Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Remembering Three Who Made Their Mark on the Theatre of Wales

In Memory

Helen Griffin, Jeff Teare and Frank Vickery , Theatre in Wales , July 16, 2018
In Memory by Helen Griffin, Jeff Teare and Frank Vickery Within a space of two weeks, June 19th-July 2nd, Wales lost three figures who mattered in its theatre.

Helen Griffin was both writer and prolific actor. Graham Williams, on this site June 18th 2003, saw her in “Caitlin”. “Helen Griffin's gutsy, multi-faceted portrayal of Caitlin Macnamara”, he wrote, “is at once mesmerising and disturbing.”

Her last appearance on stage, to be seen widely, was her blistering solo performance as Rachel Roberts. The Torch's production toured over 2012-2013 and included the Edinburgh Festival. “In Helen Griffin's totally convincing and electrifying solo performance”, wrote Victor Hallett for this site May 16th 2012, “we seem to simply hear Rachel Roberts' voice through her own's Helen Griffin's show. Prowling, drinking, staggering, being coquettish, rude, or empty, she makes us feel the danger and vulnerability of being in close proximity to the volatile, dangerous actress who could and should have been a star.”

Jeff Teare led the new writing company Made in Wales with dedication, wryness and acuity. Wales had a place where a script from anyone could be sent. In that small office in Chapter it was guaranteed that it would be read with promptness and appraised scrupulously and with deep knowledge. Jeff Teare occupied the role as a fighter, a champion for the place of new writing as the heart of a vital theatre culture.

And Frank Vickery. He and Helen Griffin joined in 1999, along with 24 other playwrights, to write a public letter of condemnation of officialdom's plans to cut new writing.

Ten of Frank Vickery's plays were good enough to be published by Samuel French and are in the National Library of Wales. That is a good record. History will in time make its eventual judgement. The plays may or may not come to be cherished in the manner of those of J O Francis. No matter- theatre is of the here and now. It is not staged for the flattering of posterity. Frank Vickery was a writer and actor who gave enrichment and pleasure to many people many times over.

This site has a clear view of the role of subsidy for theatre. Let a thousand flowers bloom, but every so often a piece must make the jump into the wider culture. Relief from the market is not release from the market. “Amazing Grace” of 2005 was seen by 45,000.

Frank Vickery's Wikipedia entry is a crisp and modest 115 words. But he received his due in print in an interview in November 2004 with Hazel Walford Davies published in “Now You're Talking” (Parthian 2005).

“I hold up characters and situations that most people can identify with...consequently this is a good part of the reason they turn out to see my work in their hundreds.”

“Even my most serious plays have comedy in them, and the challenge for me as a writer is to deal with a highly serious subject and find a way of playing it through humour. I am also interested in writing about taboo subjects...My intention is to write about subjects that are usually discussed in private.”

“I'm sure I'm a better writer because I'm also an actor. Because I'm an actor I have a natural instinct of what will work on stage and what won't.”

“I undoubtedly write for and about the working-class of Wales- people who wouldn't under most circumstances be seen in a theatre. This is a fact I am particularly proud of.”

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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