Transition – NTW Wales Lab Programme

 Another Saturday night out, I’m being lulled into a false sense of security that my children are growing up and a social life might re-emerge yet.

The Fairy Godmother and I decided to frequent Chapter Arts Centre again and take in Transition, the premiere of the first full National Theatre Wales production to grow out of the WalesLab programme, and presented in association with Theatr Iolo and Run Ragged.

“Jem is 50 next year. Ella is 11. They are father and daughter.

Ella is ballet mad and has just started going en pointe. Jem is a professional, contemporary dancer and doesn’t approve. They have always danced together on the kitchen rug.

In Transition, they explore their shifting relationship through dance, conversation and film.” 

Jem Treays and Ella Treays in Transition, photo credit: Theatr Iolo

Jem Treays and Ella Treays in Transition, photo credit: Theatr Iolo


It is still impossible to think of a relationship between father and daughter to be anything other than complex, the journey to independence welcomed and feared in equal measure. Transition, as a daughter and a parent, welcomes you to the emotional journey of pride and protection. Watching this exploration, I considered myself to be in a fortunate predicament, that if my friends and family do not know what I do for a living after 14 years with the same company, I should never be in a situation where my child wishes to follow in my footprints. But what of the child who does, when the parent knows every aspect of the route? As a child becoming an adult I had it firmly in my head “dad wants me to do well, mum wants me to be happy”, there is always a compromise to be had in parenting, that the potential outcome may not be what was hoped. 

And so, there was almost a sense of intrusion as you are you are welcomed to Jem and Ella’s life, the here and now, their life building up to this performance, home life captured on film, conversations played back, dancing on the kitchen rug.

There is so much in each exchange- encased by love- there is humour, there is competition, there is pride, there is strength, there is a stand, and of course, there is talent.

The dialogue and dance are fantastically executed, with precision and meaning, sometimes fun, sometimes with challenge, the energy and motive contrast throughout as the inevitable transition becomes evident.

Transition instigates a view of parenting to some in the audience, from carrying and leading a child, to walking alongside, to supporting a leading role.

For a child it is the strength needed for this transition; mentally, physically or both. To tread the first footsteps, whilst remaining in need of a parent.

This production, choreographed by both performers is a fantastic visualisation of the complexities and wonder of parent and child, I cannot stop my admiration of Ella Treays, to achieve such an aspiration, and to create such a legacy of family, wherever future transitions are in store.

Wales Lab is a unique initiative for emerging artists and new theatre ideas. Supporting writers, directors, actors, choreographers, designers, performance artists, installation-makers and multi-media experimenters across the landscape of Wales to develop new ideas. Sharing progress through NTW’s digital hub, and inviting local audiences to see work in progress, an ever-growing community of artists get the chance, through WalesLab, to try out the ideas that will create tomorrow’s theatre. Further Wales Lab productions can be found on the NTW website.

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