Welsh writer Rhiannon Boyle was recently named the first Wales Writer in Residence, a partnership from BBC Cymru Wales and National Theatre Wales (NTW). As well as receiving a bursary of £12,000 and opportunities with BBC and NTW, her winning script will be turned into a drama for BBC Radio 4. We caught up with the writer following the win to find out more about her freelance writing career, plans for the future and her thoughts on Cardiff's creative scene.

Please tell us a bit about what you do?

I’m a freelance writer. I write across all platforms - TV, audio and theatre. I have just been named Wales Writer in Residence, which means a six month residency at the BBC and six months at National Theatre Wales. Part of of my prize includes a BBC Radio 4 audio drama commission, which will be aired in August, as well as the development of a brand new theatre play.

Why have you chosen to work in Cardiff?

I came to Cardiff in 1996 to study acting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and I never left. I love Cardiff. I would never want to live anywhere else. Being from a very small town on Anglesey I find it pretty cool that my kids are growing up as city girls. There’s so much fun stuff going on here - theatre, music, food, festivals and art. Cardiff is just the coolest place to live. End of. Except for maybe the rainfall.

What challenges have you found in working in Cardiff?

I quit my teaching job five years ago to become a writer and it has been tough at times. When I was trying to produce my first theatre play a few years ago I was knocked back quite a lot. Mainly because I was new and I was seen as a ‘risk’. But if there are no risks taken how are we, here in Wales, supposed to compete on a world stage? How are we ever going to be creating anything new or innovative? Surely playing it safe is just boring. So I suppose getting my foot in the door has been hard. Getting people to sit up and listen and take me seriously.

How successful do you think Cardiff has been at making itself a creative capital, particularly in your area of work?

There are so many creatives producing so much fantastic work here in our capital, from smaller venues like The Other Room to new writing theatre companies like Dirty Protest. Some of the bigger players like The Sherman Theatre are also producing and programming some amazing plays.

There are exciting things happening at the BBC too, with BBC Studios seeking out new writers and initiatives like the BBC Welsh Voices scheme supporting and nurturing talent here in Cardiff. It's also a wonderful time for audio drama. Podcast drama has become such a huge international market, and many of these audio plays are being produced right here in Cardiff, at BBC Wales.

In your opinion, which three things need to happen to make Cardiff a more creative city?

1. More creative businesses should be supported without being bogged down by high rates and rent.

2. More creative spaces for freelance artists to work and meet.

3. All traffic lights need to be painted with green light = happy face, yellow light = blank face, red light = sad face.

What do you think Creative Cardiff should try to achieve?

Connecting artists. Supporting artists. Holding specific events, which will enable networking in certain areas.

What’s your favourite creative space to work in Cardiff?

Chapter. Or at home in my kitchen with my whippet, Blue. My kitchen is full of art. My husband is a skateboarder and he has a very colourful collection of skateboard decks on the walls. Plus my fridge is covered in the kids’ masterpieces, which of course, beats any Chapter art installation hands down (winks).

Name one Cardiff creative we should know more about?

Ok, so technically they’re two but, the Izzard twins Mari and Lowri are two young creatives to watch. When I was a drama teacher I taught them A Level and there was always something really special about them. They’re driven and talented but they are also just really, really nice. Mari’s Welsh language play Hela is on next month at the Other Room. Go and watch it, I have a feeling it’s going to be great.

What's next for you? What projects are on the horizon? What new ideas are you working on?

There are so many exciting things - first of all I’m working with Dirty Protest on a theatre idea, for their Paines Plough Roundabout, Edinburgh Fringe 2020 play. Then of course I’m polishing the final draft of my BBC Radio 4, audio drama which will be transmitted in summer. I’m also in talks with BBC Studios who have asked me to pitch some new possible TV drama and sitcom ideas. In addition, Eve Myles has approached me and asked me to come on board as a writer for a new TV drama idea she is developing under her new production company, Empty Room Productions. National Theatre Wales have shown great interest in one of my theatre ideas, which we will start developing in spring. So yeah, things just got really busy, but definitely in a good way!

For more from Rhiannon, check out her website.

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