Theatre in Wales

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

Two Years Hard Labour Pays Off For Playwright Simo

IT IS just two years since Welsh writer Simon Harris unveiled his first play but he has already made a huge impact on the arts world.

Following its success, Harris was nominated as most promising playwright in the Evening Standard drama awards and Badfinger has since been filmed for the BBC.

His second play, called Wales Alaska, was written for the Royal National Theatre.

It was staged a year ago at the theatre’s studio in London where the works of up-and-coming writers are aired.

Now Harris is enjoying success with his third play, Garageland, which is currently touring Wales.

It is based on a real dramatic incident. Harris had heard news reports earlier this year about a man with serious stab wounds who had driven across the Severn Bridge from England to Swansea.

“It captured people’s imaginations,” said 38-year-old Harris, who is from Swansea.

“They were keen to find out what it was about.”

The man was discovered unconscious on the motorway hard shoulder and was taken to Morriston Hospital.

Following interviews with the victim, police revealed they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.

“I was intrigued by what had happened - that was my starting point,” said Harris.

Garageland starts with the man in hospital having a flash back. Apart from the fact that the central character was found in the same circumstances as the real-life victim, the rest of the play is completely fictional.

“The play is about the need for illusions - how they are comforting and represent hopes and aspirations.

“This character is trapped in the grip of an illusion.

“It’s presented in a very vibrant style - the character tells one version of the story and we see another one.”

Garageland, which is being performed by the Steel Wasp Theatre Company, opened at Taliesin Arts Centre in Swansea earlier this month and has since been staged in Carmarthen and Cardiff.

“It’s been brilliant,” said Harris. “The theatre was absolutely jammed packed the both nights it was in Swansea. The company has been inundated with calls - I am absolutely thrilled.”

The next performance will take place at the Drama Centre in Abergavenny on Friday.

Meanwhile, Harris is directing a revival of Badfinger, which will be performed at Swansea’s Grand Theatre next Spring.

There are also plans to revive Wales Alaska.

author:Karen Price

original source: Western Mail
27 October 1999


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