Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Dog
Emlyn Williams Theatre, Mold, North Wales: 20th February 2003
Clwyd Theatr Cymru commemorated the 50th anniversary of the death of the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) with a superb run of performances by a small but accomplished cast of actors.
Described in the programme as "A theatrical journey through the prose writing of Dylan Thomas", the production was created by Tim Baker, an Associate of the Royal National Theatre, who won the Manchester Evening News Best Visiting Production award in 1992 for the highly acclaimed To Kill a Mockingbird.
Although Thomas is best known for his 'play for voices', Under Milk Wood, his evocative poems such as Fern Hill and Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night are rarely overlooked when anthologies celebrating 20th century poetry are put together. Indeed, this mesmerizing interpretation of Thomas's short stories could well be described as a rich fusion of prose and poetry. For example, in a scene crossing a river he speaks of, "slipping stepping stones" and early on in the piece he describes his "love" of words thus:
"And these words were, to me, as the notes of bells, the sounds of musical instruments, the noises of wind, sea and rain, the rattle of milk carts, the clopping of hooves on cobbles, the fingering of branches on a window pane, might be to someone deaf from birth, who has miraculously found his hearing."
The company of five use only stools and orange boxes to set the scenes for Thomas's vivid recollections of his boyhood in Swansea. The young Dylan is played brilliantly by Russell Gomer, who struts and capers across the hazily lit stage, reliving the poet's every memory as if it was his own. His fellow actors play a myriad of characters. The slightly built but enormously gifted Zoë Davies is adept at playing both male and female roles, from oppressed aunts to inebriated old men. And Morgan Walters, a ginger-haired giant of a man, is memorable for his portrayal of the young poet's bear-like uncle, as well as Les, Thomas's friend who invents names for passing strangers, and as a relation who steals livestock to pay for drinking binges. Whilst the cherubic-faced David Rees Talbot puts in a particularly memorable performance as Ray, a young man whose tragic past is briefly forgotten but inevitably revisited when he and Thomas ramble to the seaside to paddle in the surf.
The enigmatic and engaging Thomas lived a short and self-destructive, if literary fruitful life. His father, an English teacher at the local grammar school, began to read Shakespeare to him at the age of four and he started to write poetry in his eighth year. His childhood and adolescence were central to his later work - although he left school without formal qualifications and did not learn the Welsh language. He moved from Swansea to London in 1934, famously remarking, "The land of my fathers My fathers can keep it."
Thomas's first two books, 18 Poems and Twenty-five Poems, were published respectively in 1934 and 1936. He married Caitlin Macnamara in 1937 (they had three children during their tempestuous years together) and he made his first radio broadcast with Life and the Modern Poet on the BBC Welsh Services the following year. After the Second World War, his popularity as a poet grew in direct proportion to his reputation as a heavy drinker. However, his positive, rhetorical style won an enthusiastic following and poems such as A Refusal to Mourn the Death by Fire of a Child in London led to lecture tours of the United States. He died in St. Vincent's Hospital, New York, on 9th November 1953.
This stage adaptation of Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Dog - so bristling with humour and pathos - will undoubtedly delight parents and teachers endeavouring to introduce young people to Thomas's work. Adult audiences will also be entranced by its wry, witty narrative and flamboyant presentation. There is little doubt that, in the future, new theatrical companies will revive the production and it will become a fitting tribute to one of the world's great 20th century poets.
About The Author
Paula has contributed features to numerous guidebooks, magazines and journals on the subjects of literature, travel, culture and history. She is currently the editor of two online guides: All Info About Poetry http://poetry.allinfo-about.com and All Info-About English Culture http://englishculture.allinfoabout.com.
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Do not be afraid to shine. This world needs what you have to give.
Life is a Fantasy
LIFE IS A FANTASY!A pink-eyed rabbit, fuzzy whiteHops in bedrooms filled with frightA child of six with much to knowHer father's basest feelings showShe knows of LOVE, only through himHe satisfies his every whimHe leaves, she wipes himfrom her chin!Her mother NEEDS to see the bestHe answered her God requestTo have a roof to comfort bringA yard where all the birdies singTell me how she could really knowWhat source for learning could she go?Her mother regularly beaten if not worseThe cycle of violence - a woman's curseConflicting visions, dependenciesOne can endure many idiosyncrasiesShe could not make him defendant beDenial, avoidance? she disbelievesThe rabbit hides beneath tall trees.At thirteen a step-grandfatha'Finds a well-trained girl that oughta'Do what powerful men requestNever knowing what is bestAnd run away she does at lastFreedom can be such a 'blast'A rabbit's foot upon a chainThe FANTASY her 'safe' domainHow long in life must it remain?To protect her from these menWho always for her lips, do 'yen'A state trooper in Tennessee Like every other man does see Her lips so full and luscious red Through the bars, not in a bed.
Tale of the: Old Hunter and the Golden Hare [In SPANISH and English now]
There once lived an old man and his goodwife On the edge of the thick of the woods; They lived in an old run-down shack For forty-years and some. The old man hunted for his living, And his wife sewed on her lap.
THe Monster Mash, A Graveyard SMASH (short story I wrote when I was 11)
The Monster Mash The Graveyard SmashHave you heard of the Monster Mash? I suppose you know the story of how it came to be, right? Well, I'm here to tell the TRUE story to you.It sarted out late one night, when all monsters where out of human sight.
Catherine Daly reviews Antidotes for an Alibi
Amy King Antidotes for an Alibi BlazeVox Books ISBN 0-9759227-5-0 2005These poems read to me like poetry versions of flash fiction. Now, I like flash fiction very much, but I like the more fabulistic kind.
The Goat and the Rope [a Poem: in Spanish and English]
The Goat and the Ropewhere there were devils I saw none. nothing.
Two Poems: San Jeronimo Brook & [in English and Spanish]
Fair Andes! Thy arms reach highOf iron-woven solid stone Thu art a condor to the skyOf glory hidden in thy heartSo many paths, a maze of art?In thy old, Mantaro ValleyWhere adobes, breathe and tremble Beyond your rustic shadowsThere lays the prettiest of brooksIs my heart, within its stream!My image deeply carved, rippledIn its undiluted shallow watersWaiting, just waiting for me?As it opens up, opens up my soulMy rippled soul-searching-eyes!..
You Lost Your Last Gamble and Me
I will never think twice nor will I roll the dice When it comes to my life I will take my Grannio's adviceYou play the hand you're dealt when it comes to who will be your Dad - But if you bluff about a card's face value for too many years you forget you had - No Aces or King of Hearts in your original deck - But rather a worthless Joker-So Wild and Mad..
The Valley Of Pain
We were exiled from the Garden of Eden. Its sinless wonders nevermore to regain.
The Crusader: A Search for the Virtue Inside (an excerpt of an Epic Poem)
On through the darkness she searches the bones Seeking the hand of her love; Deep in the stillness, the maid searches on, Petitioning help from above. Onward she gropes through the flesh and the blood Of the warriors disfigured and maimed; She carries no hope for the life of her love - For naught but his body she came.
A Poem - By Lorraine KemberIt was a day like any other and mother, father, sister, brother, were carrying out the customs of their land. When suddenly without warning, Mother Nature came calling, shook the earth and stole the ocean from the sand.
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