Pioneering Theatre, Dance, Comedy, Cabaret, Film & Street Theatre Pop-Ups

16 June – 2 July 2022
Cardiff – Bangor – Llanelli – Online

Hijinx’s Unity Festival is one of Europe’s largest inclusive and disability arts festivals and the only one of its kind in Wales. Its long-awaited return marks its 10th edition and to celebrate, a bumper programme is set to delight audiences across Wales and beyond! Unity Festival, brought to you by Hijinx, one of Europe’s leading inclusive theatre companies, presents a diverse programme that is jam-packed with over 100 events across 17 days that will span Cardiff (Wales Millennium Centre, Porters, Chapter and The Hayes) Bangor (Pontio) and Llanelli (Ffwrnes) from 16 June to 2 July 2022. Several performances will be available to enjoy livestreamed or on demand via a new digital platform called Hijinx Mobile, in partnership with Spain’s Escena Mobile, which will be accessible via the Hijinx website.

Hijinx’s Artistic Director and curator of the Unity Festival, Ben Pettitt-Wade said:

“We are thrilled to be re-launching the Unity Festival in Wales this year and after a five-year hiatus we are going to be back better than ever! Get ready for lots of exciting theatre, dance, comedy, film, street theatre pop-ups and a new hybrid production. It will be a spectacular showcase of outstanding art in all forms by performers who are learning disabled and/or autistic and will feature acts from Wales, UK, throughout Europe and beyond.” 

Hijinx’s Associate Artist, Richard Newnham said:

“I believe what works about the Unity Festival is that it showcases the magnificent talent that the general public might otherwise be unaware of. Where better to see a wide array of talented actors, comedians and dancers on such a diverse and international level.”

Unity Festival will once again be bringing together some of the best inclusive and disability arts and theatre from around the world to showcase right here in Wales, including About Face, Avant Cymru with Ill-Abilities, Cheryl Beer, Compagnie DK-BEL, Danza Mobile, Drag Syndrome, House of Deviant, Kitsch & Sync, l’Oiseau-Mouche, Mind The Gap, Ramshacklicious, Solidarity of Hope Collective, Splatch Arts, Stop Gap, Taking Flight and tanzbar_bremen. Hijinx’s own productions; Rock Cliché, Grumpy Unicorns, The Astronauts will be making an appearance alongside some exciting new performances from the Hijinx Academy and PAWB groups. There will also be a second chance to see Hijinx’s brand-new hybrid theatre experience, the_crash.test, following its premiere in May, plus a mixture of free, ticketed and online events to engage with, ensuring people can participate in the fun in-person as well as from home, across the world.

Ben Pettitt-Wade explained:

“The digital platform will include a programme of recorded and live streamed content from our own Hijinx Unity Festival and the Escena Mobile Festival in Seville. But it will be more than a space to see the work of both festivals, it will also be a network which will enable audiences to leave comments and interact with one another and the artists involved. It is something completely new for our event and we are very excited to share a flavour of our festivals with new audiences and create an accessible option for those who may not be able to attend in person.” 

The festival kicks off in Cardiff 16 – 26 June before touring to Bangor’s Pontio 28 – 29 June, then Llanelli’s Ffwrnes 1-2 July, with a special programme of satellite events at each location.

Opening the festival in high spirits on 16 June will be a brand-new Comedy Night in Porters, Cardiff. Assembled by Hijinx’s Associate Artist Richard Newnham, the evening will feature Wales’ Dan Mitchell (“Absolutely brilliant” Ross Noble) plus Juliana Heng (Malaysia), Sha Rita (USA), Chiron Barron (Canada).

The festivities will then move to Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre for the Unity Festival’s inaugural Film Festival 20 – 21 June. Showcasing some of the best, recent, inclusive film work from Wales, the UK, and internationally, this festival-within-a-festival will mix features, shorts, premieres, panel discussions and more. Traveling versions of the Film Festival will also visit Bangor and Llanelli. The full schedule of films and events will be published later in May.

Between 22 – 26 June, the Wales Millennium Centre will be host to free events in the foyer, including a new production with Hijinx Academies and Kitsch & Sync collective which involves human hamsters and zorb balls! Ticketed events will take place in the Weston Studio including the hotly anticipated return of Danza Mobile, one of Europe’s most successful inclusive dance companies who present a playful look of what makes us, us, in El festín de los cuerpos.

