Awen cultural trust produces first welsh language play

Written by on 24th June 2024

 “Gwlad? Dwedai wrthoch chi beth mae gwlad yn golygu i mi…”

“A country? I’ll tell you what a country means to me…”

 

Awen Cultural Trust (Awen) has produced its first Welsh language play ‘Gwlad! Gwlad!’ The play will premiere as part of this summer’s Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru (National Eisteddfod of Wales) programme at YMa in Pontypridd on 4th and 5th August before touring to Maesteg Town Hall next spring.

 

‘Gwlad! Gwlad!’ is described as ‘a rousing collision of land, song, people and time on a surreal journey into the heart of nationalism’, exploring the legacy of Wales’s national anthem through powerful, provocative and, at times, poignant episodic storytelling, brought to life by both historical and fictional characters.

 

Written by award-winning Welsh writer Chris Harris, directed by Harvey Evans, with music composed by Stacey Blythe and produced by Awen’s Creative Producer Pedro Lloyd Gardiner, ‘Gwlad! Gwlad!’ will feature aspiring performing arts professionals from Awen’s training initiative for 18 to 25 year-olds, Lansiad, and Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.

 

This project is funded by the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund, in partnership with Bridgend County Borough Council and Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, and supported by Arts Council of Wales and Welsh Government.

 

Chris Harris said:

“’Gwlad! Gwlad!’ is not a history play, but a darkly comic response to our convoluted discourse on patriotism, nationalism, heroes and warriors…an imagined void between reality and fantasy. As a writer, I am always interested in the unconventional questions that turn our way of thinking on its head. ‘Gwlad! Gwlad!’ asks how one anthem can represent a whole country. Is it still relevant? For whom does it speak?

 

“The play represents the episodic, fragmented and chaotic mindset that constitutes the disjointed nature of the nationalist agenda, echoing the voices of the community it plays to, so that order can be made from chaos…or chaos can be made from order, whichever arrives at the audience first. I’m very excited to bring this surreal and electrifying story to life with this incredible company of artists.”

 

Harvey Evans said:

“As the director of ‘Gwlad! Gwlad!’, my creative vision is to create an immersive experience that challenges conventional ideas of patriotism and nationalism, while also celebrating the rich cultural heritage of Wales. Our compact cast of four aims to take the audience on a surreal journey that prompts them to reflect on the complexities of identity and belonging.

 

“I am passionate about working with young artists and thrilled to be collaborating with Lansiad to provide a platform for young performers to refine their skills and gain valuable experience in the performing arts industry. I look forward to seeing these incredibly talented individuals grow and flourish as they bring their passion and dedication to the stage.”

 

Richard Hughes, Chief Executive of Awen Cultural Trust, added:

“The concept for ‘Gwlad! Gwlad!’ was inspired by a serendipitous connection; the anthem was written in Pontypridd and first performed in Maesteg, both towns where we are entrusted to manage theatres on behalf of our local authority partners. As an organisation which is proud of its Welsh history, culture and heritage, it’s a real privilege to showcase this play at this year’s Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru. We look forward to hearing what the audiences think of it.”

 

YOU CAN WATCH ‘GWLAD! GWLAD!’ AS PART OF YOUR EISTEDDFOD DAY OR WEEKLY TICKET: https://eisteddfod.wales/2023/tickets

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Chris Harris is a writer, translator and director. He is the recipient of The Richard Carne Playwriting Award for his play ‘Heterochromia’. He has a BA from Aberystwyth University, an MA from the University of Amsterdam, and he trained as a playwright with the Sherman Theatre Playwriting Group, 2016 – 2018. His plays include: ‘Cariad yn Oes y Gin’ (Theatr Bara Caws) and ‘Golygfeydd o’r Pla Du’ (Theatrau Sir Gar). He is also developing: ‘Trwbl Mawr yn Tremyglyd’ (with Mari Mathias, Blackwood Miners Institute) and ‘Y Boi Madfall’ (Theatr Iolo). He has also translated for Theatr Iolo’s Playhouse scheme. He also writes for radio and film: ‘Gwen yr Arth Wen’ (BBC Radio Cymru); ‘Tic Toc’ (Boom Cymru/BBC Sounds) and ‘Claddedigaeth Chwaer (S4C/BBC Wales/It’s My Shout). He sits on the Advisory Board of the Aberystwyth Arts Centre and is a member of TYA Cymru.

 

Harvey Evans is a director and singer from Newport. He is an alumnus of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Some of his notable directing credits include ‘The Egg’ for the Atmosphere Festival, ‘The Game’, a short community film, and an adaptation of Humperdink’s ‘Hansel & Gretel’. He has also worked as an Assistant Director for the Welsh National Youth Opera’s ‘Black Spider’ and as Associate Director for Bampton Classical Opera. Throughout his journey in the arts, Harvey has been dedicated to promoting innovation and collaboration with communities. His upcoming projects include directing ‘Don Giovanni’ for Bath Opera and presenting his project ‘The Game’ in France.

 

Stacey Blythe is a composer, performer and multi-instrumentalist based in Cardiff. She has performed across the UK, Europe, Australia, America and Brazil as a soloist, with the folk group Ffynnon, Welsh folk duo Elfen and world music duo Gitan. She has also toured and recorded with artists including Maria Hayes, Dylan Fowler, Julie Murphy, Meredith Monk, poets such as Patrick Jones and storytellers including Nick Hennessey. She has worked on community and professional projects for organisations such as Welsh National Opera, No Fit State Circus, National Dance Wales, National Orchestra of Wales, Opersonic, Ty Cerdd, Live Music Now, Trac and BBC Radio 4. Originally from Birmingham, Stacey has lived for most of life in Cardiff and is a fluent Welsh speaker. She lectures as a musical director and performance coach at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.

 

Pedro Lloyd Gardiner is a producer and performer from St Helena. He has worked extensively across TV, Film & Stage. He has a BA in Acting from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and a PGCE in Drama from the University of Hertfordshire. Pedro has had lead roles for NBC, Sony Picture & BBC. Best known for his voice over work he been working recently with Netflix dubbing foreign language projects, he is also currently the voice of Cineworld. As Awen’s Creative Producer, Pedro started the Lansiad project last year when he directed and produced their first public show, Songs For A New World by Jason Robert Brown at the Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl. Pedro is thrilled that this year Lansiad will be able to perform this fantastic new play at the Eisteddfod.

 


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