News

This autumn season The Riverfront started a brand-new relationship with Soho Theatre, London’s most vibrant venue for new theatre, comedy and cabaret. This partnership has already brought two award-winning international comedians to Newport, and the partnership continues with two more unmissable evenings of comedy which are very relatable for our time.

In November (Friday 15) Soho Theatre will present Kai Samra who audiences may recognise from appearances on ITV2, BBC3 and the BBC Asian Network. Kai brings his debut show Underclass to Newport, which received 5-star critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival back in August. In the show he will dissect life as a young working class British Asian in the 21st century, ranging from police stop and searches, to a complete lack of options at fancy dress parties. Prepare to also hear his personal journey from sleeping rough as a teenager to navigating his way through the comedy industry and the rise of right-wing politics in his hometown and the reasons behind it.

Shortlisted alongside Kai on The Guardian’s picks of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival was Janine Harouni, who presents her new show Stand Up with Janine Harouni (Please Remain Seated)this December (Friday 6). You may recognise multi-award winner Janine (BBC New Comedy Award 2019, Amused Moose Best Show 2019, Laughing Horse New Act of the Year 2018) from her numerous TV appearances on Comedy Central, Comic Relief and BBC Three, now she brings her fringe smash hit show all about standing up for what you believe in to Newport! Her father is a lifelong New Yorker and son of Middle Eastern immigrants. He's also an avid Donald Trump supporter. Attempting to reconcile those things makes for one tense Sunday dinner, and what is sure to be a humorous and topical show.

Award winning comedy doesn’t stop there, as The Riverfront also welcomes a one-woman science comedy musical about the neuroscience of love and loneliness direct from a summer at the Adelaide Fringe. Lovecraft (Not the Sex Shop in Cardiff)(Thursday 14 November) promises to be a funny and joyous show that features some entertaining science added to the mix. The show combines heartfelt tales of relationship highs, lows and the downright confusing as audiences experience a romp through lust, life and loneliness complete with 80s power ballads and a Tinder profile. Come along to The Riverfront as Carys explains how love works within all of us, why it makes up do crazy things and why hugging is the answer!

To book tickets for these fantastic evenings of comedy call 01633 656757 or visit tickets.newportlive.co.uk.

%MCEPASTEBIN%

Newport Live have reopened the former YMCA Newport in Pillgwenlly and have renamed the venue as Connect Centre.

 The re-naming of the building and its new logo stems from Newport Live’s desire to celebrate and support the community by building meaningful connections that will enable people of all ages to benefit from sport, leisure and cultural activities. By taking over the operation of the building Newport Live hopes Connect Centre will be an asset to the communities that stretch across Newport including Pillgwenlly, Maesglas, Duffryn, Gear, St Woolas and Mon Bank and that they can continue to develop partnerships, products and services that inspire its residents to be happier and healthier.

Newport Live’s seventh and newest venue also houses their award-winning Sports Development team who facilitate high quality sporting opportunities for children, families, schools, communities, sports clubs, and local groups across Newport.

Connect Centre was made possible due to a Places for Sport Grant awarded to Newport Live by Sport Wales as part of a £1m investment into 118 sports clubs and organisations in Wales to help modernise, protect or create new sporting facilities. 

New Connect Centre Tone, Dance and Relax classes have been created and launch on 28th October, they include Tai Chi, Pilates, Pound and Yoga and will be available at £4 per session. Until 1st December you can try these classes for just £2 per session.

John Harrhy Chairman of Newport Live said “Connect Centre will allow residents of Pillgwenlly and beyond to enjoy the lifelong benefits of sport and physical activity. It will also provide Newport Live Sports Development team with a new home from where they can continue to facilitate high quality sporting opportunities for the city of Newport. Sport and physical activity can have such a positive impact on people's lives; the creation of Connect Centre and the delivery of engaging activities cements Newport Live’s vision to inspire people to be happier and healthier.”

Media and the general public will be invited to an Open Day during November. The event will include a chance for the public to see the new facilities and find out more about Connect Centre Classes.

For further enquiries about the Connect Centre please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01633 656757.

This year for World Mental Health Day (10 October) Newport’s The Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre will be presenting a brand-new studio theatre show which they have co-produced with Four in Four Productions.

