Theatre in Wales

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In Memory

Gareth Miles Remembered , Theatre and Culture of Wales , September 8, 2023
In Memory by Gareth Miles Remembered Gareth Miles

Tristwch mawr oedd clywed am farwolaeth Gareth Miles, y Marcsydd, dramodydd, nofelydd a sgriptiwr ar gyfer y teledu, dechreuodd ei yrfa fel athro Ffrangeg a Saesneg, oedd ar un adeg yn gadeirydd y Blaid Gomiwnyddol yng Nghymru.

Cychwynodd Gareth ei yrfa fel dramodydd yn 1981. Ym mis Rhagfyr y flwyddyn honno daeth Gareth, Gwyn Parry, David Lyn, actor a sefydlydd Theatr yr Ymylon, a minnau, ynghyd yn nhy fy ffrind Siân Edwards yn Stryd Alfred yn Cathays i ddarllen a thrafod drafft cyntaf ei ddrama Diwedd y Saithdegau. Tyfodd y ddrama o ymateb Gareth i sefyllfa Cymru yn dilyn y bleidlais ‘Na’ yn y refferendwm dros ddatganoli yn 1979. Gan fod Gareth wedi bod yn gyd- sefydlydd Cymdeithas yr Iaith a’i fod nawr yn gyd sefydlydd Mudiad Gwerinaethol Cymru (1979-1982) doedd e ddim yn syndod bod y ddrama yn critique o gyflwr gwleidyddol a diwyllianol Cymru ar y pryd.Cafodd y ddrama ein cymeradwyaeth brwd.

Ro’n i’n bersonol yn croesawu’r cyfle i fod yn rhan o gynhyrchiad nid yn unig oherwydd ei berthnasedd, ond am ei fod yn gyfle i chware rhan ddifyr tu hwnt. Roedd Gwenda, y wraig ty rhwystredig chwaraeodd rhan flaenllaw ym mhrotestiadau Cymdeithas yr Iaith ond oedd nawr yn briod a phlisman uchelgeisiol, yn gymeriad sylwgar doniol ac egniol. Mae dal yn anarferol i weld prif gymeriad benywaidd deallus yn trafod diwylliant, crefydd a gwleidyddiaeth mewn modd mor graff a dychanol. Roedd yn rhodd.

Yn dilyn y cyfarfod cychwynol ailddrafftiodd Gareth y sgript, ac fe ffurfion ni gwmni Sgwâr Un ar gyfer ymgeisio am grant prosiect gan Cyngor y Celfyddydau. Bu llwyddiant, ac aeth y sioe ar daith ym Mis Mai 1982, gyda Gruffydd Jones yn cyfarwyddo, Clive Roberts,Gwyn Parry a minnau’nactorion, Twm Gwyn yn Rheolwr Llwyfan a Penni Bestic yn Gynllunwraig.

Ymhen hir a hwyr cyhoeddwyd y ddrama gan Cyhoeddiadau Mei, a dyma ddywed y broliant ar gefn y gyfrol -

‘Drama real, gigog a chignoeth…yn cynnwys peth o’r sgrifennu mwyaf cyhyrog ym myd y ddrama yn y cyfnod diweddar…..mae’r ddeialog grafog, y plot cynhyrfus a’r portreadu aeddfed yn gwneud darllen y ddrama hon yn brofiad ysgytwol.’

Mae ail ddrama Gareth Unwaith Eto ‘Nghymru Annwyl, perfformiwyd dan faner Hwyl a Fflag yn 1984 wrth i’r ddau gwmni ymuno, yn trafod hanes Owain ap Dafydd ymgyrchydd iaith blaenllaw a’i berthynas a’i wraig Morfudd. Pan mae Owain yn dychwelyd ar ol blwyddyn yn gweithio gyda’r ANC yn Ne Affrica try’r drafodaeth am Apartheid yn Ne Affrica yn sgwrs am ‘Apartheid ar sail rhyw.’

Mae Morfudd wedi dod i sylweddoli, trwy fyw fel mam sengl tra’n delio ac achosion o drais yn y cartre yn ei gwaith, fod yna ‘ drefn o ddechre hanes sy wedi bod yn gorthrymu yn curo yn treisio ac yn lladd merched, ac yn gyrru nhw o’u coue.’ Ro’n i’n ymhyfrydu yn y ffaith fod y ddrama, trwy ffeministiaeth Morfudd, yn troi’r syniad arferol o arwriaeth ar ei phen, ac mae geiriau Owain yn fwy perthnasol nag erioed .

‘Tarddiad pob gorthrwm yng Nghymru, yn Ne Affrica ac ym mhob rhan o’r byd ydi trefn economaidd sy’n cynhyrchu er mwyn elw ac nid er mwyn diwallu anghenion pobl. Trefn sy’n gormesu’r lliaws er budd lles lleiafrif breintiedig. O fanna mae pob anghyfiawnder yn deillio- economaidd, cymdeithasol, diwyllianol, ac ieithyddol.’

Gruffydd Jones oedd y cyfarwyddwr unwaith eto, a’r cynllunydd set oedd Penni Bestic, ymunodd Dafydd Dafis a Mei Jones gyda fi a Gwyn Parry,fel actorion, Wyn Williams a Elinor Roberts oedd y rheolwyr Llwyfan a Peter Zygadlo oedd y cynllunydd goleuo.


