Theatre in Wales

Commentary and extended critical writing on theatre, dance and performance in Wales

Carl Tighe: Record in Wales

Open Letter to the Wales Arts Council (1)

After his departure Carl Tighe wrote an Open Letter to the Wales Arts Council in response to a survey that it was conducting.

Running to 3411 words it is a document that shines a light, rightly or wrongly, on a period that is under-documented. In the pre-digital era Wales lacked a medium for its publication, A copy may, or not, be among the records of the Arts Council deposited with the National Library of Wales.

It has been divided into four parts for easier reading. Its first part covers his record of activity.

Open Letter

A Reply to the Arts Council Survey on Welsh Theatre

Thank you for approaching me for a contribution to the Welsh Arts Council survey of Welsh theatre. I have chosen to reply in the form of an Open Letter because I hope that others- playwrights in particular- will be able to profit from my experience. I have a long-standing professional interest in new writing for Welsh theatre, but as members of your Working Party are unlikely to be familiar with this I will begin by offering a brief outline.

Over the last eighteen years I have written professionally for Studio Group, Open Cast Theatre, PoW!, Action PIE, Chwarae Teg and BBC Radio Wales: my plays have been given rehearsed readings by Made in Wales, Tabard, PoW!. My work has also been performed in Ireland, Poland, England [Birmingham, and London], and Switzerland. I have written a great deal about the problems of new theatre writing in Wales to the Theatre Writers Union publication “Playwrights: an Endangered Species?” I also contributed to Tony Curtis' anthology “Wales: the Imagined Nation” and to a German language tourist guide to Wales.

For nearly four years I wrote a regular column on Welsh theatre for the magazine “Drama”. I also edited the first two editions of “the Playwrights' Register”- a publication designed to help disseminate information to both playwrights and intending producers about the business of writing plays in Wales. I also devised a scheme “Playwrights in the Community”, put into effect by WAC and SEWAA, which was designed to allow playwrights to work with a wide variety of community groups. I also devised the standard “Guidelines on Unsolicited Scripts”, adopted by WGGB, TMA, WAC and TWU. In addition I have served on various committees and on Theatre Writers Union teams to advise the ACGB. I was secretary of the Wales Branch of TWU for nearly four years and served as TWU observer at the board of Made in Wales for over the year.

In May 1987, after twenty years residence and eighteen years of professional writing in Wales, I decided to cease all connection with the Welsh stage. I'm sure the Working Party will appreciate that that at the time this was a very difficult decision to make. It occasioned harsh criticism, sniggers of amusement and blank incomprehension from some, but also profound sympathy from my colleagues in the Wales branch of Theatre Writers Union. No matter how much I lamented having that decision to take at the time, it is not now something I regret. My contribution in this document will be to explain how and why I came to that decision. I think the most useful way for me to to describe what happened would be for me to list my contacts with the various professional theatres of Wales. In this way the Working Party can decide for itself what went wrong and how best to view my experience. I will write here only about experiences since 1980- and even then only selectively.

author:Adam Somerset

original source:
25 June 2020


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