Brith Gof (Theatre company)

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Brith Gof (Theatre company)

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Brith Gof was founded in 1981 by Mike Pearson and Lis Hughes Jones, following their departure from Cardiff Laboratory Theatre. Initially they were based in Aberystwyth and were resident in the Barn Centre throughout the 1980s. In [?1987] they relocated to Cardiff but returned to West Wales in 1994 to the University of Lampeter. Whilst at the Barn Centre they met the artist Clifford McLucas who began to design elements for their performances. He eventually became a full time member of the artistic team and he and Mike Pearson became joint artistic directors of the company. Brith Gof’s work in the beginning was influenced by Welsh traditions such as music and song, poetry, oratory and preaching and they developed a performance style that mixed speech and song, soliloquy and physical action. Productions were almost always created as a hybrid of four elements – physical actions, scenography, text and music. Their work also became increasingly political, drawing on aspects of Welsh history and also experiences of cultural and economic decline. Although the company created formal indoor and street performances, increasingly they concentrated on creating events for special occasions and locations and created work for non-theatrical spaces such as barns, chapels, cattle markets and farms. A further development was to build their own staging units so that a performance could be staged at any venue bringing with it its own floor, seating or lighting. The company created a variety of small, medium and eventually large scale site-specific work and in 1988, in collaboration with the industrial music group Test Dept., their first large scale site-specific production, Gododdin, was created. After this the company concentrated on pioneering site-specific performances and two more large-scale site-specific productions followed, namely Pax (1989-1991) and Haearn (1992). Over the years the company performed in a variety of unusual locations such as disused factories, working sand quarries, ice hockey stadiums, railway stations and forests and their work was staged in various locations around the world including Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, France, South America and Hong Kong. They collaborated with a number of foreign companies including Osmego Dnia (Poland), Farfa (Denmark), Theaterlabor (Germany), Grenland Friteater (Norway), La Fura Dels Baus (Spain) and Sand and Bricks (Hong Kong). Brith Gof came to be recognised as Wales’ leading performance group, setting the standards for site-specific practice in Britain and Europe. Brith Gof was also committed to pedagogical activities. The company held training and educational projects for students and also workshops, demonstrations and training programmes for wider groups of Welsh practitioners and joint projects with other Welsh and foreign groups. The company also tried to reach a wider audience through the production of television programmes. In 2004 the company was closed.

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