There is also a haunting, topical, and political piece by Vero Cendoya Dance Company, whose compelling, dance-theatre epic BOGUMER (or Children of Lunacharsky) explores the dynamics of power, set in Moscow in 1919.

Hijinx’s newest work the_crash.test, is a thought-provoking, funny and visually immersive delight set not-too-far in the future. Incorporating motion capture puppetry, large scale projection and original composition, the_crash.test presents an inclusive cast of performers on stage and via video link, designed for audiences both in-person and online.

The finale of the Cardiff showcase coincides with the end of Mencap’s Learning Disability Week, so Hijinx are teaming up with Mencap Cymru to bring you Drag Syndrome (& friends); the ground-breaking, internationally acclaimed drag collective featuring highly addictive drag Queens and Kings with Down’s syndrome. Cardiff’s own House of Deviant will be supporting this performance.

On Saturday 25 June, there will be free street theatre pop-ups in the (hopefully!) glorious sunshine on The Hayes. Artists confirmed so far include Hijinx’s Rock Cliché, The Astronauts and Grumpy Unicorns; Mind the Gap, About Face, Avant Cymru, tanzbar_bremen, and Danza Mobile.

Disability Arts Cymru and Hijinx have also commissioned a new piece of disability art to be performed as part of the Unity Festival. After receiving several high-quality proposals, Hijinx are thrilled to announce Solidarity of Hope have been selected, and they can’t wait to see what they create. Led by Rachel Gadsden and Helen Roeten, the project will engage with 10 Wales based disabled artists to create an event which will be part of the Hijinx programme in Llanelli and online.

More acts and artists and the full schedule for all venues will be announced in the next few weeks.

For more information, please visit: www.hijinx.org.uk/unity2022
Social media: @hijinxtheatre #Unity10

Hijinx returns to the stage and screen with a new darkly playful Frankenstein tale for our age

Award-winning theatre company, Hijinx, presents a provocative, funny, and visually immersive delight set not too far in the future. the_crash.test will open at Wales Millennium Centre on 13 & 14 May followed by its international debut at Mittenmang Festival in Bremen, and additional performances as part of the Hijinx Unity Festival in June and July 2022 in Cardiff, Bangor and Llanelli.

Incorporating motion capture puppetry, large scale projection and original composition, the_crash.test presents an inclusive cast of performers on stage and via video link, for audiences both in person and online. 

Known for its pioneering, inclusive theatre work that is original, surprising, edgy, and funny and in huge demand across the globe, Hijinx’s newest production draws a parallel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and our relationship with technology. A comedic venture into the world of A.I. and the robotic versions of ourselves we might create in the future. the_crash.test features tech start up Figital who are on a mission to create the next big thing; “the thing we never knew we wanted, but it turns out we all needed. A new thing-a-me-bob. Or ‘Bob’ for short”. However, they don’t quite know how it works or the consequences of their new creation!

Hijinx’s Artistic Director and Director of the_crash.test, Ben Pettitt-Wade said,

We are continually looking at new ways of creating our work and new ways of providing a platform for our brilliant artists. Interaction has always been important to our performances, the challenge we have set ourselves is to provide an interactive experience that is equal, though different, for an audience online and in person. As ever our artists have been at the heart of creating this production, bringing with it their unique perspective and creativity. We can’t wait to share it with you”

This latest work is the third in a series of ‘Hybrid Theatre’ explorations, fusing performance and technology by the Cardiff based company who pioneer, produce, and promote opportunities for actors with learning disabilities and/or autism. 

In 2020, Hijinx’s critically acclaimed online digital performance Metamorphosis premiered at the Green Man Festival and signified the beginning of the company’s pursuit of boundary-breaking ways that culture can be delivered, performed and enjoyed. The work was widely praised for its innovative use of Zoom, which even garnered an award at that year’s Good The@tre Awards by Red Curtain International.. Hijinx are also partners in a pioneering cultural exchange, “EyeSeeAi”, working with several Vietnamese companies to test and explore new ways of creating AR performances and develop an app with actors with learning disabilities and autism based in Wales and Vietnam. 

the_crash.test will have BSL and audio description on 14 May. The online version of the event will be live captioned for every performance. 

