Theatre in Wales

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Voice in America     

Not many people know what’s in common between a Californian Dentist, a Welsh Religious Revivalist and a shattered 100-year-old wax voice recording cylinder from Tredegar.

The National Library of Wales’ assistant sound archivist however is most certainly one who does after travelling all the way to the west coast of the United States with a precious and precarious recording of Evan Roberts from Lougher near Swansea, one of the main instigators of the 1904-05 Revival.

“The recording was donated to the National Library’s Sound and Screen Archive by a Tredegar benefactor,” said Dafydd John Pritchard. “Unfortunately the wax recording cylinder had split into eleven pieces and impossible to use,” he added.

The search was then on for an expert voice recording cylinder repairer but all the obvious choices declined the offer to take this particular task to hand. A Los Angeles dentist however stood on the breach and agreed to take on the work.

“Dr Michael Khanchalian, who had actually heard of Evan Roberts beforehand, took five days using his dental expertise and extreme patience, to meticulously piece the cylinder together,” added Dafydd Pritchard. “So it was that in California I actually had the spine-tingling experience of hearing Evan Roberts for the first time,” he said.

Now audiences will be offered the opportunity to have the same spine-tingling and captivating experience as they pack Wales’ main theatre venues for Hen Rebel (Old Rebel), Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru – the Welsh National Touring Company’s presentation of a musical extravaganza based on Evan Roberts’ remarkable religious revival.

“Evan Roberts and his team of five-girl singers become instant spiritual celebrities as the local and national newspapers of the day reported on their spreading religious zeal,” said Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru’s Artistic Director, Cefin Roberts. “Congregational hymn singing was, of course, central to Evan Roberts’ successful evangelical formula and that, in turn, provides the ideal starting point for a musical production,” he added.

The thirteen-member cast of Hen Rebel is headed by London’s West End- experienced actor, David Lyndon, who plays the captivating Evan Roberts. The other cast members are Maldwyn John, Llion Williams, Frank Lincoln, Dafydd Huw James, Rhys ap Wiliam, Carys Gwilym, Angharad Lee, Elin Llwyd as well as the four members of Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru’s team of core actors, Owen Arwyn, Rhian Blythe, Carys Eleri and Dave Taylor.

The seven week tour will open in Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre (6-8 October, 2005) followed by performances in Carmarthen’s Lyric Theatre (11 October, 2005); Theatr Ardudwy, Harlech (October 13-14); the Aberystwyth Arts Centre (October 20-21); Theatr Mwldan, Cardigan (November 3-4, 2005); Mold’s Clwyd Theatr Cymru (November 8-9, 2005); with the final performances in Bangor’s Theatr Gwynedd (November 16-19, 2005).

Hen Rebel is written by the renowned actress, stage director and scriptwriter, Valmai Jones. The musical arrangement is by Einion Dafydd.

Pre-performance explanatory discussions for Welsh Language learners are being arranged at all the venues. Details are available from the individual theatres.
Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru  
web site

Tuesday, September 20, 2005back



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