Review: Cheryl Beer – The Dragon Tree

I’ve always tried to follow the instructions on the old Swan Vesta matchbox – Keep Dry and Away from Children*. So it was with some trepidation that after hearing primary school children were involved and that there was flooding in Camarthenshire that I set off to see the premier of Cheryl Beer’s Dragon Tree at the National Botanic Gardens of Wales in Llanarthne.

For those who don’t know, Cheryl (Welsh Icons Editor’s Choice, Music 2011) is a one-woman creative industry – Singer, Songwriter, Teacher, Film maker, Blogger and even Installation Artist.

The Dragon Tree is a life quest for the main character Dafydd, a fisherman washed up in Cardigan Bay, with Guinivere, the Mermaid Goddess on his side, his trail West combines stories of the past, present and what may be in the future, beautifully told through a living Multi Media Arts Installation of Song, Music, Film, Spoken Word, Creative Arts and Movement via Arts Care Gofal Celf, LegaC Contemporary Dance Troop.

The Dragon Tree is based on consultation with over 650 members of the West Wales Community and literally 1000’s of people via the internet. Cheryl’s creative journey shows us what the people consider to be the light and dark of the coastline, from song collaborations with dolphins via hydro-phonic acoustic recordings out at sea with Ceredigion Wildlife and Sea Watch Foundation, to social comment from DDC Street Dancers regarding high employment in coastal towns; from a romanticised embrace of old folk stories, to creating new characters for tomorrow, The Dragon Tree is an opportunity for the audience to experience the very personal & intimate nature of Cheryl’s creativity within the context of her life in West Wales.

Her attention to detail and commitment to inclusion via the arts within her own work has culminated in a Bi-Lingual Arts Installation which is exhibited alongside the production. Using recycled materials and representing the fishermen of the Teifi River, the installation includes translations of Cheryl’s lyrics from Award Winning Bard, Ceri Wyn Jones and a hand crafted Story Telling Bench made from the drift wood of our coastline.

In addition, Cheryl includes smell as part of the production to enhance the experience for those who may have a visual impairment and has composed music and rhythm patterns based on sign language films of her lyrics made with Maggie Hampton, Director of Disability Arts Cymru.
Certainly Cheryl is capturing the imagination of many, her blog where she has been journaling the process, having had over 10,000 hits globally in the first 7 months of the grant period:

Sitting in the cafe afterword words such as beautiful, inspiring and imaginative were thrown around like confetti. I for once could not agree more.

*The children were a delight with none of the precociousness sometimes seen in the young, and the only time I got wet was stepping back into a fountain when trying to take a photograph.

St David’s
Oriel Y Parc
13th February The Dragon Tree Ukulele Song Writing Seminar
1.00pm St.David’s Cathedral

16th February 12.00pm The Songs of The Dragon Tree
Live Music Oriel Y Parc

16th February 2.00pm Film Exhibition
The Cwrt House

16th February 3.30pm Bi-lingual Arts Installation Cuppa & Cakes
St Cadoc’s Church, Trevethin The Dragon Tree: Music, Film & Arts Installation
February 26th 6.00pm

Keep an eye on Cheryl’s Blog for full details or her website

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