The production will later feature as part of Hijinx’s eagerly awaited, Unity Festival returning to Cardiff, Bangor and Llanelli for its tenth edition!

Confirmed Cast to include:

Production Team:

Performances

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Friday 13 May, 8pm

Saturday 14 May, 8pm

Venue Tickets: https://www.wmc.org.uk/en/whats-on/2022/the-crash-test

To watch online: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/Hijinx/e-yvbvxk

For further information please visit hijinx.org.uk, @hijinxtheatre #letsgetfigital 

the_crash.test  is brought to you by Hijinx in partnership with Wales Millennium Centre, Pontio and Ffrwnes and is generously supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Colwinston Charitable Trust, Tŷ Cerdd, the Arts Council of Wales, the Welsh Assembly Goverment. 

One of Europe’s leading inclusive theatre companies, Hijinx, is continuing to drive forward the important message of the creative industries working inclusively in Wales and beyond, with more actors with learning disabilities and autism represented and visible on screen. 

Over the next few weeks some of Hijinx’s actors will be seen on stage and screen, including one actor, Justin Melluish, taking a lead role in the hit BBC One Wales drama, Hidden.  

This will be the final instalment of the series of Hidden, where DCI Cadi John (Sian Reese-Williams) and DS Owen Vaughan (Siôn Alun Davies) return to BBC One Wales and BBC Four. Justin will play, Glyn, who is the brother of a local labourer Siôn Thomas (played by Sion Ifan).  

Hidden production company, Seven Screen, S4C and BBC Wales worked collaboratively in partnership with Hijinx. Seven Screen, producer Hannah Thomas said, 

Working with Hijinx gave us an opportunity to review our practices, to think how we work and be more inclusive, which we will be taking forward into other productions.  Justin is an incredibly talented actor and working with Hijinx through the casting process made us aware of the breadth of talent available and I hope other producers will consider their approach.” 

This is the first leading TV role for Justin.

It was a great experience to meet the cast and crew. They are lovely people to work with and I bonded with my brother Sion in the series.” 

Justin Melluish – Hijinx Actor

While Justin Melluish will be seen on BBC, this calendar year alone, many of Hijinx actors are auditioning for other television roles.

“14 of our actors have auditioned for prime-time television roles, large-scale theatre productions and ground-breaking virtual reality projects. The remainder of the year is set to be a busy one for the talented Hijinx Actors.”

Ellen Groves – Head of Business Development, Hijinx

Hijinx’s pioneering training programme has made significant changes to the perception of how actors with learning disabilities and/or autism are seen on stage, screen and in the community. In its recent Social Impact Report, researchers had found that Hijinx had changed the way the creative industries operated since 2019.  

As part of their ambition to increase representation of learning disabled and/or autistic people on stage and screen, Hijinx are in the process of developing a range of support services for the screen sector to help productions to work more inclusively.  

Supported by Clwstwr, the Inclusive Film project is working with production companies around Wales, including Severn Screen, to research and develop training for people working on productions to communicate more effectively, alongside consultancy support, to drive more inclusive ways of working that will help create more employment opportunities within the sector. 

At Hijinx we see the power of theatre and the arts to transform on a daily basis. We are proud to create work and experiences that change people’s perceptions, and create changes that lead to increased opportunities, but we know we still need to do a lot more, especially at this time of recovery. We want to ensure our communities are not excluded from engaging with the arts after the pandemic. We, alongside many other organisations and individuals, will continue to lobby for inclusive provision for artists, participants and audiences. We want the screen and stage industries to follow the Seven Industry Principles, a new guide to support the industry to make decisions inclusively, to go beyond compliance and celebrate diversity, and to see a truly inclusive recovery.” 

Sarah Horner – Chief Executive, Hijinx

Hijinx’s Social Impact Report was supported by Lloyds Bank Foundation. 

Hidden airs on BBC One Wales on Wednesday 16 March at 9pm and on BBC Four on 19 March at 9pm. The series will also be available to watch on iPlayer. 

“I feel like I’ve already learnt so much from this project alone.”

