Cardiff’s Re-Live Theatre takes a trip down memory lane

Karin DiamondActress and Director, Karin Diamond, has used her father’s life story as an inspiration for Re-Live Theatre’s latest production, ‘A Story to Call My Own‘ which is being performed this weekend at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff.

Her actor father’s memories of being evacuated from London to Wales during World War Two is one of the autobiographical tales featured in A Story To Call My Own.

Launched on Thursday night at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff by Re-Live Theatre Company, of which Karin is co-director, the show aims to give a voice to the older generation.

Her father John Diamond, whom she starred alongside in the Welsh language soap opera Pobol Y Cwm, is working with a cast of two others, Terri Morrow and Marianne Harman, neither of them professional actors, who are all helping to illustrate each other’s stories.

“We like to look at stories from a generation who you seldom get to hear on stage,” says Karin, who launched the company back in 2006 with Alison O’Connor.

“We felt we could give an opportunity to older people to impart their wisdom and knowledge to our audiences.”

This is the company’s third production and it covers the themes of identity, escape and love as it explores the lives of three older people who grew up in Wales.

From the idyllic fields of Llansaint in Carmarthenshire, to the mining community of the Rhondda Valley and the city streets of Grangetown in Cardiff, the three life stories cross paths.

During the last eight weeks, the directors have been working with the cast to shape their stories, as well as helping the non professionals to hone their acting skills.

For Karin, it is particularly poignant that she is now able to hear her father’s story on the stage.

It looks at his journey from London to Wales as a young evacuee during WWII.

“He was only two years old and he was the only black boy in a Welsh language village in West Wales,” she says.

“He sees himself as Welsh, but his search for his identity has played a big part in his life. Who were his mum, dad and brothers?”

John, who now lives in London, was a nurse before becoming an actor when he was in his 30s.

Although he and Karin played father and daughter in Pobol Y Cwm, this is the first time she has actually directed her dad.

“I wondered whether he’d be able to take my direction but he’s been absolutely amazing,” says the 35-year-old.

Terri’s story is about how her parents influenced her life, while Marianne’s is about how relationships can affect you.

“It’s a very emotional piece – it’s about becoming independent,” says Karin.

During the last three years, the theatre company has become renowned for its autobiographical pieces.

Co-director Alison adds: “We are passionate about the potential theatre has to re-ignite memories, restore connections between people and bring the past into the present.

“We want to bring the voices of a generation we don’t often hear in the theatre onto our stages.

“Our previous shows have attracted such a mixed audience – young, old and many others in between – that we believe there is an appetite for hearing the tales our elders, told in a new and entertaining way.”

The company, which has received Lottery funding from the Arts Council of Wales, is hoping to tour the hour-long production once it ends its run at the newly refurbished

A Story To Call My Own is at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, until tomorrow. Tickets are priced £6 from the box office on 029 2030 4400

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