Gods & Kings (9 – 11 October) is an emotionally honest and darkly funny account of what it is like to live a life ruled by mental illness. Set in Newport, the drama tells the true story of Paul who aged 23 and as a student studying in the city walks into a psychiatrist’s office believing he is either a god or a king. He leaves the office with a life changing diagnosis of bipolar manic depression.

Performed both in English by actor Robert Bowman and also through integrated British Sign Language by BSL performer Sami Thorpe, the thought provoking, powerful and moving two man drama follows the true story of Paul as he faces a life altering decision: take the pill and live, or don’t take the pill and die. Although tackling a serious topic, Gods & Kings features some light-hearted and comic moments as Paul comes to terms with his diagnosis; ‘if you can’t laugh at life’s misfortunes then surely they will kill you.’

After each performance there will be a post-show creative conversation with the creators and service users Paul and Tamsin, as well as a panel of special guests from across the health and social care sector. The purpose of the conversations are to open up discussions around the play and also start wider conversations around mental health as a whole in a safe and supported environment. Guest taking part in the conversations include representatives from Harmoni Cymru, Public Health Wales, the Mental Health Foundation, Gwent Arts in Health and local AM Jayne Bryant. Resources will accompany the production to help connect local people to mental health charities.

Writer Paul says, ‘At points this story is excruciatingly uncomfortable for me to share but on deciding to share my personal life in this way I knew the best way to make it mean something was to keep it authentic. There are moments from my life that I still can’t watch when they are portrayed on the stage because they will always be a part of me, but I know the value in sharing them by the comments that people have made after seeing it. And it’s the brutal honesty that people truly connect to.’

Co-director Tamsin adds, ‘We feel like this is a story that a lot of people connect to. It allows people to connect with the character in different ways. Even if they don't understand anything about bipolar, they can empathise or gain an insight into the world of mental illness, and then that opens a whole breadth of conversation. What you get, is an insight into what happens after Paul leaves the psychiatrist room with a decision, "Do I take the Lithium, or don't I take the Lithium? What part of me is me, and what part of me is the mental health? And if I take the Lithium, what parts of me will remain and what parts will I lose?" That's where it becomes about the dilemma of identity and I think that's what most people can really identify with. Through our lives, we all have those moments where we start to question who we are and our identity and our purpose.’

Dr John Boulton, Director of NHS Quality Improvement and Patient Safety/1000 Lives Improvement Service, Public Health Wales comments, ‘Gods and Kings provides a surprising, powerful and important insight into mental health service user experience and is a must-see for anyone with a role, or interest in, mental health. The play puts the patient at the heart of the story and challenges the audience with humour and grit. It is both a work of art, and a practical learning opportunity for colleagues in health and care.’

To find out who will appear at each conversation, and for tickets for the show call 01633 656757 or visit newportlive.co.uk/riverfront. There are a limited number of £5 tickets available for these shows for those aged 15 – 25.

Changes to Free Swimming in Newport  

This October, changes will be made to the Free Swimming sessions available across Newport Live venues. 

Following an independent review of the Free Swimming Initiative a new national scheme has been introduced from 1st October 2019 with new objectives set out and a reduction in budget from the Welsh Government.  

This will impact on the number of free swimming sessions available at Newport Centre, the Regional Pool & Tennis Centre at Newport International Sports Village and Active Living Centre.

Under 17s Free Swimming  
Active Living Centre - Sunday, 2pm-3pm  
Newport Centre - Saturday, 1pm-3pm   
Regional Pool & Tennis Centre - Sunday, 3pm-5pm   
*Additional free swimming will be available in School Summer Holidays  

Over 60s Free Swimming  
Active Living Centre: Monday 8pm-9pm, Saturday 1pm-2pm   
Newport Centre: Monday 7.15am-9am, Friday 10am-1pm, Tuesday 6pm-7.30pm  
Regional Pool & Tennis Centre: Wednesday 6am-8am, Thursday 1pm-4pm, Sunday 3pm-5pm  

Free access to public sessions will also still be available to under 4s, veterans, carers and under 17s with a monthly direct debit swimming lesson subscription.  