It’s the second day of my new job and I’m on a Zoom call with a group of creatives from Hanoi, discussing an app-based Augmented Reality project that will allow people to access performances here and there, triggered by certain landmarks in each city (Cardiff and Hanoi). Adapting to both online working and a language difference, I listen as one person says something, which is then translated and then a response, which also needs to be translated. It’s clearly a flow that everyone in the call is used to, even if it appears somewhat chaotic to a newbie. A feeling that I now think is very Hijinx.

I’m Bron, I joined Hijinx as Assistant Producer in November, and have since been on numerous walks around Cardiff testing the app and seeing this international collaboration take shape. When starting this job amid COVID-19 I wouldn’t have expected to be working on an international project – the varying restrictions made it seem implausible – but it’s clear that the companies behind this collaboration are passionate about bringing these performances to life, COVID or not. Which meant this digital, app-based project took shape. Although in those first couple of weeks I must admit the app was not exactly reflecting all of this work.

But, as always, there was a way to fix this. Between the two teams we took hundreds of pictures of each of the performance sites, from every angle that was useful. All of this was then fed into the app, and we got a new version to test. In the meantime, we’ve had meetings to discuss the app launch, the conversations we want to happen and who’ll be there…the app may not be finished yet, but there’s a determination to see the project through.

A determination that has paid off. The first time I held my phone up at site 1 and performers appeared it felt like a little victory. And I could see how this would work for audiences moving from landmark to landmark to experience the collaboration in both Cardiff and Hanoi.

I feel like I’ve already learnt so much from this project alone. What it means to be part of the Hijinx team, how we create connections and friendships even in the toughest of times, and how to make a project work even when it may seem there’s a lot stacked against you. I am really excited for the app to be finished so we can share this wonderful experience with everyone in Cardiff and Hanoi!

Bron Davies, Assistant Producer

Relentless, is the word that comes up time after time to describe the last 18 months. I think it’s fair to say we’re all pretty tired and I confess it’s not quite how I imagined my first two years at Hijinx…

But a few weeks ago, while sat in a minibus safely out of shot while we made our next short film, I had a little moment of calm as I looked out over the big skies of Snowdonia. I paused, took a deep breath and realised that wherever I looked out, somewhere out there was some Hijinx magic happening.

Just up the road Andrew Tadd, one of our outstanding actors, was working with our indefatigable freelance crew on his scenes, while hundreds of miles south his fellow Hijinx actors Ffi, Iwan and Lindsay were in Brittany, finally back on tour in France with Meet Fred with the rest of the cast and production manager extraordinaire Tom.

Odyssey members were rehearsing for their Christmas return to the Wales Millennium Centre, while our young people’s theatre members were planning and making their next projects. As we wrapped on filming the team in Cardiff were finalising arrangements ahead of workshops with Frantic Assembly, while the theatre team were gearing up for our next digital adventure exploring augmented reality!

Safely back home, with the washing on and dog snoozing, the weekend’s TV viewing was an easy choice with South Academy’s Lindsay Foster starring in that week’s episode of Casualty on BBC One. The week rounded off perfectly with Craith on S4C featuring North Academy actor Justin – we were all hooked #NoSpoilers.

So now it’s time for another pause, another deep breath, and we’re on to the next year, full of activity, creativity and for me infused with a huge amount of gratitude. Gratitude for the whole Hijinx family.

You can’t always see it from the outside, but Hijinx is a massive, dedicated, loving and humbling team experience. A group of staff, actors, participants, families, freelancers and volunteers who relentlessly seek out shared adventures in creativity. I had a few of those adventures in the wet and windy Welsh mountains making the film, and I am certain there will be many more to come. I am grateful for them already.

Diolch i bawb.

Sarah Horner, Chief Executive

Image by Jonathan Dunn

Text PAWB to 70580 to donate £12 to our community strand PAWB (costs £12 plus std msg rate). Thank you!

Bringing people together to help fundraise across 12 Days of PAWB.

Following the success of an online festive festival of creativity in 2020, Hijinx will once again be bringing together participants from PAWB, its pan-Wales inclusive community programme, to create, perform and engage online in the 12 Days of PAWB.

