Posts Tagged ‘underground

17
Feb
17

Single Asian Female

 

Single Asian Female

La Boite Theatre Company

La Boite Roundhouse Theatre

February 11 – March 4 2017

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

things have to change…

Single Asian Female gives a voice to the voiceless and talks about race and gender in ways we often don’t.

– Director, Claire Christian

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Single. Asian. Female. It’s a joke because, remember the film? But it’s no joke that the truths shared in Michelle Law’s searingly honest and delightfully funny debut are instantly, regrettably, familiar to us. Of course, a lifetime of being on the receiving end means the racial slurs and assumptions to which this piece gives voice and context, are more familiar to some than others. It’s a timely, nicely conceived work, bold and furious and funny, and while it can do with a more discerning dramaturgical touch, on its first outing Single Asian Female wins the open hearts and minds of audiences and artists. Like Future D. Fidel’s unforgettable Prize Fighter, Law’s contemporary timeless story, inspired by aspects of her own, will rightly take its place in this country’s canon of works; it’s not only highly entertaining and moving, but also, another opportunity to open up our performance spaces and school curriculum to people of colour.

La Boite is employing all the colours, telling all the stories. 

I read something about someone wanting to get rid of a particular story. But why would anyone feel the need to do that? Acts of destruction waste so much energy. Challenging and questioning the dominant myth may be useful, but losing it from the conversation altogether? Not so much. It’s true that some stories are lost along the way, but they’re eventually uncovered, or remembered, or replaced by another version that has the same substance and soul message. This is why we persist with telling them, writing them down, putting them on the stage and screen… Isn’t it vital to keep the stories, to share them and not destroy them or discard them just because someone suddenly decides they don’t appear to be relevant to a particular group of people? The stories are another group’s stories. It doesn’t mean they have no value for you, and it certainly doesn’t mean they were created with an intent to offend or to bury any other stories past, present or future, it simply means they’ve come from someone else in another place at a particular time and you have the choice, always, to recognise any value in them from your unique personal and cultural perspective. And to continue to contribute your own version of events. Go on, get creating rather than destroying.

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Let’s keep all the stories and concentrate our efforts on contributing more stories. Stories are for sharing. So we hold space for all of them. There is enough space.

This production, this story, is another hammer, which La Boite rightly prides itself on wielding (this company too, sans hashtag, is all about leading from Queensland) and it will go a long way in continuing to shape our shared reality. 

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These are the stories that are with us and amongst us.

– La Boite Theatre Company Artistic Director, Todd MacDonald

There’s nothing to fault in the wonderful, easeful performances of the three leading ladies, each a fiercely “strong woman”, firm in her resolve to thrive, and funny in her unapologetically wry take on so many situations, which we find equally appalling and amusing. Director, Claire Christian, gives each situation to us straight, trusting the source and allowing her actors to play with the material, resulting in some of the sharpest, most original comedy of the year.

Lana: WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR EYES? THEY LOOK HUGE.

Mei: OH … THANK YOU.

In a complex and appropriately cluttered and homely, surprisingly functional multi-level space designed by Moe Assad and lit by Keith Clark, the women revolve around each other and their Golden Phoenix Chinese Restaurant (amusingly, for long-term Sunshine Coast residents, located in Nambour, but it could be anywhere), which will bring about either fortune or disaster in the end. La Boite feels as festive as ever, with Chinese lanterns hanging in the foyer and the red carpet rolled out for opening night. There’s even cabaret style restaurant seating available inside the theatre so some audience members really get to feel a part of the action, a clever, inclusive design element. We delight in picking up our tickets (for the tiered section) encased in a shiny red and gold embossed envelope before the show, and cracking open our fortune cookies after it. 

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The Wong family women are real to me because they were inspired by people I know: generous, assertive, resilient women who hold the world on their shoulders.