We appreciate that for some, free swimming has enabled them to access a service that wouldn’t have been accessible previously. In light of these changes, to support access to swimming at Newport Live venues we have also introduced the following;  

  • £2.40 for our instructor taught aqua classes for over 60s (a 40% reduction in the price)
  • £2.20 for public swim for over 60s (a 40% reduction in the price)
  • Introduction of a new monthly membership option for over 60s giving access to Public Swimming and Aqua Classes for £15 per month or the equivalent of £11.25 per month with an annual membership. More details can be found here: www.newportlive.co.uk/membership

Newport Live will subsidise access to current sessions for the first 2 weeks of the new Free Swimming Initiative in order to support customers with the adjustments, meaning that changes in free access to public swim and classes will not be implemented until Monday 14th October.

Newport Live will also be re-investing in additional aquatic equipment and inflatable play equipment, lockers and hairdryers in order to introduce new classes and sessions for customers and improve customer facilities.   

We greatly value our customers so if you have further queries regarding the Free Swimming sessions at Newport Live pools, please speak to a member of staff, contact 01633 656 757 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Hundreds of children in Newport were given healthy meals and access to sports and other activities this summer as part of a community improvement scheme for the school holidays.

Newport Live Sports & Physical Activity Development Team in co-operation with partners have delivered 245 hours of activity, provided 1,760 meals and engaged with 880 children at 8 different sites across Newport this summer. The Newport Fit and Fed programme provided young people especially those living in areas of deprivation to access local, safe and fun activity within their communities throughout the six week holidays. Partners included Newport City Council - Resilient Communities, Newport City Homes, Melin Homes, Gwent Police Crime Commissioner, StreetGames, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service and a host of local community organisations including RASCAL Hope Centre, Pill Millennium Centre, Share Centre, Gaer Community Network, Duffryn Forest Centre, Bettws Civil Service and Maindee Community House.

Fit and Fed is a nationwide campaign, led by the award-winning StreetGames charity, to improve the lives of disadvantaged children and young people at risk of holiday hunger, isolation, and inactivity. The programme delivered fitness activities such as football, rugby, dodgeball alongside a healthy meal. Nationally over 25,000 young people to date have benefited from the project.

Leigh Williams, Senior Sport Physical Activity Development Officer for Newport Live, said “Fit and Fed is an important campaign in Newport and is an integral part of the work Newport Live does to make a difference in the local community. The kids have loved it and had a really great time meeting new friends, playing sports and getting a good meal at the same time. The Fit and Fed programme would not be possible without the support of our partners and we hope we can continue growing the programme to help more local families.”

Newport Live is a non-profit distribution organisation and registered charity, which means the money they make is wholly reinvested into the services and facilities they offer, so all Newport Live customers are supporting the local community through the delivery of these projects and activities. 

October half-term Fit and Fed dates will be released shortly on Newport Live website at www.newportlive.co.uk and on Newport Live Sports & Physical Activity Development Team Facebook/NLSportsDevelopment and at @nlsportsdev on Twitter.

rsz landscape thunder road redcape theatre   rsz lovecraft no text   rsz 1the invisible woman two tone

This Autumn Newport’s The Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre welcome a host of high-quality new drama pieces to the theatre, all of which have either been created by award-winning Welsh companies, are set in Wales or have a Welsh cast. Unmissable dramas this season cover a variety of themes from health and wellbeing to ageing, and from love to nightlife, there is something for every age and every taste!

Written and staring Catherine Dyson, a regular face on The Riverfront stage having previously brought Transporter in 2019, Thunder Road (4 October) is a bold and original dark comedy by RedCape Theatre all about the power of the Heimlich manoeuvre, the call of the open road, and the kind of friendship you would take a bullet for. This ‘fun and feisty, quirky road trip through dreams and friendship, first aid tips and cowboy boots,’ (British Theatre Guide) confronts themes of domestic abuse, the curbing of female ambition and the portrayal of women in crime dramas as faceless victims. The drama follows Maureen and Sylvie as they embark on a First Aid training trip. When things take an unexpected turn in a Travelodge, events spin out of control and they find themselves on a life changing road trip where their friendship is tested to its limits and they must keep moving just to stay alive.