Cardiff based theatre company, Hijinx, makes outstanding theatre productions with learning disabled and/or autistic actors. Due to the pandemic, Hijinx’s 2020 festive Odyssey performance at Wales Millennium Centre had to be postponed until 2021. Instead a reimagined seasonal gathering took place online as part of 12 Days of PAWB.

Hijinx will be programming 12 Days of PAWB as predominantly virtual events, which will feature its adult company Odyssey, its Youth Theatre groups in Cardiff and Bangor, Drama Foundations groups and Pathways.

12 Days of PAWB starts on 1 December with the fundraising launch and a dedicated day of fundraising on 22 December. As part of the 12 Days of PAWB, Hijinx has set themselves the challenge of raising £1,200, asking people to kindly donate £12 towards the Hijinx PAWB programme. PAWB runs throughout the year across Wales. Donations will go directly to running PAWB and its programme of activity.

Regarded as Wales’ leading inclusive theatre company, Hijinx produces high quality performances and activities. It strives for equality by making outstanding art with learning disabled and/or autistic actors on stage, on screen, on the street, in the workplace, locally, nationally and internationally for Wales and for the world.

Creating the opportunity for participants and audiences to engage online and in person is so important for us. We won’t stop doing both. We have seen the impact it has had and how access for both is needed. Our Social Impact Report research shows the performing arts are a vehicle for health and wellbeing, and increase happiness in people’s lives. For every £1 invested in Hijinx we turned that into £4.84 of social value. That’s a grand total of £4.5 million. We do stretch our money to deliver as much as we can, but we need your help to keep supporting what we do and in the future.

Sarah Horner, Chief Executive

Last year’s event was so successful in bringing everyone together after the disappointment of not creating something to be performed at Christmas. This year, as well as performing in person our Hijinx Odyssey show, Pinocchio and the Northern Lights, at Wales Millennium Centre, we will continue to run our 12 Days of PAWB throughout December showcasing the many wonderful projects that our participants have been working on right across Wales. We know many of our participants and audiences still want to continue to engage with us online and we want to ensure we can connect with them at this time of year.”

Jon Dafydd-Kidd, Head of Participation

Some of the activity you can expect to see…

Hijinx will be collaborating with illustration students from University of South Wales, Cardiff Metropolitan University and Coleg Menai who will exhibit their work on the Hijinx website, launching on the 3rd Day of PAWB, 6 December. Their work has been inspired by attending different PAWB group sessions, both online and in-person.

Hijinx’s South based Young People’s theatre group Telemachus will be sharing a digital video on Wednesday 8 December of their recent project Light from the Past. Telemachus is a sister project to Odyssey and is an inclusive group for young people with and without learning disabilities aged 16-24.

Telemachus, North Youth People’s Theatre and Odyssey will be hosting an interactive online community workshop on 13 December – booking is required.

Released last year as part of 12 Days of PAWB, Vaguely Artistic’s Christmas Single will be shared online again on Boxing Day. Vaguely Artistic was sponsored by Cardiff & Vale Health Charity and Arts & Business Cymru to create a Christmas single and video and featured a host of familiar faces.

We hope you enjoy seeing the content this year!

Thank you to the Arts Council Wales, the Welsh Government, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Simon Gibson Charitable Trust and the Moondance Foundation.

One of Europe’s leading inclusive theatre companies, Hijinx Theatre, is creating significant life changes for its actors, participants, and their families, as well as changing perceptions of learning disabilities and /or autism (LD/A) on stage and screen, as shown in a new Social Impact Report.

Regarded as Wales’ leading inclusive theatre company, Hijinx produces high quality performances and activities. It strives for equality by making outstanding art with learning disabled and/or autistic actors on stage, on screen, on the street, in the workplace, locally, nationally and internationally for Wales and for the world.

Conducted by Abigail Tweed – Milestone Tweed & Mark Richardson Social Impact Consulting, Hijinx’s Social Impact Report captures the personal life changing stories of the people they work with and demonstrates the huge social economic value of the arts. The research shows the performing arts are a vehicle for health and wellbeing, and increase happiness in people’s lives. 

In 2019-20 Hijinx generated over £4.5 million in social value. That means that for every £1 invested in Hijinx, £4.84 of social value was generated. This is equal to, on average, 73,770 weekly shops in the UK.

