Tŷ Pawb hosted a unique hip-hop theatre event last month when ‘Breakin’ Convention: Open Art Surgery Wales’ came to Wrexham.
The premise was that aspiring dancers, rappers, DJs, spoken-word artists or graffiti writers brought their talents to hip-hop pioneer Jonzi D, Ivan Blackstock and Anthony Lennon. Jonzi D then helped them develop their ideas to showcase their act in front of a live audience at Tŷ Pawb.
This unique event, which took place at the end of a week of intense research and development, presented six new short works to the audience who were then invited to critique, provide feedback and ask questions to the artists involved.
Open Art Surgery was not about presenting finished work. The focus was to develop theatre skills within hip-hop artists and to experiment with new ideas that could be developed in the future and to break down the fourth wall to allow the audience to engage with the artists.
The event was a resounding success and we’ve been lucky enough to get some first-hand accounts from those present:
Avant Cymru Theatre Company (Rachel Pedley and Jamie Berry): ‘It was great to come to Wrexham. The other local hip-hop and dance organisations were really supportive, joining us in rehearsals and offering ideas and feedback in the week. Loved working in Tŷ Pawb, especially the day in the People’s Square when we got to meet the public. Really great venue, really great town’.
Anthony E Lennon: ‘To all artists who took part in the Wrexham Open Art Surgery with Jonzi D and me. Extremely proud of what everyone brought through to be explored, operated on and (after four days of creation) shared in front of the Tŷ Pawb audience. Especially proud of you @alex_juzwin’
Chembomusic: ‘I really enjoyed last night’s Breakin’ Convention/Art Surgery event at Tŷ Pawb by the legendary Jonzi D. Honestly, I’ve never seen theatrical techniques applied to hip-hop performance plus rap. It was incredible. Thanks also to Rachel Pedley and my crew @AllWalesEYST. I want more!’
Larynx Entertainment: ‘Congratulations to the Avant Cymru and Breakin’ Convention teams for their stellar hip-hop theatre show last night. Helping to grow the culture in an exciting new way. It’s one hundred percent worth checking these guys out when they’re in your town.’
Misfit (Alex Juzwin): ‘I really loved my experience at The Breakin’ Convention with Avant Cymru! I learnt a lot from the workshop during the week and was able to produce a great piece of hip-hop theatre with the guidance of Anthony and Jonzi! I would highly recommend everyone who gets the chance to take part in this massively insightful and fun experience.’
Thomas Hughes Lloyd from Hip Hop Valley: ‘Open Art Surgery was an amazing experience and was the first time hip-hop theatre had been displayed in Wrexham as far as I am aware. The project brought down Jonzi D who is leading the way for hip-hop theatre growth in the UK. The project was facilitated by Advant Cymru who bring hip-hop projects, workshops and opportunities to Wales.’
The Open Art Survey was amazing for me as it allowed artists to have access to a week of working with Jonzi D and the opportunity to perform and experience hip-hop theatre right on the doorstep. The experience was fun, engaging and valuable. I’d like to say a huge thank you to Jonzi D and everyone involved. I’d also like to say a huge thank you to Avant Cymru and Rachel for making this all possible as without their hard work, we would not have been fortunate enough to have this experience here in Wrexham.’
The final word went to Rachel from Avant Cymru: ‘We would also like to mention Sound By Misfit and Alex Juzwin. They are Wrexham-based artists and they are creating opportunities in Wrexham on a regular basis.’