(Lyn Gardner’s article appeared in the Guardian, 9/15.)
In September, the sheep are gathered off Snowdon. But for this piece, created by Louise Ann Wilson for National Theatre Wales, it is the audience who are separated into flocks and herded around the mountain in a walking performance that lasts four hours. The Gathering is rooted in place, and the memories of generations of sheep farmers who have passed their knowledge down to each other by “hand and heart”.
NTW have never been afraid to ask what theatre is and what it might be. There is little here that fits into a traditional theatre mould; instead, mountains spout poetry amid the sound of slate-quarrying pulleys, a brass band plays, shepherds and dogs race across the mountain calling to each other, sheered fleeces pour down the hillside in a fluffy stream, and the sheep themselves watch from rocky outcrops and munch the thin grass. They know this steep place belongs to them and that we are the intruders.