The findings in this report clearly demonstrate the life enhancing impact Hijinx has on the lives of our actors and their parents and communities by building confidence and independence and increasing happiness. The report also shows how we create significant value in wider society by changing the perceptions of people who work with us, attend our performances, or experience our training courses.

James Downes, Chair, Hijinx

Some of the key findings included:

Hijinx actor, Lindsay Foster, now lives on her own and tours  the world with Hijinx’s shows. She said:

I went from a meek shy girl who wouldn’t do anything to an independent confident girl who is confident to go travelling and they [my parents] don’t have to worry about me. Thanks to adult placement and Hijinx I’m here doing what I do today. They are awesome. They’ve helped me a lot.

Lindsay Foster, Hijinx Actor

Hijinx parent, Alison Powell said:

Hijinx has given Tom a far stronger sense of himself and his disability – far more self-assured and able to speak up about his strengths and abilities. It’s increased his verbal dexterity, his ability to explain himself and express his needs and preferences and emotions. It’s also transformed his sight reading – utterly transformed. He can now read fairly fluently; certainly he has functional reading where he didn’t have before.

Alison Powell, Parent of Hijinx Actor

I was told in school that acting was not for me and that I should go into accountancy. But I can do it. I look forward to every day.

Ashford Richards, Hijinx Actor

As well as the report demonstrating how arts engagement improves happiness and wellbeing, Hijinx has reported significant change within the sector:

Their pioneering training programme has made significant changes to the perception of how learning disabled and or autistic (LD/A) people are seen on stage, screen and in the community.

BBC Wales | S4C’s Craith | Hidden features Justin Melluish, a neurodivergent actor playing one of the main roles in the new series, which has just finished on S4C but still available on BBCiPlayer, and will be on BBC Wales next year.

Working with Hijinx gave us an opportunity to review our practices, to think how we work and be more inclusive, which we will be taking forward into other productions. Justin is an incredibly talented actor, and working with Hijinx through the Casting process made us aware of the breadth of talent available and I hope other producers will consider their approach.

Severn Screen, Producers of Craith | Hidden

This is the first leading TV role for Justin.

It was a great experience to meet the cast and crew. They are lovely people to work with and I bonded with my brother Sion in the series. Thank you for seven screen to pick me. I can’t believe it, it’s my dream come true.

Justin Melluish, Hijinx Actor

One other industry partner said:

““Hijinx show that it’s possible to work with people with autism or learning difficulties on an equal footing, taking into account our different needs, by providing a structure to work within and support for everyone in the room.

Hijinx create simply the best work. With all, for all, and taken everywhere. They have made inclusive work something we should all be doing.

Parents also shared the importance and invaluable need for Hijinx and the arts over the last 18 months, especially for those who have been isolating, shielding during the pandemic. Amanda Freeman, whose daughter Bethany has attended Hijinx Academy in Carmarthenshire for the last two years said,

They treat Bethany with the utmost respect. During COVID they kept Bethany, and us too, connected and motivated through some difficult times. They supported us and helped us come up with creative ways of doing things.

Amanda Freeman

Hijinx has been pioneering in the way they train, and support, contributing to changing perceptions of people with learning disabilities and / or autism.

Sarah Horner, Chief Executive of Hijinx, said:

At Hijinx we see the power of theatre and the arts to transform on a daily basis and that has been so important over the last 18 months. To see this evidenced so clearly in this report is wonderful. It shows the huge impact that Hijinx, and the arts, have on those involved, and the wider benefit for families and communities. 

We are proud to create work and experiences that change people’s perceptions, and create changes that lead to increased opportunities, but we know we still need to do a lot more, especially at this time of recovery. We want to ensure our communities are not excluded from engaging with the arts after the pandemic. We, alongside many other organisations and individuals, will continue to lobby for inclusive provision for artists, participants and audiences. We want the screen and stage industries to follow the Seven Industry Principles, a new guide to support the industry to make decisions inclusively, to go beyond compliance and celebrate diversity, and to see a truly inclusive recovery.

Sarah Horner, CEO, Hijinx

Phil George, Chair of the Arts Council of Wales said,

The Arts Council of Wales is proud to support Hijinx as a key Welsh theatre company. Hijinx is at the cutting edge of stage and screen work with learning disabled and autistic actors of extraordinary talent. It is internationally recognised and valued for this work but crucially, it changes lives in families and communities in Wales.