Co-produced between The Riverfront and Four in Four Production, Gods & Kings (9 – 11 October) is an emotionally honest and darkly funny account of what it is like to live a life ruled by mental illness. Set in Newport, the drama tells the true story of Paul who walks into a psychiatrist’s office believing he is either a god or a king and leaves with a diagnosis of bipolar manic depression. This thought provoking, powerful and moving drama also features some light and comic moments as Paul faces a life changing decision: take the pill and live, or don’t take the pill and die. Each performance of Gods & Kings will be British Sign Language interpreted and will be followed by a post-show panel discussion.

In late October The Riverfront welcome Theatr Clwyd’s Pavilion (22 – 25 October). This dark comedy by Wales’ Emily White and directed by Tamara Harvey (Olivier Award winner of Best Comedy for Home, I’m Darling) has chosen Newport to be its only touring venue. Featuring a star-studded Welsh cast including Ifan Huw Dafydd, Victoria John, Kristian Philips, Tim Treloar and Michael Geary (star of The Riverfront panto), the drama is set on a Friday night as The Pavilion is closing for good. Music pounds, lager flows, lust grinds and fists fly. The run-down small town in a forgotten corner of Wales is filled with big personalities and even bigger egos. The show is sure to bring back many a fond memory for audiences reminiscing of their own night’s out.

One-woman dark comedy The Invisible Woman (9 November) written by Ailsa Jenkins and starring Nicola Reynolds (High Hopes, Doctors, The Story of Tracy Beaker) is a drama all about aging ungracefully and searching for significance after becoming invisible to society. A few years ago, Mari realised she'd disappeared. Shocked but undaunted, she's decided to use this misfortune to her advantage. Get ready for red lipstick, rubber bands and retribution as Mari attempts to right the wrongs of her community. Can she make peace with the past to fix her present? Can she make herself visible to those who matter most to her? This will be a hilarious and poignant story that many will identify with.

Straight from the Adelaide Fringe The Riverfront welcomes award-winning Lovecraft (Not the Sex Shop in Cardiff) (14 November) in mid-November. Co-produced by Carys Eleri and Wales Millennium Centre, this one-woman science comedy musical explores the neuroscience of love and loneliness. Prepare to experience heartfelt tales of relationship highs, lows and the downright confusing. This personal show is told with plenty of sass, chocolate, hugs and bangin’ tunes and will help you discover how love works within all of us, why it makes us do crazy things and why hugging is the answer.

For tickets for the above drama productions call 01633 656757 or visit newportlive.co.uk/riverfront. There are a limited number of £5 tickets available for these shows for those aged 15 – 25.

rsz ntw peggys song use this image

This September Newport’s The Riverfront Theatre & Arts Centre want to find out their audience’s favourite song. This campaign runs alongside a production of National Theatre Wales’ tender, warm, poignant, moving and very funny Peggy’s Song on Wednesday 25 September.

Peggy’s Song is set in St Bevan’s Hospital during DJ Danny Walkman’s request night show. Danny’s gags and record collection might be criminal, but under it all he has a heart of gold, a quiet sadness and a real care for people. After his show, Danny has a chance encounter with Peggy. A plain- speaking firecracker, she’s been sleeping rough for years and isn’t afraid to call a spade a shovel.

The pair have nothing in common except music. Everyone likes music, don’t they? Everyone’s got a song, and if there’s one thing Danny Walkman is good at, it’s getting people to tell him what their song is. Peggy doesn’t give much away, so it’s a race against time for Danny to get past all her years of bad times to find and play Peggy’s song.

Music is a key theme throughout the play - and the idea of music as therapy to get you through difficult times, and music that moves you as an individual. Taking inspiration from the show, The Riverfront want to find out about their audience’s song choices. What are their favourite songs? Do they have a certain song linked to special memories? If their audience could only listen to one song ever again what would it be?

To let The Riverfront know what your song is, comment on their social media channels, Facebook TheRiverfront, Twitter RiverfrontArts and Instagram RiverfrontArts, or email your song selection to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You will have an opportunity to listen to the completed playlist for yourself in The Riverfront on Wednesday 25 September prior to the start of the show, or if you cant wait that long search for the playlist ‘Peggy’s Song – The Riverfront’ on Spotify (https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6JCiRxcDVOFAXL3XXE625I).

