Theatre in Wales

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Remembering a Time Remembering Graham     

Remembering a Time  Remembering Graham November 2001 saw the sad loss of one of Wales’ best loved theatre directors, Graham Laker. Graham’s years both as free-lance director and artistic director of Cwmni Theatr Gwynedd were prolific. He produced an impressive, wide-ranging catalogue of comedies, tragedies, musicals, classics and brand new plays. According to the actor, Arwel Gruffydd, who worked with Graham on a number of occasions,

“His contribution to Welsh theatre was immeasurable, and his humility, tenderness, ability and learning was an inspiration to all who came into contact with him. He is remembered as a gracious man and a genial director who brought so much pleasure to so many people in his comparatively short life.”

At the beginning of The National Eisteddfod week, a cast of some of Graham Laker’s well-known colleagues and friends will be celebrating his contribution to theatre in the Theatr Gwynedd bar, Sunday, July 31, at 8.00pm. A warm invitation goes out to all who enjoyed either Graham Laker’s work or his company to join in the celebration and to enjoy once more a selection of high-lights from Graham’s presentations in an evening of poetry, music and drama. Among those appearing will be John Ogwen, Maureen Rhys, Siân James, Dafydd Dafis, Christine Pritchard, Jonathan Nefydd, Olwen Medi, Arwel Gruffydd and Sioned Webb.

A variety performance in the comfort of the bar to remember a time and to remember Graham

Tickets : £6.00

Proceeds towards the Cofio Graham fund

A Synopsis of Graham Laker’s Life And Works

Originally from Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, Graham Laker was a lecturer at the Drama Department at The University College of North Wales, Bangor, and it was during his time there that he developed a relationship with Theatr Gwynedd, putting on shows for their Summer Season; musicals such as Joseph And His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Fiddler On The Roof, as well as straight plays such as Sleuth and Educating Rita. When the drama department was closed down, Graham was appointed artistic director of Cwmni Theatr Gwynedd, the company that he himself was influential in its conception and with which he was responsible for a variety of productions that included brand new plays such as Leni, Yr Aduniad and Awe Bryncoch, Welsh-language classics such as Enoc Huws, Cwm Glo and Y T_r, and world classics in Welsh translation such as The Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Glass Menagerie and Ghosts. From the unforgettable adaptation of T. Rowland Hughes’ novel O Law i Law, to his final masterpiece, Amadeus, the vast array of his presentations testify that he consistently put forward productions of the highest quality that were both entertaining and creative. He worked with very many actors and theatre technicians, all of whom remember him with warmth and respect. He gave numerous new actors their first break and continued to nurture their interest and career in the theatre. He returned to academia in his later years, this time at The Department of Theatre, Film and Television at The University of Wales, Aberystwyth. Here too, as in Bangor, his influence was unassumingly far reaching.

“Graham poured his boundless energy into the cause of Theatre here in Wales”, says Valmai Jones, another friend and colleague. “He worked, he worried, he fought, he sweated, he created, he laughed throughout, and did all this in the Welsh language.”

Another actor who worked with Graham on numerous occasions, John Ogwen, talks of “his astuteness, his charisma and unfailing personal and professional dignity,” adding, “Graham’s inventive enthusiasm and quiet directing was a joy.”
“Having always prepared meticulously,” said Maureen Rhys, “Graham had the grace, cunning and wisdom to let us actors think that we had done all the work while knowing all the time that in the end it was always his production.”
“My heaven is here, in the dust and heat of the theatre.”
Graham Laker
The Cofio Graham Appeal

Donations are invited from Graham Laker’s friends, colleagues and former students, from individuals, institutions and companies involved with theatre in Wales and from friends of Welsh-language theatre who enjoyed Graham Laker’s productions during his time as a free-lance director and as artistic director of Cwmni Theatr Gwynedd. The aim of the fund is to create a permanent memorial to one who gave so much of his life and energy to the theatre. Please send any donations to : Cofio Graham, Theatr Gwynedd, Ffordd Deiniol, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2TL, making cheques payable to : Theatr Gwynedd - Cofio Graham
 
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