This report, showing an almost fivefold return on investment in terms of social impact, is a reminder to us all that the arts can have a huge and inclusive impact in society. Through the staging of shows or creative involvement with films and TV programmes, Hijinx opens up wellbeing and a sense of possibility for participants and for all of us who experience their remarkable work.

Phil George, Chair, Arts Council of Wales

The full report is available download as PDF, audio report and Easy Read at hijinx.org.uk along with interviews and films from those who contributed to the report. 

Hijinx’s Social Impact Report was supported by Lloyds Bank Foundation.

Read our Social Impact Report

Our Impact

Guide me through the longest night,

Out of darkness comes the light.

Thanks to a very clever fairy, Pinocchio is no longer a wooden puppet. But with Geppetto gone, can Pinocchio learn to embrace the memories and find their true self?

Join Pinocchio this Christmas on a journey of discovery through the highs and lows of human emotion.

Out of the darkness and sadness comes a magical adventure. Featuring comedy, original songs, an interactive digital cast live on screen & stage, and a very brave penguin…Pinocchio and the Northern Lights is the perfect family treat. This heartfelt and joyful new adventure by Hefin Robinson is loosely inspired by the work of Carlo Collodi, and based on ideas by the participants of Hijinx Odyssey.

We’re so thrilled that our Christmas show is now on sale and would love for you to join us at Wales Millennium Centre. There are four performances, from 2- 4 December. Thursday’s performance is limited capacity due to socially distanced seating.

Suitable for ages 5+. Contains themes of bereavement and grief.

The Potty-Mouthed Puppet Who Fights Prejudice embarks on a 31 date tour of France this month.

The smash hit award–winning Hijinx theatre show, Meet Fred will be heading out on a 31 date tour of France after waiting checks on Brexit and NHS COVID-19 passes.

Meet Fred is produced by Hijinx in association with Blind Summit. The production was met with rave reviews following a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2016, which led to international appearances including at the World Puppet Theatre Festival in Charleville-Mézières, France. It has continued to tour and now, in its fifth year, Meet Fred has been performed over 230 times, seen by over 23,000 people and visited 19 countries including the USA, China, and South Korea as well as across Europe.

Hijinx is one of Europe’s leading inclusive theatre companies, striving for equality by making outstanding art with learning disabled and/or autistic actors on stage, on screen, on the street, in the workplace, locally, nationally and internationally for Wales and for the world.

Meet Fred’s French tour was postponed from 2020 to October 2021 due to the recent pandemic. Hijinx will perform over 30 dates at venues across France including Granville, Rouen, Annecy, Chamonix and Lannion. This will be the second international tour for Hijinx this year, who’s other production Grumpy Unicorns is currently touring the streets of Germany.

Ellis Wrightbrook, Hijinx’s Senior Producer said:

“After 235 performances, Meet Fred has been shaped by the immensely talented artists that have been part of the ensemble over the years. Each new actor or puppeteer brings a fresh perspective and energy into the performance, and with this next leg of touring featuring our biggest cast change to date – it feels like we are premiering all over again!”  

Ellis Wrightbrook, Senior Producer

However, it has not all been plain sailing to get the show back on the road. This will be the first time the Meet Fred team has headed back into Europe since both Brexit and COVID-19. To ensure the team are as safe as possible they have had to form a “bubble” with regular PCR and lateral flow tests now part of their routine. There are vast amounts of paperwork that now must be completed both in connection with Brexit and COVID-19, never mind the risks associated with being out of the country should any of the team get a positive test. Even this week there has been a scare, with a member of the Director’s household testing positive, which has led to Ben Pettitt-Wade now being isolated from the cast and directing the rehearsals via Zoom. So why do it at all?

Ben Pettitt-Wade, Hijinx Artistic Director said:

“Meet Fred is an important show, it tells the story of a person struggling in a world not designed for them, it is a story of difference and one that is not often heard. It is also Hijinx’s most successful show and continues to be in international demand. It is not without its stresses, but we feel it’s important that we do not let Brexit and Covid become a barrier to international exchange.”

