Student City guide: Cardiff

What’s the big draw?

The Welsh capital is a cheap and cheerful place to visit. There are often good alternative music nights and festivals like Sŵn, which has previously hosted Beirut, The Cribs and Alt J among others. Cardiff is small enough that the majority of clubs and bars are within walking distance of each other but big enough to still feel like you’re in a major city. 

What’s the night-life like? (gigs, bars, clubs)

Putting aside the standard Oceana and Revs, Cardiff is home to a series of independent clubs and bars. Clwb Ifor Bach, or the Welsh Club as it is fondly known, holds Aperture Dubstep nights on a Friday, indie music on Saturdays and a variety of gigs throughout the year. Bands that have played there include Pavement, Blood Red Shoes and Foals.

Opposite Clwb is the Full Moon Club, which opened two years ago. As well as hosting bands and regular club nights, it also does an open mic night called ‘The Electric Cwtch’. For those in search of a double and mixer for under £2, look no further than Metros. The rock metal club, also known as ‘Sweatros’, stays open until 4am and hands out free slices of buttered toast as it reaches the end of the night.

If you’re feeling slightly classier, head to Buffalo Bar or 10 Feet Tall for some 2-4-1 cocktails. The basement of 10 Feet Tall, Undertone, features the 90s Hip Hop and RnB night, Bump & Grind.

What can you do in the day? (cafes, restaurants, shops and facilities)

Now that Cardiff City Football Club is in the Premiership, sports fans may enjoy going to watch their matches at Ninian Park football ground. The Millennium Stadium in the city centre is also worth a visit, though it can get unbearably crowded when the rugby is on.

There are lots of little arcades in the city with independent stores and restaurants, such as Restaurant Minuet in Castle Arcade, which used to be owned by the cheery Marcello who sang along to opera CDs while preparing your Penne all’Arrabiata. In Morgan Arcade, you can find Spillers Records, the oldest record shop in the world, where you can purchase tickets for concerts in the city.

For shopping, check out the Cardiff Fashion Quarter in Womanby Street, home to twenty independent traders of vintage clothes and handmade gifts. In Cathays, Milgi Lounge is the perfect place to go for lunch with friends. It has vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options, and cutesy, kitsch indoor decorations. You can also rent out the yurt in the heated garden for private parties.


Where’s the best place for to live?

Roath is about a fifteen minute walk from the centre of town and even has a park with a lake that you can go boating in. Although there are a lot of large family houses on one side of it, the other side, next to Cathays, is full of students and has variety of pubs, shops and cafes.

A New Musical: ‘The Comedian’ Comes To Brum

Interview with Josh Sood, who has co-written a new musical to be performed at the Guild.

‘The Comedian’ is a new student written musical being put on by GMTG and Josh Sood productions. The book and lyrics are written by Leo West, who is also directing and the music is written by Josh Sood, who is co-producing. We caught up with Josh to find out what it’s all about.

What made you decide to write your own musical?

I approached a friend, Leo West, last year and proposed it. Then after a few months we came up with the premise. I’ve previously conducted a lot of shows and always wanted to try writing my own musical because I have a love and passion for musical theatre. I wrote a few shows in the past but they were never performed, it’s all been good practice though.

Josh Sood with Alistair Robertson

Josh Sood with Alistair Robertson (orchestrator)

How has the process of working with Leo and the cast been?

Leo and I complement each other’s skill set, I do everything he can’t do and he does everything I can’t do. We’re on the same page with the show so it’s really easy. We don’t have to speak in a room together, it’s just a look and he’ll write a new lyric in. It’s become intuitive. We have the same vision. We were worried before the read through but the cast really got into it and filled us with confidence. Their enthusiasm makes our process easy.

Matt McConnell, a first year drama student, has the leading role. He’s a great singer and he can nail the material, he’s really worked hard to get into the character. Everyone’s put a lot of effort into it. Loads of freshers are in the cast as well as old hands, it’s a nice mixture and has been good to meet new people.

Matt McConnell in action

Matt McConnell in action

What can people expect from the musical? What’s it all about?

It’s about contemporary celebrity and media culture. We centre on a stand up comic/TV and game show host and what we see in the media from his perspective. The other characters are close to him, his manager and fiancé… The show is mainly about betrayal and love. It’s not your typical musical with jazz hands, we call it a rock operetta. We’re going for a more realistic approach with the acting. Matt McConnell describes the show as ‘comic, disastrous and tragic all sort of rolled into one’ which I think is a good way of looking at it!


