When I was asked to blog about my favourite place in Cardiff for the Millennium Hotels Guide to Cardiff, one place sprang to mind straight away: Chapter Arts Centre in Canton.
I first visited the centre when I was doing my A-Levels and we went on a school trip to watch a film about the Spanish Civil War. At the time the venue was still in in its old guise of the original converted school building, but I still loved visiting there for the really varied mix of films that it showed, that you would otherwise never have got to see in Cardiff.
A few years after I moved back to Cardiff from university my friend and I lived about 10 minutes away from Chapter and really enjoyed paying a visit there for the films and the great food that they served. However I think it is probably in the last five years that I have spent the most time in Chapter. This is quite ironic that I live further away now than I did in the five years prior to that.
What I love about Chapter is the sheer variety of events going on there, from arthouse cinema to experimental theatre; art exhibitions to photography workshops.
My most recent trip there was a perfect example of why I love the venue so much. Chapter was hosting a screening of the National Theatre’s production of Frankenstein featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller. I love the concept of screenings like this that give people the opportunity to experience cultural events which otherwise they would miss out on, e.g. I got to see the David Bowie V & A exhibition even though I hadn’t been able to get a ticket for the exhibition itself.
After collecting the tickets at the Box Office I spent a few minutes browsing the quirky selection of gifts that they had on display in their ‘shop’, from greetings cards to jewellery. There were some really individual pieces that would make great gifts, whether that be something for your nearest and dearest or a treat for yourself!
Whilst I was waiting for my friend to arrive I had a drink in the cafe bar area. I love this space as it is really open and vibrant and you get a real variety of people, from people sat on their own working on their laptops, to groups of friends chatting on an evening out. The bar offers a great selection of drinks (and incidentally holds a great beer festival!). If you are feeling peckish then you can grab a delicious bite to eat from the varied menu on offer.
Even if you haven’t got time to watch a film or theatre performance then I would definitely recommend that you pay a visit to Chapter. It is the perfect chilled out spot to grab a drink and a bite to eat and to pass some time. And I love that you can bump into such a variety of interesting people while you there.
The screening of Frankenstein was brilliant. I had never read the book, so it gave me a real insight into the darker story beyond the “man with nuts and bolts in his neck” which is the clichéd portrayal of the character that we are all used to seeing in films. Johnny Lee Miller’s performance was amazing. He really conveyed the physical aspects of the creature as it came to life, and made you empathise with the character right to the end, despite everything he had done.
If you get a chance to catch the next screening on 1st December then I would really recommend it. One of the things that I love about this production is that Danny Boyle got the actors playing the creature and the creator to swap places every day. I am really intrigued to see how Benedict Cumberbatch plays the role of the creature.
Hopefully I will see you in Chapter soon. Don't forget to say hi if I do!