– Writer, Michelle Law

Alex Lee’s Zoe is a superb realisation of the eldest daughter, harnessing the extreme emotions of a young, talented, ambitious creative soul suffering from anxiety, having yet to secure a place in the world outside of her mother’s realm and representing not just Asian young adults but every young woman everywhere. I’d love to see Lee’s solo show sometime – how could I not? It’s called I’m Eating Peanut Butter In The Shower Because I’m Sad And You’e Not The Boss of Me. Lee is a delight.

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Courtney Stewart’s Mei is the younger, impressionable and eternally frustrated, just-wanna-finish-school-and-go-to-the-formal eye rolling second child, on the verge of finding out for herself the truth about her father’s character and her own. (Interestingly, this dad is unseen and painted as the devil, having selfishly, callously caused every problem faced by the family). Stewart was an inspired inclusion in last year’s developmental showing of Soi Cowboy, a commissioned Brisbane Powerhouse production, which we’re sure to hear more about this year. 

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Hsiao-Ling Tang is an ideal Pearl with her frantic gestures juxtaposed against complete stillness (a sense of the sacred self knowledge coming up against the contemporary overculture’s unachievable expectations), her stubborn use of Chinglish and her insistence that shoes be taken off inside the house (and that Chinese snacks be available to friends during study group – how embarrassing – hilarious). Her tiger mother bouts of intense frustration and raw anger at something unseen prompt us to sit up in surprise and sadness and awe before settling back into a place between laughter and tears (of recognition, sympathy, empathy), when she finally reveals the secret that could be the family’s undoing… Tang will appear later in the year in the world premiere of Michele Lee’s Rice, the winner of the Queensland Premier’s 2016 Drama Award, another must-see.

These women, as if they’d been working together for some time already, convey genuine affection and concern for each other. The connections are real, making their stories completely relatable, regardless of our cultural background, a fly-on-the-wall shared experience. Such a magical thing, live theatre…

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Emily Burton is perhaps the most endearing performer I’ve seen on a Brisbane stage (Dash Kruck and Tom Oliver up there also). I adore her, and much more so when she’s perfectly cast, as she is here, as Mei’s lanky, daggy, wannabe Asian misfit friend, Katie. She’s got a bohemian willowy geeky tomboy cosplay comical sad panda thing going on and it works superbly as a foil to mean girl Lana’s constant digs, and Mei’s reluctant rebelliousness and her insecurities about who she thinks she wants to be. A scene in which we see Mei trapped between Katie’s longstanding friendship and Lana’s passive aggressive popularity test is so uncomfortable to watch; it’s probably stingingly familiar to most of us if we’re honest, as is Mei’s choice in the moment and Katie’s reaction. Like similar moments, it could be overplayed but Burton finds a balance between the truth of the character and the tragicomedy of the situation.

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Patrick Jhanur is just gorgeous as Paul. His gentleness though, his subtleties (and some of his words), are at risk of becoming lost in the noise and pace of the women’s world. This is quite probably a deliberate thing and will be more astutely balanced/managed as the season continues. The self conscious banter between he and Zoe is delightful, making us squirm and giggle and smile, and hope that everything will work out for these two. But is this character just the token male, included as a woman might be, to fit that space in a play populated with men, penned by a man? I don’t think so. As we see during a discussion about the chance to have a child, with vulnerability and a tenderness not always afforded a male character, Jhanur steps up for this role, and perhaps there is simply, gradually, a little more flesh to be added to its bones. 

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Emily Vascotto has vibrant, wicked, gleeful Isla Fischer/Lizzie Moore energy and if you don’t know our Lizzie Moore, you really ought to get out…more. A real-life red-headed Bratz Doll, Vascotto embodies the type I’d warn my daughter about, as in, keep your friends close and keep that one closer. With less experience on stage than the other girls but with no less sass, Vascotto walks a fine comical line between being immediately recognisable and so much larger than life that we lose sight of who Lana really is. I think she’ll settle into this role during the season and certainly, will do so without the vignettes involving her character losing any momentum. At least, let’s hope not, with some momentum lacking on opening night. (I think we accept that this is typical of an opening night performance and later, we’re unsurprised by reports of a cracking pace). The occasional lag seems due to The Family Law style episodic structure, each chapter landing with an unapologetically political or moral thud. Like, BOOM. It’s never too much but it’s almost too much at once; it’s almost overwhelming, but then, the reality is that life IS overwhelming. There IS this much blatant racism to deal with in this country, every day. We have ALL of these issues to consider, and more. 

