Theatre in Wales

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From Dylan Thomas and the First World War to Scottish Independence: On the Edge Spring 2014 season     

From Dylan Thomas and the First World War to Scottish Independence: On the Edge Spring 2014 season A new play inspired by a Dylan Thomas quote written on the wall of a noodle bar in Swansea University has its first performance this month (FEB). It joins such diverse themes as the First World War and Scottish independence in this 10th year of Michael Kelligan’s Welsh Fargo Stage Company On the Edge script-held plays seasons.



Marking the start of the On the Edge Spring tour to Cardiff, Newport and Swansea, the play Number 5 Cwmdonkin Drive was written by Liz Wride who only completed her PhD in Dramatic Writing at Swansea University in 2012. Her historical play Hearts of Oak that formed the body of her thesis, premiered in the Dylan Thomas Festival in the same year.


Liz Wride grew up on a Chicken farm at Heol-y-Cyw, near Bridgend, and spent her time writing stories, dreaming of animating the cartoons she watched on TV and bottle-feeding young lambs. Her first trip to the theatre ended in tragedy, when her dog bit the inflatable mother-goose she’d got at the Pantomime.  Luckily, all her future pantomime mascots remained intact. She is now writing her first musical.


“I wanted to be a writer since the age of five and was always inspired by the nature around me on the farm where I grew up. My first stories were about animals, handwritten, with all the “s” letters written back to front,” Wride said. “It was the MA in Creative Writing at Swansea University that introduced me to the storytelling possibilities of the stage medium. The Dylan Thomas quote on the Swansea University campus: "Do not go gentle..." coupled with the quote at the train station, "Ambition is Critical" made me think not only of being surrounded by the works of a famous poet, but following one's dreams during life, hence in the play the protagonist following his dreams with such determination.”

In this anniversary year of Dylan Thomas’s birth, the poet will be one of the characters in the play the Un Dead Poets Society by John Hussey, along with John Betjeman, Phillip Larkin, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. They exchange banter, quote from their poems and set out together to solve a murder mystery.


The season also marks the centenary of the First World War with two plays, The Pity of War, a one-man play by Gwynne Edwards in which Wilfred Owen reflects on his experiences both in verse and prose. Edwards, a native of Clydach Vale, Tonypandy, and now living in living in Aberystwyth has written a number of one-actor plays inspired by the lives and work of a number of Welsh icons including Burton. First performed as an On the Edge performance the work based on the life of Richard Burton performed by Rhodri Miles, was performed throughout the UK, and in Hollywood. Currently, Edward's Picasso's Women: the Darker Side of Genius is being performed in Los Angeles and he has recently completed Survivors' a play about three female survivors of Auschwitz who subsequently lived in Cardiff.

Following the success of the Company’s tour of Patrick Jones’ Dandelion last autumn, Kelligan is keen to continue his close relationship with the writer and will revive his acclaimed Gulf war play The War is Dead Long Live the War. This play also features the great First World War poet Wilfred Owen. Here he meets a young soldier from the 1990-91 war in Iraq. The play was one of the first On the Edge plays in 2004. Jones is currently writing a new play for National Theatre Wales and sets out on a reading tour in March. 

In more jocular mood there will also be a look at the Scottish independence referendum with a new play set on the night of a Yes vote! Results Night is by two new young playwrights, Leon Russell, the founder of the Welsh National Rights Movement, who is currently researching a monograph on Welsh republicanism, and Sara Hawys. In 2012 Sara won a one year writing bursary with Literature Wales and was a semi-finalist in BBC Wales Writers Room Drama Award.

"This season's plays are full of life humour and beauty and the mix of young and award-wining actors, writers and directors make this ten year On the Edge season as full of dynamic theatre as they have ever been. Audiences are always amazed how well these script-held performances captivate and present first class theatre entertainment", said Michael Kelligan, On the Edge Artistic Director.



Tour details:

NUMBER 5 CWMDONKIN DRIVE
Chapter, Cardiff: Tuesday, February 11, 8pm
Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea: Wednesday, February 12, 7.30pm
Riverfront, Newport: Thursday, February 13, 7.45 pm

THE PITY OF WAR
Chapter, Cardiff: Tuesday, March 4, 8pm
Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea: Wednesday, March 5, 7.30p

RESULT’S NIGHT
Chapter, Cardiff: Tuesday, April15, 8pm
Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea, Wednesday, April 16, 7.30pm
Riverfront, Newport, Thursday, April 17, 7.45

THE WAR IS DEAD LONG LIVE THE WAR
Chapter, Cardiff: Tuesday, May 13, 8pm
Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea: Wednesday, May 14, 7.30pm
Riverfront, Newport: Thursday, May 15, 7.45pm
 
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