April 2013 News Round-up & Forthcoming Events

Dylan Thomas mural in Laugharne © Martin Rowson

Dylan Thomas mural in Laugharne © Martin Rowson

Laugharne Weekend

The annual Laugharne Festival took place over the weekend of the 5th-7th April in the town that was the last home of Dylan Thomas. The line-up included the legendary pop artist Sir Peter Blake who gave a talk about his love for Dylan Thomas and his on-going project to illustrate scenes from Under Milk Wood, and veteran punk poet John Cooper Clarke closed his rapid-fire set with the line “do not go mental, and with that Good Night”.

During the weekend, cartoonist and writer Martin Rowson drew an irreverent Cerne Abbas giant style portrait of Dylan Thomas on the wall opposite the Three Mariners Pub. The portrait received a mixed reaction and news emerged that it had been removed using a power washer shortly after the festival ended.

Portrait of Dylan Thomas in progress during the Laugharne Weekend 2013   © Andrew Dally

Portrait of Dylan Thomas in progress during the Laugharne Weekend 2013
© Andrew Dally

Dylan Thomas Documentary for S4C

The Laugharne Weekend was the latest venue for filming for the S4C Dylan Thomas documentary planned for 2014. The project devised by film director Kevin Allen sees actor Rhys Ifans on a quest to discover more about the poet and his place in Welsh culture. During the weekend Ifans recorded interviews with Thomas fans including Sir Peter Blake and John Cooper Clarke.

S4C arts programme Pethe featured the project on a recent edition and Lisa Gwilym‘s interview with Rhys Ifans can be seen here.  An interview with director Kevin Allen can be seen here.

Details of BBC Dylan biopic start debate

Further details of the planned BBC Dylan Thomas biopic emerged during the month sparking a debate on the wisdom of focussing on Dylan’s death during the anniversary of his birth. The drama “A Poet In New York” will be written by Andrew Davies, and will focus on the poet’s last days in New York as he works on the final draft and first performances of Under Milk Wood. Filming will take place in Cardiff and Laugharne later this year.

Badgers Not Just Beneath His Vest

Dylan’s connections to Laugharne were in the news again this month when badgers were reported to have been damaging St Martin’s churchyard where Dylan and Caitlin are buried. Our visit to the grave during the Laugharne Weekend found it thankfully free of badger damage.

Grave of Dylan Thomas  © Andrew Dally

Grave of Dylan Thomas
© Andrew Dally

Dylan’s attitude to badgers is not recorded, but the wildlife of Laugharne and the surrounding countryside features prominently in Dylan’s later poems, and Dylan’s youngest son Colm was given the middle name Garan, which means heron in Welsh. Badgers did however feature in Dylan’s early creative life as one of the hand-drawn programmes for the comic literary entertainments devised by Dylan and his boyhood friend Daniel Jones was entitled “Badgers Beneath My Vest”.

Browns Hotel Features In New Play

A new play set in Dylan’s former local pub, Browns Hotel Laugharne, has been performed in Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA.  “The Poet’s Legacy” was inspired by author Patti Cassidy’s visit to Laugharne in the 1980s. It had been hoped that a video link up would allow the present day locals at Browns to see the play but that proved impossible on the day.

Dylan Thomas Centenary Scholarship

To mark the 2014 centenary of Dylan Thomas, Swansea University’s College of Arts and Humanities are offering two Dylan Thomas Centenary Scholarships in Creative Writing.

Forthcoming Events

Under Milk Wood Days

The Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea is organizing a series of events to mark the 60th anniversary of the first stage performance of Under Milk Wood in 1953.

May 10th – Under Milk Wood Twitter Exchange. Following on from last year’s popular event, more dialogue from the play will pass across the twitterverse. Follow the words on twitter here.
May 11th – Milk Wood themed young writer’s workshop
May 11th – Milk Waking Wood. The Fluellen Theatre company present a new entertainment casting a look at some of the residents of Llareggub and how they, and the play, have influenced other writers through the years.

Gower Walking Festival

This year’s Gower Walking Festival includes two Dylan Thomas themed walks. Return Journey, on 9th June, will be led by the Lighthouse Theatre’s Adrian Metcalfe, and will re-create Dylan’s walk through the post-Blitz Swansea that inspired his famous radio broadcast. On 14th June an exploration of Dylan’s home suburb of Uplands will include a visit to his birthplace in Cwmdonkin Drive.

Crowd-funded Production of Sidney Michael’s play “Dylan”

Photo by Corey Torpie
Photo by Corey Torpie

A  production of Sidney Michael’s play “Dylan” about the final years of Dylan Thomas is to be staged at the Vorhees Theatre,  Brooklyn, New York, 29th April – 11th May. The play is based on John Malcolm Brinnin’s book “Dylan Thomas in America”, and Caitlin Thomas’s book “Leftover Time To Kill”.  Funding is being sort to help stage the production, more information can be found here.

Literature Wales – Cross the Taf Estuary With Dylan Thomas 

One of this year’s series of  literary tourism events arranged by Literature Wales is an innovative canoe trip across the Taf estuary from Laugharne in the company of Dylan experts Dr John Goodby and Jeff Towns. This will be followed by an evening of Dylan Thomas, jazz, and New York food. The event takes place on 20th July, the brochure can be downloaded here.

Dylan Thomas Festival

The annual Dylan Thomas Festival takes place in Swansea from 27th October to November 9th. This year’s festival will include the launch of a new Dylan Thomas centenary commission by Gillian Clarke, a preview of Fluellen Theatre‘s production of Dylan’s “Rebecca’s Daughters”, and an evening of reading from Dylan’s work in his old local, The Uplands Tavern.

Under Milk Wood – Film – Screening

Further screening of Andrew Sinclair’s 1972 big screen version of Under Milk Wood.

Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, Flintshire, May 23rd

Under Milk Wood

A number of productions of Dylan Thomas’s classic play for voices are planned.

Heron Theatre, Beetham, Cumbria, 1-4th May
Westacre Theatre
, Norfolk 26th April-4th May
Oval House Theatre, London 3rd-6th July
Frome Festival, Somerset 13th July
John Abbott College at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 5th-9th August
Stratford Festival, Canada, August 29th

Do Not Go Gentle Festival

The festival based in Dylan Thomas’s home suburb of Uplands, Swansea, that launched in 2012, returns in 2013, 1st-3rd November.



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