One has to write what one sees, what one feels, truthfully, sincerely.

– Anton Chekhov

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To finish with Tina Arena’s Chains is such a great gimmick (and these girls can really sing it!), but it’s not my favourite closing number. I feel we should be singing along with something…upbeat. Karaoke is gold and if you promise it you need to deliver on it, just as the slinky has its moment on the stairs. (Gun. Bang. Etcetera.)

In the spirit of the current trend to make a short show a good show, it’s worth noting that a discerning dramaturg might take a red pen to the text, make more efficient use of the more stylised moments (a raw, real look at online dating and the daughters’ stories being taken into account by the end), and make it a 90-minute no-interval knockout…but think about that. Would we have quite as much to digest or to discuss? Would we feel as deeply about any of the characters without the time to meander through their world with them? The rich texture of this tale is in its detail and while I’d often prefer to get home earlier (but I know, it’s so interesting to stay for speeches too, so I usually do), by the same token I’d love to see the full length production, as it stands, return with yum cha at interval and actual karaoke afterwards. In fact, let’s make the food together. It’s perfect festival fare.

In the meantime, don’t miss seeing Michelle Law’s personal-universal play just the way it is, at La Boite’s Roundhouse. Don’t miss the opportunity to take part in our nation’s most pressing conversation. Don’t miss being part of the cultural change, the global shift; the impetus behind powerful art and empowered people.

 

Single Asian Female is the baton being passed on. Don’t drop it or decline to take it. Don’t be a dickhead. Don’t be that (white) guy.

 

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19
May
14

Next Wave comes to Brisbane this week!

 

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Metro Arts is opening its doors to welcome back Brisbane emerging artists currently presenting in Next Wave Festival in Melbourne.

 

A biennial festival, Next Wave is Australia’s leading platform for the showcase of young artists’ work; and signals our artist leaders of tomorrow.

 

The 떡볶이Box (The Dokboki Box), which is currently playing in Federation Square, Melbourne, is one the works that will return to Metro Arts. A cross cultural work developed by Brisbane performance maker, Nathan Stoneham, and Korean performance maker, Younghee Park, the work was conceived out of a residency at Metro Arts in 2013.

Come on into The 떡볶이 Box (The Dokboki Box) – a slice of Seoul nestled into our Carriageway, from the creators of the hit work 지하 UNDERGROUND – for songs, stories, and delicious snacks cooked before your very eyes! To keep you right up close to the action, this work has an EXTREMELY limited capacity, so book your tickets NOW! Image by Tom Doman, courtesy of Next Wave.

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The 떡볶이 Box (The Dokboki Box) sets up shop in our Carriageway for a full three weeks, serving snacks, songs and stories out of a little orange tent right off the streets of Korea. Join M’ck McKeagueYounghee Park, and Nathan Stoneham – co-creators of the hit  지하 Underground (Metro Arts 2011, Brisbane Festival 2012, Brisbane Powerhouse WTF 2014).

THE 떡볶이 BOX (THE DOKBOKI BOX) // 21 May – 7 June, Carriageway

Metro Arts recognises the need for artists to work nationally in order to build sustainable practices and proactively forges partnerships with like-organisations to enable this activity.

 

This is the first time that work from Next Wave festival has toured directly out of the festival, presenting an exciting opportunity for Brisbane based audiences to visit works created by Australia’s leading young artists. Chief Executive Officer of Metro Arts, Liz Burcham said ‘Both Metro Arts and Next Wave are multidisciplinary organisations dedicated to developing contemporary practices and this valuable partnership will support the fast tracking of these artists’ careers.’

