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A headshot image of Llinos Mai, smiling directly at the camera

Heart, humour and catchy songs – Llinos Mai on Anthem

Writer and co-composer Llinos Mai shares her inspirations for our first Wales Millennium Centre production of 2022 – Anthem.

I write comedy shows which include comedy songs and so I’m always on the lookout for potential environments to set new shows.

TV talent shows like The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice, and TV song competitions like Eurovision and Cân i Gymru have always felt like the perfect worlds to use as inspiration for a comedy show.

TV talent shows involve ordinary people being put in extraordinary situations (singing or performing live on TV in front of millions of people) which can be both brilliant, hilarious, life affirming and excruciating all at the same time.

TV song competitions offer up entertaining evenings of different song styles, staged in brilliant and sometimes bonkers ways. And so both these elements became the main inspirations for writing a new show – Anthem.

Cân i Gymru 2021 Winner – 'Bach o Hwne' by Morgan Elwy Williams
Cân i Gymru 2021 Winner – 'Bach o Hwne' by Morgan Elwy Williams

Anthem very much follows the format of these shows. It is set up as a live TV broadcast which is taking place at the Wales Millennium Centre on the night of the live final.

There is a presenter, four finalists who have each written a new Welsh song, VTs where we learn a little bit more about their lives and the contestants perform their songs live. What could possibly go wrong?! Well, as this stage show is a comedy, then quite a lot actually.

Not to sound too much like a Visit Wales advert but Wales is amazing isn’t it? It’s so rich in history, culture, language, traditions, and beautiful landscapes.

We have Eisteddfodau, the Gorsedd, the Mabinogion, Yr Wyddfa, and not forgetting ‘Fferm Ffactor.’ It’s felt like such a treat to be able to approach some of these elements within the show through comedy and song.

Gig y Pafiliwn, Eisteddfod 2018
Gig y Pafiliwn, Eisteddfod 2018

Over the last two years, Anthem has gone from a page-long pitch to a full script, via some research and development weeks and many months sat at my kitchen table writing the script and songs.

We are now only two weeks away from starting rehearsals at Wales Millennium Centre and there is an amazing creative team on board led by Alice Eklund as Director, Dan Lawrence as Musical Director and Roger Williams as Dramaturg.

We also have a cast of talented comedy actors in place (which I’m not allowed to mention just yet!) who I know are all going to bring the piece to life in such a magical way.

Last year I watched Cân i Gymru and I felt a huge sense of love and pride for the show. Here were a group of ordinary individuals with everyday jobs who also just happened to have the ability and talent to write songs and who were also brave enough to sing it on live TV.

I don’t know if a competition of this particular type could exist anywhere else in the world other than Wales. I hope Anthem goes someway to celebrate this.

I have always created shows that I’d like to go and see at the theatre. So, if like me you like shows with heart, humour and catchy songs, then Anthem might just be the show for you!

Anthem

Weston Studio, 30 March – 10 April

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We are extremely grateful to Peter and Janet Swinburn and Dr Carol Bell for supporting Anthem, and to Garfield Weston Foundation and Arts Council of Wales for supporting our productions through 2021/22.

Find out more about supporting our productions and creative work across Wales through becoming a member of our Chair’s Circle.