What has been your inspiration for the show?

It’s alternative music. Our influences were Blink 182, Oasis, Muse, what you’d find on a rock album but with a lot of variation. The different styles of music help to make the narrative clearer. I told Alistair Robertson, who’s doing the orchestration, to make it sound like it could come out of a Green Day or Red Hot Chili Peppers album, but we also have a rap song in it. We hope that the amalgamation of different musical styles stops the show from becoming monotonous.


Do you have any hopes for the future of the show after it’s been performed in Birmingham?

Nothing is set in stone – maybe London fringe theatre or Edinburgh, though the story is quite timely, with scandals about drugs and celebrities. The show explores these issues from the perspective of those that it actually affects, actors and such like. But Leo and I are thinking about working on next musical, so watch this space!

‘The Comedian’ is being performed from 25th February to 1st March 2014 in the Debating Hall, Guild of Students. Tickets available online.


International Work Experience Bursary Information

Ciara Cohen-Ennis (BA Drama / English Literature, 1st year)

International work experience bursary winner working as a journalism intern with New Indian Express

Ciara’s role

Ciara worked for a month and a half for the Indulge Magazine at the New Indian Express newspaper in Bangalore. Her duties included conducting interviews and writing articles and reviews for the paper, as well as proofreading and editing. Published weekly, Ciara’s articles appeared in print virtually every week. Other tasks she was assigned by her editor included contributing to fashion it-lists, society pages, film, restaurant and food reviews. She was also given the autonomy to provide her own suggestions for articles or features in the magazine. This included working on a Home and Style page, for which she interviewed the owner of a garden boutique. Examples of Ciara’s published work include The whole nine yards, an article about a new independent shopping initiative.

Ciara Cohen-Ennis

Ciara enjoyed her internship immensely, noting that, “I loved interviewing locals for the society pages. It was really interesting to get out of the office and meet people, learn about their businesses and projects and then get to write about them and see the articles published. I got to meet the former editor of the Hindustan Times newspaper, Samar Halarnkar, who is also a father, cook and now published author. Other people I have interviewed include Nina Bual, who started a group called I Love Indiranagar, which involved nine businesses such as a bakery, gardening shop, spa, restaurant, music venue, etc. The businesses started a rapid loyalty scheme for customers to gain rewards from their shopping. I got to meet all of the owners and learn a bit about their lives and how they came about starting their businesses and got to know each other. All of their products were original and many had one-off, unique items. It was really interesting to hear their stories and see how their work developed.” However, it took a little time for her to adjust her style to that of the paper, “I had to rewrite some articles two or three times to make sure that they were fitting with the rest of the magazine. The editor wanted my writing to be extremely descriptive and full of colour so that the reader would get a sense of the place or person that I was writing about. Having only written for the Birmingham Tab and the university newspaper, Redbrick, previously, my work would hardly be edited or altered, so it was interesting to see how a professional editor would view my work and ask me to change it.”

Skills learned

Skills that Ciara developed during her placement included interviewing, writing and proofing. She also feels that, “my general writing style has also improved, as I am typing up articles on a daily basis and learning from others who work at the paper.” Whilst these will assist Ciara in her career goal to become a journalist, her work during the summer has also helped her to identify that, “I would also like to shadow a journalist and keep getting experiences by writing for local papers in the UK as well as at university and abroad. I think it may be a good idea to also do an MA in journalism so that I can further my knowledge, skills and experience… It is very important for me, now, to get work at a paper or magazine in the UK, so that I can understand how journalism works in my own country more, as well as in India. I have also started a blog while I’ve been in India and plan to keep this up when I return to the UK, so my work is always being published and companies are able to observe my writing and experiences.”

Employer’s thoughts

Ciara made a very positive impression on her hosts at the New Indian Express, who observed, “Ciara was extremely versed and comfortable in her position with our company. She showed a strong understanding of journalism and writing with an emphasis on lifestyle features. She was capable of completing stories well before the deadline, testament that she works well under pressure without compromising on quality. She was productive, pleasant and positive to work with, and her commitment towards the paper surpassed my expectation of an intern. She is a fine asset, a wonderful co-worker and she is welcome back any time she likes.”

Posted on Friday 25th October 2013