BA Illustration graduate Osian Grifford on working with the National Theatre of Wales

BA Illustration graduate Osian Grifford recently worked with the National Theatre of Wales on a community theatre project entitled ‘Lifted by Beauty : Adventures in Dreaming‘.

Osian explains his role: “As the illustrator for this production I lived in Rhyl for a week, mostly illustrating the story of the project at National Theatre Wales’ shop. The stories and activities that fed into the final production on the weekend of 31st March – 2nd April 2017 came from months of National Theatre Wales and Mark Storor working with inspirational community groups in Rhyl.

My work was to illustrate the information and stories gathered during the week leading up to the show. The information came in the form of spoken stories and descriptions through Mark, songs and poetry in writing from residents of Rhyl, workshops (some of which i was able to attend) and from Mark and National Theatre Wales showing/explaining to me parts of the production and also some personally gathered history of Rhyl.
Working on Lifted by Beauty: Adventures in Dreaming was an emotional experience; I was learning a lot about the town’s history as a successful seaside tourist resort which carried a lot of happy memories for its residents, and also its history of being a comfortable destination for evacuees and the optimistic feel this gave to the town. But I was also steeped in the personal information (poetry writing and 2nd hand stories) of the individuals that are trying to build stronger communities in Rhyl, which has a reputation as a struggling town. On top of this I was meeting people throughout the week, hearing their responses to Rhyl being the setting and theme of this creative project. Their responses were often based in a kind of fear of optimism whilst also being very interested.

Having immersed myself in Rhyl so thoroughly meant that by the final performance (in part of which I illustrate the windows of a greenhouse in one of the car-park installations) Mark’s visuals and Brian Duffy’s music/sounds were both so haunting and at the same time optimistic that I felt I could have carried on investigating Rhyl for years.”