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THE MERTHYR STIGMATIST Will Have its Digital World Premiere From Sherman Theatre and Theatre Uncut

Merthyr Tydfil born and raised actor Bethan McLean makes her professional debut in the role of Carys.

Originally scheduled as part of Sherman Theatre's Autumn 2020 season, The Merthyr Stigmatist will be presented in a co-production with Theatre Uncut this Spring as a fully-staged digital production recorded in the Sherman Theatre Studio. Wales-based playwright Lisa Parry's play was shortlisted for the inaugural Theatre Uncut Political Playwriting Award, and the show will be directed by Theatre Uncut's Co-Artistic Director Emma Callander to mark the tenth anniversary of the company's founding.

Taking place in a Merthyr Tydfil classroom, The Merthyr Stigmatist sees faith, reason and politics collide when Carys, a sixteen year-old school pupil claims to have received the wounds of Christ. Carys is convinced that her wounds are a sign from God and is crying out to be heard. Siân, Carys's teacher is not so sure. Filled with doubt, Siân believes silencing Carys will keep her safe, but can she make sense of what is happening to her young pupil?

Following an open call out, Merthyr Tydfil born and raised actor Bethan McLean makes her professional debut in the role of Carys. The cast for this two-hander is completed by fellow Welsh actress Bethan Mary-James in the role of school teacher Siân. Bethan recently appeared in the digital production of Antigone by the Sherman's Company in Residence PowderHouse, which formed part of Network Play Readings series with Sherman Theatre and National Theatre Wales in partnership with BBC Wales and BBC Arts. Other theatre credits include Much Ado About Nothing at Tobacco Factory Theatres and Future For Beginners at Wales Millennium Centre. Bethan's TV credits include Channel 4's comedy Friday Night Dinner.

Sherman Theatre has established meaningful links with communities in Merthyr Tydfil over recent years through projects including Tydfil Tales and Tydfil Truths. Through an extensive creative engagement programme supporting the release of the play, the Sherman will build on those connections.

Writer Lisa Parry said "Theatre's starting to come back but we're coming back into a very different world. Whose stories should we now be telling? Who gets to tell them? At its heart is the voice of a girl in an overlooked town, desperately wanting to be heard and valued. And as theatre ghost lights remained switched on, I felt her voice was at risk of being muffled and yet it kept screaming relentlessly in my head. I'm grateful this production is letting that voice out; and that a new play from Wales is determinedly finding its way into the world too as our theatre buildings remain closed to the public. I'm really proud to be working with Theatre Uncut and the Sherman Theatre who've decided to embrace this new world with this production, which - whilst I promise some comedy and I absolutely adore both characters more than I can say - does feel at times like a gauntlet and a plea to think about whose voices we listen to and who we choose to be."

Sherman Theatre and Theatre Uncut have assembled a formidable creative team to bring this major new Welsh play to life under the direction of Emma Callander, Theatre Uncut's Co-Artistic Director. The creative team includes: Designer Elin Steele (Woof, Sherman Theatre, Llyfr Glas Nebo, Cwmni Fran Wen), Composer Eädyth, who recently collaborated on Sherman Theatre's Heart of Cardiff audio season, Sound Designer Ian Barnard (Alice in Wonderland, Sherman Theatre) and Lighting Designer Andy Pike (Lose Yourself, Sherman Theatre). Carli De'La Hughes will join the team as Assistant Director, a development opportunity supported by Ashley Family Foundation.

Director Emma Callander said "I got shivers when I first read this story of a young girl in the Welsh valleys screaming to be heard. It felt vital and urgent. I am so pleased that we are able to bring this play to the stage, particularly in these most challenging of times. Lisa is a fierce, uncompromising playwright who takes religion, culture and politics head on in this extraordinary, ambitious play, and she does it with a sense of humour. We created the Theatre Uncut Political Playwriting Award to support writers who are looking to explore the big social issues of today and The Merthyr Stigmatist does exactly that, in style."

Sherman Theatre's Artistic Director, Joe Murphy said "I am so delighted to finally be able to share Lisa's important play with our audiences. We always intended to stage this co-production with Theatre Uncut in front of live audiences in our Studio. However, as the months have passed and as restrictions continue we felt that it was essential to be able to give our audiences a fully staged production and the kind of thought-provoking, powerful experience they have come to expect from us to enjoy at home, on demand. This timely play about the need to listen to unheard voices encapsulates what the Sherman is all about. I can't wait to see what this exceptional team will create."

This play discusses adult themes, includes scenes which some audience members may find upsetting and contains strong language. If you require any further guidance or assistance, please email box.office@shermantheatre.co.uk

Tickets from £7.50: www.shermantheatre.co.uk


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