Bu Gareth yn awdur llawrydd ers 1982, ac aeth yn ei flaen i ysgrifennu llu o ddramau gwreiddiol yn cynnwys Ffatri Serch, Hunllef Yng Nghymru Fydd a Lleidr Da a sawl addasiad yn cynnwys Hamlet, Duges Amalffi, a’r Bacchai i gwmniau Hwyl a Fflag, Dalier Sylw, Bara Caws y Theatr Genedlaethol. A’r Wales Theatre Company.

Roedd ei waith ar gyfer y teledu yn cynnwys Dinas, Pobl Y Cwm a Llafur Cariad. Ysgrifenodd nifer o nofelau ac enillodd gwobr Llyfr y Flwyddyn yn 2008 am Proffwyd a’i Ddwy Jesebel. Roedd ganddo golofn Theatr yng nghylchgrawn Barn am flynyddoedd, ac fe ysgrifenodd amryw o erthyglau mewn llawer o gyhoeddiadau.

Bu Gareth yn ganolog yn yr ymdrech i sefydlu cangen Cymru o Urdd yr Ysgrifennwyr sy’n dal i gefnogi a gwarchod hawliau ysgrifennwyr

* * * *

I was very saddened to hear of Gareth Miles’ death. He was a Marxist, a playwright, a novelist, and TV scriptwriter, who began his career as a teacher of French and English, and was at one time the chairman of the Communist Party in Wales.

Gareth Miles began his career as a dramatist in 1981. In the December of that year, Gareth, myself David Lyn, actor and founder of Theatr Yr Ymylon, and the actor Gwyn Parry, met in my friend Siân Edwards’ house in Alfred Street, Cathays to read and discuss the first drafft of Diwedd Y Saithdegau.(The End of the Seventies) The play had grown out of Gareth’s response to Wales’ situation following the ‘no’ vote at the 1979 referendum on devolution.

He was the national organiser for UCAC, the Welsh language teacher’s union at the time. As Gareth had been a founder member of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, and was now a co-founder of the Welsh Socialist Republican movement it wasn’t surprising that the play was a critique of Wales’ political and cultural state at the time. The play received our enthusiastic approval.

I personally welcomed the opportunity not only to be part of a relevant production, but because it was also an opportunity to play a brilliant part.Gwenda, a frustrated housewife who had played a leading role in Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s protests but was now married to an ambitious policeman was perceptive, witty and energetic. Unfortunately it is still unusual to see an intelligent female leading character discussing culture, religion and politics satirically and provocatively. It was a gift.

After that initial reading Gareth redrafted, and we formed a company,Sgwâr Un, to apply for an Arts Council project grant.We were successful and toured in May 1982 with Gruffydd Jones as Director, Clive Roberts,Gwyn Parry and myself as actors, Twm Gwyn as Stage Manager, and Penni Bestic as Designer.

The play was eventually published by Cyhoeddiadau Mei, and the blurb on the back cover says,

"A meaty, raw play…..with some of the most muscular writing in the theatre in recent times …..the incisive dialogue, the exhilarating plot and the maturity of the representation makes unsettling reading."

Gareth’s second play Unwaith Eto ‘Nghymru Annwyl (Once Again in Dear Wales) performed under Hwyl a Fflag’s banner in 1984, as the two companies had combined, centres on Owain ap Dafydd, a prominent language campaigner, and his relationship with his wife Morfudd. When Owain returns after spending a year working with the ANC in South Africa the discussion about apartheid becomes a conversation about ‘apartheid based on sex.’

Morfudd has come to realise after living as a single parent while dealing with cases of domestic violence that there is ‘an order since the beginning of history that has been oppressing, beating, raping and killing women and making them mad.’ I applauded the fact that the play, through Morfudd’s feminism, turned the accepted idea of heroism on its head, and Owain’s words seem more relevant than ever in 2023,

‘The source of all oppression in Wales, in South Africa and in all parts of the world is an economic order that produces for profit and not in order to fulfil people’s needs. An order that oppresses the many for the benefit of the privileged few. It is from there that all injustice springs- economic, social cultural, and linguistic.’

Gruffydd Jones directed once again and the set designer was Penni Bestic, Gwyn Parry and I were joined by Dafydd Dafis and Mei Jones,Wyn Williams and Elinor Roberts were the Stage Managers, and Peter Zygadlo was the Lighting designer.

Gareth became a freelance writer in 1982 and went on to write many original plays including Ffatri Serch, Hunllef yng Nghymru Fydd and Lleidr Da, and several adaptations including Hamlet, The Duchess Of Amalfi and The Bacchae, for Hwyl a Flag, Dalier Sylw and Theatr Genedlaethol. And the Wales Theatre Company. His work for television included Dinas, Pobl y Cwm and LLafur Cariad.

He wrote several novels and he won The Book Of The Year with Proffwyd a Dwy Jesebel (a Prophet and Two Jezebels in 2008.) He wrote a monthly theatre column for Barn for many years and many articles in various publications.

He was instrumental in setting up the Welsh branch of The Writer’s Guild which is still supporting and protecting writers’ interests.

Reviewed by: Sharon Morgan

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