Theatre in Wales

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Path-breaking National Theatre

Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru

Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru- Y Bont , Trefechan Bridge, Aberystwyth , February 14, 2013
Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru by Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru- Y Bont Sara Rhoslyn Moore was at Trefechan Bridge and other locations in Aberystwyth for Wales Arts Review.

In excerpt:

...Five hundred people gathered from around the country at the Arts Centre in Aberystwyth for this sell-out event by TGC, (a collaboration with S4C, Green Bay Media, and Aberystwyth Arts Centre along with co-operation of Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, Glamorgan and Aberystwyth University and the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David).

...four young women appeared on the upstairs level in sixties clothing singing into a vintage microphone an old Welsh hymn. Goose pimples roused, and the sight of five hundred people looking upwards as if they were standing tall with their heads held high in total silence, was the beginning of something very special.

...Once the singing was over we watched a film; the love story of a young couple living in Wales today. The story centred on the tensions that surfaced due to their differences of beliefs concerning the Welsh language. The character of Kye, the non-Welsh speaker, represented the arrogance as well as the insecurity of the Welsh who turn their noses up at the native tongue. Is it a defence mechanism due to the embarrassment of not fitting in? His attitude led to the end of his relationship with Welsh-speaking Dwynwen; Kye had expected her to change to fit in with his friends, not the other way around. It was an interesting metaphor for the entire plight of the Welsh-speaking community.

...ten charabancs waiting to carry all five hundred of us through the streets of Aberystwyth. Bus drivers and conductors were dressed as they would have been in the sixties; the magic of the one-off performance was blossoming. The engines started and so did verses from Saunders Lewis’ ‘Teirnged yr Iaith’ [sic], the famous radio interview in which the nationalist leader expressed a bleak outlook on the future of the Welsh language. Excitement grew when we spotted students performing in the street. The windows of our bus had steamed up and it added to the experience, as if we were looking at a memory. It was then I realised in front of us was a police escort.

...We came to the next performance: the students continued down the high street, rushing, looking around, anxiously and mischievously, to see whether they were attracting the attention of the police, whilst plastering posters on walls and doors, declaring ‘Defnyffiwch y Cymraeg’

...We were then separated to different cafes around the town. We watched recorded interviews with the men and women of the original protest. Some the students of ’63, it was revealed, blockaded the bridge, stopping traffic coming into or out of Aberystwyth, but some disagreed with such drastic action and refused to participate. The character of Dwynwen, in a post-modern twist, filmed outside the café as she had been given the task (as part of her doctorate studies mentioned in the earlier play) of reporting on this very performance. Again the past and present mingled. We left the café and headed for the finale, to the students who went ahead with the blockade, to the Pont Trefechan.

...the perfect end to the Y Bont performance; the bridge packed with people from start to finish singing the Welsh National Anthem, ‘Hen Wlad fy’n Nhadau’...the last verse sang with more meaning and much more understanding, ‘Oh! bydded i’r hen iaith barhau’ ‘Oh! Long live the Welsh language’.

Excerpts, with thanks, from the full review to be read at:

https://www.walesartsreview.org/one-historic-day-y-bont/

Photo: Adam Somerset

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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