Ben Pettitt-Wade, Artistic Director

Meet Fred is the two foot tall cloth bunraku puppet that fights prejudice every day. He just wants to be a regular guy, part of the real world, to get a job and meet a girl, but when threatened with losing his PLA (Puppetry Living Allowance), Fred’s life begins to spiral out of his control.

The show is an original exploration of what it means to be different. With wit and dark humour, Hijinx explores themes of independence, empowerment, care and social injustice, and exposes the ridiculous situations some of the most vulnerable in our society encounter when their support is taken from them. It explodes the myth that ‘we are all in this together’.

Meet Fred will only be performed at Riverfront, Newport on 15 October, 7.30pm. The production will tour France between October 2021 – April 2022. Suitable for ages 14+. Contains strong language and puppet nudity.

Meet Fred in France 2021 – 2022 Tour Dates.

DateLocation
19/10/2021Pornichet
20/10/2021Haute-Goulaine
22/10/2021Machecoul
11/01/2022Granville
13/01/2022Loudéac
14/01/2022Lannion
18/01/2022Cesson-Sévigné
19/01/2022Cesson-Sévigné
20/01/2022Cesson-Sévigné
21/01/2022Montfort-sur-Meu
03/02/2022Villenave-d’Ornon
04/02/2022Cestas
07/02/2022Cahors
08/02/2022Mirepoix
09/02/2022Mirepoix
10/02/2022Saint-Jean-de-Védas
11/02/2022Millau
15/03/2022Hazebrouck
17/03/2022Lucé
18/03/2022Pontchâteau
19/03/2022Vern-sur-Seiche
22/03/2022Lillebonne
23/03/2022Rouen
24/03/2022Rouen
25/03/2022Pont-Audemer
28/03/2022Villard-Bonnot
29/03/2022Annecy
31/03/2022Chamonix
26/04/2022Séné
28/04/2022Ancenis-Saint-Géréon
29/04/2022Nort-sur-Erdre

Current Touring Cast.

Follow us on social media for more updates on the Meet Fred in France 2021 – 2022 tour!

We’re delighted that Eye See Ai – a new augmented reality experience created by Hijinx in collaboration with Vietnamese companies Mat Tran Ensemble, Tohe Fun and Viet Interactive, has launched online!

Funded by the British Council Arts Digital Collaboration Fund, which enables organisations from the UK and selected countries overseas to collaborate digitally on international projects, the project will allow for an exciting cultural exchange as participants are given the opportunity to explore Hanoi and Cardiff using digital AR technology in 6 new short digital performances. The project will feature Hijinx actors from across Wales, as well as actors and performers from Mat Tran Ensemble, who are based in Hanoi.

Vietnamese collaborators Mat Tran are a group of Vietnamese puppeteers, pursuing a vision of inclusive performing arts, telling puppet stories without limitation of space and language, connecting people and bringing art closer to marginalized communities. Meanwhile, Tohe is a social enterprise with the mission of creating creative playgrounds for disadvantaged children, supporting young autistic artists to learn and develop through a variety of educational and visual art activities. Technical partners Viet Interactive provide AR technology to create authentic experiences in familiar spaces.

The exchange began in February 2020, when Mat Tran Ensemble were able to visit Cardiff prior to the Coronavirus pandemic and learn from the working practices of Hijinx and various other Welsh venues and companies. When the Covid-19 lockdowns hit, the exchange continued online and developed into a digital project which allowed for the exploration of new and innovative technologies.

Artistic Director, Ben Pettitt-Wade, says of the project:

We were delighted to receive a British Council Digital Collaboration grant to continue our relationship with Mat Tran Ensemble and foster a new partnership with Tohe. The process has been a huge learning curve for us all as we’ve explored together the potential for augmented reality and how it can be used to present the work of artists from Vietnam in Wales and vice versa. We have particularly enjoyed our exchange sessions between our own artists here in Wales and those in Vietnam, and can’t wait for the public to experience our artists work in both our countries.

Ben Pettitt-Wade, Artistic Director, Hijinx

As of today, Eye See Ai has a dedicated Facebook page where you can keep up to date with all the latest developments relating to the project – including details where you might be able to access the AR experience later this year.

You can also keep up to date with all of the latest project developments on Hijinx Theatre’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.