In addition to presenting the four works by Brisbane artists, included in the suite of works opening on 21 May, is Tukre by Melbourne dancer Raghav Handa and offers a reciprocal opportunity for this young artist.

Raghav Handa is a contemporary dance artist with a background in modern and Australian indigenous dance.

As a performer and collaborator, he has worked in Australia and overseas with many leading Australian choreographers including Marilyn Miller, Martin del Amo, Vicki van Hout, Narelle Benjamin and Sue Healey.

Tukre’ is an intriguing dance piece that explores how lineage and rites of passage transcend borders!

It is inspired by the contents of Handa’s luggage when he arrived in Australia from India. He creates a memory map of his life and heritage through music and dance. Using family heirlooms – a frying pan, a needle and thread, his mother’s saris, he evokes the traditions, rituals and memories of his family journey. This is an engaging piece and gives a very brief insight to what migrants must feel when arriving in a new country.

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Two new works by Brisbane artists also take over our Gallery: the first, The Blaktism, sees a young female ‘White Aborigine’ undertake a sacred ceremony in which she receives the rite of authenticity validated by cultural authorities ever present in the Australian cultural landscape. This new pop video work by Megan Cope highlights the absurd nature of racial classification in 21st Century Australia.

THE BLAKTISM // 21 May – 7 June, Gallery

Lesser Gods, by Ryan Presley, sits alongside in the Gallery. This interactive, mixed-media, dancefloor installation begins as a simple game of mirroring audio and visual commands on the central dance floor installation – but soon becomes a more sombre meditation on modern colonial attitudes and the ramifications of following directions.

LESSER GODS // 21 May – 7 June, Gallery

Our Basement space serves as the site for contemplative symposium, Altertruism Demos – a reflection on advocates for advancement Golden Solution’s trio of works in Next Wave; join us for a roundtable discussion on the narrowing gap between speculative fiction and fact, to reassess your freedoms, fears and desires in the face of new unmanned drone technology.

ALTERTRUISM DEMOS // 21-24 May, Basement

We’re also excited to be able to host the work of young Sydney-based dance maker Raghav HandraTukre’ (‘pieces’ in Hindi) explores how lineage and rites of passage transcend borders. Inspired by the contents of his luggage on arrival in Australia, his mother’s ancestral jewellery, and his grandfather’s skill at cutting gemstone, Raghav creates a memory map of his life and heritage through music and dance, to uncover how history is passed down through bloodlines, frying pans and faceting techniques!

TUKRE’ // 21-24 May, Sue Benner Theatre

To book tickets for THE 떡볶이 BOX (THE DOKBOKI BOX) and TUKRE’,  follow the links or phone (07) 3002 7100.

Join us for the openings of BLAKTISM, LESSER GODS, and ALTERTRUISM DEMOS on Wednesday 21st May from 5:30pm.

ABOUT METRO ARTS

A multi-artform incubator for independent practice, Metro Arts provides a platform of infrastructure, mentoring, development and producing support, networks and leadership for artists at all stages of practice, while concurrently promoting new and emerging ideas, forms and practices to the market.

24
Feb
14

지하 Underground WTF14

 

WTF 2014 Brisbane Powerhouse

 

February 13 – 23 2014

 

지하 Underground (Australia/South Korea)

Motherboard Productions

Brisbane Powerhouse

Turbine Studio

February 12 – 16 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

Follow your curiosity to 지하 Underground, a pop-up Korean speakeasy bursting with live music and magical storytelling.

 

Drink the night away with the bar’s eccentric proprietor as his ragtag crew of musicians unfold a timeless tale of love that transcends culture, language, and gender. Created by Jeremy Neideck and Nathan Stoneham alongside an international team, this strange and beautiful travelling tavern returns to Brisbane after sell-out seasons in 2011 and 2012.

 

Post-show, 지하 Underground‘s bar stays open, bursting with performances by special friends and lovers.

 

괴짜 사장님과 밤새도록 술잔을 기울이는 동안 , 바 종업원들로 구성된 오합지졸 밴드가 만들어내는 멋진 선율 속에 문화와 언어와 성性을 초월한 사랑 이야기가 펼쳐 집니다.