To book your tickets to Peggy’s Song on Wednesday 25 September call 01633 656757 or visit tickets.newportlive.co.uk.

 Bourgeois Maurice     Soho Theatre Touring Logo       

 

This September The Riverfront Theatre & Arts Centre starts a brand-new relationship with Soho Theatre, London’s most vibrant venue for new theatre, comedy and cabaret. Once a month The Riverfront’s Studio Theatre will open its doors and welcome some of the most exciting and fresh comedy stars on the UK and international circuit, hand-picked by Soho Theatre.

The first stars making their Newport debut in September (Friday 20) will be Bourgeois and Maurice with their show Momento Mori. Described as being a ‘philosophicLOL cabaret about the meaning of life,’ the award-winning musical duo will delve deep into a world of hyper glamour and pitch-black comedy song writing. The world may appear to be in a state of chaos but this sequin-clad duo have written many a catchy tune and witty rhyme ready to entertain the people of Newport, so we should all be okay.

In October (Wednesday 23) The Riverfront will welcome Cassie Workman, perhaps the most experienced newcomer to the comedy world given the fact she once performed under a different name. Winner of the ‘Best Newcomer’ award at the Melbourne International Comedy festival, ‘Best Comedy’ at the Adelaide Fringe and ‘Director’s Choice’ at the Sydney Comedy Festival, Cassie has recently returned to the stage after beginning her transition. Her brand-new show Giantess will interweave music, comedy, storytelling and illustration while exploring the anguish of coming to terms with a gender identity that doesn’t match your body. Over the summer this show was nominated for the Melbourne International Comedy Award for Most Outstanding Show.

For November (Friday 15) Soho Theatre will present Kai Samra: Underclass, who audiences may recognise from appearances on ITV2, BBC3 and the BBC Asian Network. This will be the award-winning stand-up comedians hotly tipped debut hour. In the show he will hilariously dissect life as a young working class British Asian in the 21st century, ranging from police stop and searches, to a complete lack of options at fancy dress parties. Prepare to also hear personal stories of homelessness, the gentrification of the arts, and the rise of right-wing politics in his hometown.

The Riverfront’s final show from Soho Theatre in the autumn season will be Stand Up with Janine Harouni (Please Remain Seated)(Friday 6 December). Winner of the Laughing Horse New Act of the Year 2018, Janine’s show is all about standing up for what you believe in, even if you must do it really nicely! Her father is a lifelong New Yorker and son of Middle Eastern immigrants. He's also an avid Donald Trump supporter. Attempting to reconcile those things makes for one tense Sunday dinner, and a very interesting debut show in Newport.

To book tickets for the above events call 01633 656757 or visit tickets.newportlive.co.uk.

rsz 1 can4520      rsz can4616

We are down to double figures now as there are less than 100 days to go until The Riverfront Theatre & Arts Centre’s magical festive pantomime Cinderella opens. As this fun-filled pantomime for all the family draws ever closer The Riverfront were thrilled to welcome some of its principle cast members on to the stage this week for a day of filming, photography and a lot of fun!

Riverfront pantomime regular Richard Elis (Muddles, Sleeping Beauty 2018) met Pobol y Cwm actor Geraint Rhys Edwards, who this Christmas and New Year will perform side by side as Cinders’ Ugly Stepsisters. The comedy and charisma between the pair was instant; audiences will be in for a treat with the mischief the pair are likely to cause!

Cinderella played by Monmouth’s Laura Meaton met her Prince Charming, Newport’s Gareth Tempest who audiences may be remember as Jack from The Riverfront panto Jack & The Beanstalk in 2015. Was it love at first sight? Audiences will have to wait until November to find out! An extra special dose of magic and sparkle was brought to the day by Fairy Godmother (Rachel Waring).

Whilst at The Riverfront, our Prince Charming and Fairy Godmother greeted young fans who were attending the afternoon cinema screening. Cinderella and her Ugly Stepsisters dropped into Tin Shed Theatre Company’s Hatch Summer School and were impressed by the acting and improvisation skills of the young actors in the making.

There is still time for young people aged 9 – 13 to join the fantastic cast of Cinderella and have a festive season to remember as The Riverfront are holding open auditions to find the young company on Sunday 8 September between 10am and 2pm. For more information on auditions, please contact The Riverfront Box Office on 01633 656757 or visit newportlive.co.uk.

