining that they need to find that same place with their eyes open.

Then they interpreted each other's work with their eyes closed, so they were really feeling the piece and the movement.

All the dancers visibly grew through this process.
It was a very moving experience indeed to watch this development of my lyrics and music, via sign and rhythm through to dance. I felt myself overwhelmed by a sense of awe.

Honestly, I have worked with lots of people throughout my life long career in the arts and there are not many people like Laura Jenkins .
Not only is she a visionary manager, her ability to facilitate in way from the inside out, teaching how to dance from the soul ...
I was quite literally blown away.
I thought, 'I wonder how Maggie will feel when she sees this ... ' having done the sign language film for me and seeing these dancers ... WOW!
I think she'll be as blown away as I was.
The dancers are coming to Morfa Isaf with me in October for a film shoot, where Maggie will be Guinivere, the Mother all Mermaids signing in the sea, Simon Morgan Thomas will be Dafydd, Rachel Hargrave and her drummers will represent the sea against the rocks and the dancers will represent the mermaids and the waves/shipwreck, as well as the souls of the sailors lost.
They will also be performing live with me as part of the tour in January and February 2013.
If you live in Carmarthenshire or Pembrokeshire and you're thinking ... 'Mmm I'd like to get into dance.' then all you have to do is to have a look at the Arts Care Gofal Dance schedule because they run many different classes across the 2 counties.
Click the link & see if there's one near you folks!

A 'Mad Man' in St.David's?

Simon Morgan Thomas is a bright young actor from Cardiff. He came up on the train and we shot off to St.David's make the most of the sunshine.
This is the Tower at Oriel Y Parc in St.David's , a beautiful Gallery and National Park Centre including Amgueddfa Cymru -
National Museum Wales Gallery, Shop, Cafe and Information Centre.

Simon represents the character Dafydd washed up on the shore at Newgale and heads down to St.David's.
When he gets there, people ignore him, judge him, dismissing him as a 'Mad Man'

The filmscape is for the track 'Mad Man' from the production which is a social criticism of sterotypes regarding metal health.
I didn't have a budget for extra's and part of my Arts Council of Wales Individual Mainline Grant target is to consult with members of the community, so I asked people on the streets of St.David's if they would like to be in a film.
They all agreed and we had a total of 16 people.

The interesting thing is that they were all uncomfortable in being negative towards the character. I found this so interesting because when I wrote the song, it was based on a real situation I encountered when travelling around West Wales earlier this year formulating ideas for songs.
It was really quite touching how people reacted to the character and pleasing to hear a wealth of positive discussion regarding mental health.

We had 2 elderly gentleman, a bike shop owner, 2 school children, 4 American tourists, a couple on holiday, A hotelier and guest, A family of 2 adults and 2 smaller children ...
and the reaction was the same every time.
We then did a film shoot in the Bishop's Palace before heading down to Newgale to get very wet .. well, Simon, not me!
Bless him, he was completely submerged, fully dressed in the sea!

Got to tell ya folks, Simon is an absolute joy to work with! We had such good fun and yet stayed completely focussed and got so many great shots it will be difficult to choose!
Simon is multi-gifted. He is an actor, a percussionist and also a brilliant community artist.
He is an equity member and his details are all on Spotlight if you would like to work with him too.
Here are the links to Simon's details folks ...
Simon Morgan-Thomas Member of Equity.