 

제레미 나이덱, 네이슨 스톤햄,그들과 한 팀을 이룬 국제적 공연자들에 의해 창작된 이 신비하고 아름다운 이동식 선술집은 2011년 2012년 전회 매진을 기록하고, 드디어 여러분들 곁으로 다시 찾아 옵니다!

 

공연 후, 지하 Underground 바(Bar)에서는 특별한 친구들과 연인들의 특별한 공연들이 계속 이어 지며 바도 오픈되어 있습니다!

 

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지하 Underground is so nearly a Brisbane institution that I’m surprised a) it’s taken me so long to see it and b) it doesn’t yet have a permanent home somewhere. This is a show that has been evolving since 2011 and to be honest, I guess if it had a permanent home it might just lose a little of its magic, because the whole notion of “pop-up”, whether it’s in retail or the theatre, is a magical idea in itself.

 

It’s a theatrical experience completely unlike any other – part play, part musical, part karaoke – and a completely convincing unique brand of storytelling, which entices, embraces, and invites us after each show to stay and dance with the company and their special guests as part of an up-late program of awesome performers, including Michelle Zen and the Neon and Polytoxic.

 

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It’s the kind of place where everyone greets you, you grab a drink from the bar, settle comfortably, have a great time and find it reeeally difficult to leave, and even more difficult to resist coming back for a second visit. We feel right at home in the unfamiliar surrounds (well, for me, having never been to Korea) of a cute and cluttered speakeasy, crossing paths with the most interesting people, and sharing the quirky space and the queer love story created by Jeremy Neideck and Nathan Stoneham.

 

Told in English and Korean, it’s not your typically commercially touted tale, and embedded within an original musical soundtrack there are just as many lighter, lovelier moments as there are dark, devastating and confronting segments, both musically and theatrically. A fine balance is created by multi-skilled storytellers/performers who have a special gift for finding the rhythm of the piece, individually and as a tight-knit ensemble, without appearing to look for it at all. The writing and direction allow the story to unfold as naturally as if we were all friends up for a big night out together…and we actually feel as if we are. The voices are raw, real and fantastic, and everybody picks up a musical instrument or two. A special surprise performance from vocalist and guitarist random audience member, Henry, sets the relaxed tone of the evening before the pace picks up with a game of fish tank BINGO to decide which of the 지하 Underground bar staff will play which characters in the story they retell each night. Highly energised and hilarious sequences, such as the Coconut Princess (Neideck) racing from one end of the space to the other, through the audience several times to climb up onto an exercise bike on top of a cabinet while singing, smiling, and remembering each time to pick up his suitcase of stuff, are juxtaposed against strange and beautifully mellow moments of memory and quiet contemplation.

 

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지하 Underground is such a strong piece, and it stands out at this festival for being truly original, challenging AND entertaining.

 

As such 지하 Underground has developed a cult following since its inception. I genuinely expect it to run forever, in some capacity, all over the world! It’s a new kind of crazy-genius cross-cultural collaborative creative gem that has real heart and soul (and watermelon and sparkle and disco!). It works on the heart and the head, and on the soul, and I’m going to find it really hard to let it go; its characters and their stories will stay with me, like a dream that I can’t get back to, long after the music and the sparkles have gone.

 

 

 

14
Sep
12

지하 Underground

 Brisbane Festival

지하

Underground  

Motherboard Productions

Storage Container, Absoe Business Equipment car park, West End 

Tuesday 11th – Saturday 29th September 2012

  

Reviewed by Matty Gharakhanian

 

호기심이 이끄는 데로 따라오다 보면, 당신은 어느새 브리즈번의 잊혀진 구석에 자리잡은 한국의 바(Bar)지하 언더그라운드를 만나게 될 것입니다.

사장님과 주거니 받거니 술잔을 기울이다 보면, 바 종업원들로 구성된 오합지졸 밴드가 만들어내는 멋진 선율 속에 국경과 문화, 언어와 성性을 초월한 사랑 이야기가 펼쳐 집니다.