Bigger and more magical than ever, The Riverfront’s fun-filled pantomime for all the family will be jam-packed with magic, incredible song and dance numbers, and of course lots of festive sparkle. Tickets for some performances have already sold out so audiences will need to book fast, by calling 01633 656757 or by visiting tickets.newportlive.co.uk.

 18.05.16 mh Stifyn Parri 113        Hazel OConnor Interview

 

The Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre, Newport are delighted to welcome a host of famous faces from the stage and screen to their auditoriums this autumn and winter season for several high-quality evenings of entertainment.

In September ‘The Greatest Rock & Roll Band in the World’ Showaddywaddy (Sat 21 Sep) will be dropping into Newport for a dynamic and lively show featuring their biggest hits, many of which reached number one in the pop charts of Europe. Showaddywaddy have toured extensively all over the world for the last four decades and have sold more than 20 million records. The Riverfront invite you to join them for a ‘Dancin Party’ this autumn!

September will also see the return of Lesley Garrett (Wed 25 Sep) who last appeared in Newport in 2018 at the premier of Welsh National Opera’s award-winning Rhondda Rips it Up! based on the life of suffragette Margaret Haig Thomas. Britain’s most popular soprano will be returning for a delightful evening of song, reminiscence and chat with pianist Anna Tilbrook. Audiences can expect behind the scenes stories and anecdotes which will give them a unique insight into Lesley’s life and career.

TV legend Count Arthur Strong will make an appearance in October as part of his Is There Anybody Out There? tour (Thu 3 Oct). As well as being the all-round entertainer we all know and love from TV and radio, Count Arthur is also a big fan of astronomy and in this show will answer some big questions such as ‘are we alone in the universe?’ and ‘is there life on Mars bars?’ In his own words, ‘Do not miss this not to be missed type of thing! If I wasn’t in the show I’d definitely be in the audience watching myself intently. Laughing and learning in equal measure.’

Big names from the world of TV also taking to the stage in October are Tommy Cannon (Cannon and Ball) and Crissy Rock (Benidorm and I’m a Celebrity), both of whom feature amongst a star-studded cast in Right Place! Wrong Time!! (Tue 8 Oct). Described as being ‘seriously dead funny,’ the smash hit comedy play is an up-lifting tale guaranteed to make you feel life’s party never ends- it simply moves to another location.

Welsh entrepreneur and entertainer Stifyn Parri visits Newport for two special dates on his Shut Your Mouth | Cau Dy Geg tour, the first a Welsh language show (Wed 16 Oct) and the second an English language show (Fri 18 Oct). The former Brookside and Les Miserable’s star will being a cheeky and charming mix of comic and poignant anecdotes of his showbiz life. From backstage drama, royalty, coming out, behind the camera secrets to celebrity gossip, Stifyn comments ‘I have been lucky enough to have lead an incredibly colourful life packed with celebrities, show-biz weddings, royalty, tantrums, backstage dramas, good times and bad times and I cannot wait to be able to share these stories with the audience.’

A face you will soon see everywhere thanks to it being the cover photo of The Riverfront’s autumn winter brochure is Griff Rhys Jones (Wed 30 Oct.) One half of Smith & Jones, one quarter of Not the Nine O'Clock News and one third of Three Men In a Boat, Griff will presents an evening of hilarious true stories, riffs, observations and details of his recent medical procedures. His All Over the Place show is guaranteed to be packed with wicked insights into the pains of celebrity, the vicissitudes of parenthood and encounters with the great, the good and even the royal.

Award winning singer-songwriter Hazel O’Connor (Sat 2 Nov) will perform at The Riverfront in November with the proceeds of her concert going to Pups & Purrs an animal charity for which she is a patron. Hazel will perform the ageless songs from iconic film Breaking Glass alongside Clare Hirst on saxophone and Sarah Fisher on keyboard.

These exciting shows make up part of a fantastic season of Welsh drama, music, family shows, cinema, workshops and of course The Riverfront’s annual pantomime Cinderella! For tickets to all these fantastic star-studded shows coming up at The Riverfront during their autumn and winter season visit tickets.newportlive.co.uk or call 01633 656757.