Theatre in Wales

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The First Tributes

In Memory

Keith Morris , The Culture of Wales , October-07-19
In Memory by Keith Morris It is a rare person who gets to leave a legacy in two separate fields. But that is the accomplishment, and the legacy, of Keith Morris. A town is a living, dynamic entity, but its passage through time is caught in word and image. Aberystwyth is possessed of a rich photo gallery. The photographs that record its Edwardian heyday are arresting. Keith's record goes beyond the big, and the obvious, delving into the detail. To see the flight of the starlings, however regular, is always startling. The definitive image of their evening destination, the pier, belongs to Keith.

And there is this site. It is imperfect, incomplete, occasionally ungrammatical. But in a media landscape that is lopsided, fragmented, broadly uncritical of itself it is sign of a culture in some kind of aspiration to look at itself.

It came into being without public subsidy, was and remains wholly grant-less. Year on year Keith averaged ten to twelve hours a week on its postings, updatings and maintenance.

I asked him once about the source codes and their ownership. He looked puzzled. I elaborated, asked him whom he had found to do his coding. It dates after all a long way back, to an era pre-Dreamweaver. Ah, he said, getting the question,I did it myself.

It is a rare person too for whom tributes come from figures across the arts and politics. Elin Jones and Geinor Styles wrote tributes on their own social media, that are complementary. Elin Jones looked to the civic presence and the recorder of Aberystwyth.

Elin Jones in edit:

Aberystwyth has lost one of its favourites sons. The omnipresent Keith Morris.
I cannot begin to imagine an Aberystwyth without Keith Morris in it. Snapping our daily lives, telling our story to the world through his images. Our starlings and our storms. Our protests and performances. His cheeky smile made us smile. Well smile again, but not just now.

All the present Keith Morris. On the prom, in the town, in all the protest that are in the city. Reflecting the colourful diversity of Aberystwyth in their photos, and announcing them to the world. Thinking of Aberystwyth without Keith and his camera is painful in difficult. He was the beloved son of the city.

Geinor Styles wrote equally from the heart and had something significant to say:

In the early 90's the theatre in Wales had a website, hosted by Keith. This was the beginning, in my opinion, of us challenging ourselves, reviewing our work and was the beginning of that critical voice, which has ultimately helped in garnering confidence in ourselves and in our work. Keith did this not out of profit or ego.

He did it, I think, because he believed in the work growing beyond our borders. As a director starting out I hated it. I hated the fact that the critic had a platform, I'm still reticent on why one person's view dictates whether your show is a success or not. Those who know me know how much I hate it.

One time I remember asking Keith to take a bad review down off the website that I had had for a show. He laughed saying "Yeah it is a bit of a stinker of a review!", and added "When you put yourself out there you are saying - I am brave. Be brave, Geinor fach" The review stayed.
Keith wanted us to be brave, to believe in ourselves.

Diolch Keith - Cysga'n dawel. X

The Arts Centre at Aberystwyth published its own tribute

Maen anodd crynhoi cyfraniad aruthrol Keith Morris i fywyd Aberystwyth ac ir celfyddydau yng Nghymru. Dros ddegawdau mae Keith wedi dogfennu digwyddiadau ein tref hyfryd ni, yn ogystal i phobl a phrydferthwch naturiol y lleoliad, ac wedi gwneud i ni werthfawrogi pa mor lwcus ydyn ni i fyw yma, ac i fod yn rhan o gymuned mor wych.

Mae Keith wedi dogfennu cymaint yng Nghanolfan y Celfyddydau fel bod ei waith yn adrodd hanes yr adeilad ar bobl sydd wedi gweithio, perfformio ac ymweld r lle dros y 50 mlynedd diwethaf fel maen digwydd, yn un on sgyrsiau olaf gyda Keith roeddwn yn trafod cyhoeddi llyfr oi waith yma i ddathlu ein penblwydd yn 50 mlwydd oed.

Ond yn fwy na hyn, roedd ei waith yn gofnod o fywyd celfyddydol Cymru o wyliau, i gynyrchiadau mawr cenedlaethol a sioeau cymunedol, roedd o yno iddyn nhw i gyd. Bydd bywyd celfyddydol Cymru yn dlotach hebddo a byddwn ni gyd yn gweld eisiau ei gymeriad ai gyfraniad enfawr ir bywyd hwnnw. Pob cydymdeimlad a chariad at Gilly ar teulu ac iw ffrindiau oll.

Its hard to put into words the contribution Keith Morris made to life in Aberystwyth, and to the arts in Wales. Across the decades he has documented the happenings of our wonderful town and its people, the beauty of our location, and made us truly appreciate how lucky we are to live here and to be part of such an amazing community.

Keith has documented so much in the Arts Centre that his work is a history of the venue and the people who have worked, performed and visited here over the last 50 years - in fact, our last meetings with him were to hold discussions about publishing a book with him to mark our half century.

But more than this, his work covered the whole of the arts scene in Wales - from festivals and major national productions to community shows, he was there for them all. The arts scene in Wales will be a lesser place without him and we will miss his larger than life presence in it.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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