라이브 음악과 마법 같은 스토리 텔링이 뒤섞인 이 찰나의 세계는 연출가 제레미 나이덱의 상상으로 출발하여 마더보드 프로덕션이 선 보입니다.

잠시 여러분 자신을 이 세계에로 초대하신다면, 매 시간이 행복한 시간이 될 것입니다. 공연 후에는 여러 특별 게스트들과 함께 모든 이에게 열린 ‘바 Bar’로 완벽하게 탈바꿈하게 됩니다.

Let your curiosity guide you to 지하 Underground, a pop-up Korean speakeasy that has taken root in a forgotten corner of Brisbane.

Prepare to drink the night away with the venue’s eccentric proprietor, as a tale of love transcending culture, language and gender unfolds to rhythms created by his staff, a ragtag crew of musicians.

Every hour is happy hour as you allow yourself to indulge in a mix of live music and magical storytelling amidst a transitory world written by Jeremy Neideck and Nathan Stoneham and presented by Motherboard Productions.

Post-performance, the space transforms into a fully functioning bar for the public with a variety of special guests.

 

Underground Motherboard Productions

Underground. Motherboard Productions. Image by Matty Gharakhanian.

 

Upon entering through black curtains, you feel like you’ve entered into another world.  A world you’ve never been before.  You’re given a hearty greeting as you enter the room.  Various pictures, ornaments, mismatching chairs and even more mismatching colours fill your field of vision.  The stage is a modestly low-set wooden crate with a quaint, vintage feel to the place.  Blow-up palm trees are strewn about by the speakers and small, wooden fish trinkets and other crafted sea critters dangle from the fishnet-laden ceiling.  The style is eclectic and colourful and you start to get a feel for what the show will be like.  The vibe is set for the night.

Underground is a tale of love, regardless of culture, language or gender.  This Korean and English show – directed and written by Jeremy Neideck and co-written by Nathan Stoneham – incorporates live music, dance and storytelling to take you on a glorious adventure with the Coconut Princess through love and discovery.

Before the show even begins, there is pre-show entertainment with songs and drinks to keep the spirits of the room high. To get everyone interested, the performers ask for audience participation and before you know it, the energy in the room is electric.  Your heart is racing and everyone’s clapping along and cheering.  The show itself starts off much like a cheesy games show.  I was half expecting to see Larry Emdur from The Price Is Right to pop out at any moment.

 

 

But don’t let this fool you.  There is more to this show than first meets the eye.

Underground is an absolute riot.  From the get go, there isn’t a single moment of rest from the enthusiastic and honest performances.  It’s the kind of show that will have you laughing almost non-stop while still managing to maintain story.  There were highly inventive uses of props to create each scene and setting and with just the tiniest touch or addition to the stage, we are taken to the next part of the production.

The songs are, for lack of a better word, outstanding.  These live-performed songs add to the storyline as the lyrics and music weave in and out of the show.

After briefly chatting to the producer, Dave Sleswick of Motherboard Productions, I found out the music was original and the finale musical number – possibly the best of the show – was something they had been particularly working on for quite some time.  And it shows.  The whole production is quite evidently a labour of love and the music worthy of its own album, which will be made available soon, thanks to the support for the project, raised via pozible.com

Because of the energy and enthusiasm of the performers (Tak Hoyoung, Park Younghee, Lee Chunnam, Thom Browning, Jeremy Neideck, Nathan Stoneham and Abe Mitchell) you can’t help but smile the whole time.  You also soon discover that the entire room is their stage as they sing, dance and act their way through the audience.  Various parts of the performance are set up throughout the room so you can’t help but feel immersed and in the thick of the action for much of the show.

Underground is running throughout Brisbane Festival and is not a production to be missed.  If you enjoy a good laugh and a good time, go see it immediately.

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Underground Motherboard Productions

Nathan Stoneham & Younghee Park. Image by Gerwyn Davies.




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