Welcome to the latest round up of news relating to the poet Dylan Thomas
Celebrations for Dylan’s centenary year are well and truly under way with a fantastic array of events showcasing Dylan’s work and reflecting on his life and influence. With new events being announced on a regular basis including those not part of the official DT100 celebrations we’ve created an Events page that lists all the events we’re aware off by month and all on one page.
Clywd Theatr’s major new production of Under Milk Wood directed by Terry Hands begins it’s run at Mold on February 6th before heading off on a tour of Wales and beyond, and Rhodri Miles’ begins his extensive tour playing Dylan in Gwynne Edwards’ Dylan Thomas : Clown In The Moon on February 3rd. Poet In The City are celebrating Dylan on February 10th at King’s Place, London, with Dylan Thomas : In My Craft, and Swansea Arts Society are staging a Dylan Thomas inspired art exhibition at Swansea Museum, The Colour of Saying, from February 10th. Swansea Museum are also staging their own exhibition, Dylan’s Swansea, from February 21st. For other events during February and beyond please check out our Events page.
As might be expected in centenary year, a number of new books are scheduled for publication.
Jeff Towns’ book revealing previously unpublished letters from Dylan Thomas to his American mistress Pearl Kazin, A Pearl of Great Price, will be launched by Parthian Books at the Grand Theatre, Swansea, on Valentines Day, February 14th. The launch will proceed a performance of Clown In The Moon a play by Gwynne Edwards starring Rhodri Miles as Dylan.
Perhaps the flagship publication of 2014 will be The Complete Poems of Dylan Thomas edited by Swansea University’s Professor John Goodby. This new collection will include material overlooked or excluded by previous publications, and will be published by W&N in hardback in May.
Also due for publication in May is The Three Lives of Dylan Thomas by Hilly Janes. Journalist Hilly Janes explores Dylan’s life and its legacy through the eyes of her father, the artist Alfred Janes, who was Thomas’s friend and painted the poet at three key moments, in 1934, 1953 and, posthumously, 1965. Published by Robson Press.
Other new books on the radar include Phil Carradice’s A Child’s Dylan Thomas, an accessible introduction to the poet, published by Gomer Press ; Dylan’s Welsh Walks by Harri Roberts, an ebook guide to walks associated with Dylan published by Camau ; and a new book (and associated smart phone app) for the Dylan Thomas Walking Tour of Greenwich Village developed by Peter Thabit Jones and the late Aeronwy Thomas which will be launched at the Poet’s House, New York, on March 5th. Thistle Publishing will be publishing new print and digital editions of Jonathan Fryer’s Dylan : The Nine Lives of Dylan Thomas, Amberley Publishing will be bringing out Dylan Thomas’ Under Milkwood Through Time by photographer Mark Davis, which looks at the locations that inspired Dylan, and Dr David Sands has written Dylan Thomas Made Genius that considers whether a mental condition allowed Dylan to write brilliantly from a young age.
Welsh poet and former Archdruid, T James Jones, revealed in an S4C documentary about the sixtieth anniversary of Under Milk Wood that he is working on a revised version of Dan Y Wenallt his Welsh language translation of Under Milk Wood.
Andrew Sinclair, director of the 1972 film version of Under Milk Wood, has a new book out in February. Down Under Milk Wood : Of Burton and Taylor, O’Toole and Others, Dylan and Me is an illustrated memoir of Sinclair’s relationship with the works of Dylan Thomas and with the film industry. Published by Witley Press.
Radio, TV & Film
We can expect a good deal of Dylan content on radio and TV during his centenary year, so here are updates on some of the projects.
Under Milk Wood (Fatti Films) – Poet Murray Lachlan Young is adapting the screenplay for Twin Town director Kevin Allen’s new big screen version of Under Milk Wood, and Allen has revealed that Rhys Ifans will star as First Voice, and that he hopes to offer Welsh rugby legend Gareth Edwards a part in the new film.
Dylan Thomas Documentary (S4C) – Kevin Allen and Rhys Ifans have already teamed up to produce a Dylan Thomas documentary for S4C that will see Ifans exploring the legacy of Dylan Thomas and the influence of the Welsh language on his life and work. Due for broadcast later this year.
Set Fire To The Stars – The new Dylan Thomas biopic penned by Celyn Jones and Andy Goddard has started filming in Swansea. Celyn Jones is cast as Dylan with Hollywood star Elijah Wood cast as Dylan’s American agent, John Malcolm Brinnin. The film’s New York scenes are also being filmed in Swansea.
Under Milk Wood (BBC) – Although details have yet to be confirmed, the BBC has started recording a new version of Under Milk Wood with an all Welsh cast.
Beach of Falesa (BBC) – Radio 3 have announced that they will be recording Beach of Falesa using the script Dylan wrote for an intended film version of the Robert Louis Stevenson story. The programme will be aired on May 4th, as will a documentary about Dylan Thomas by poet Gwyneth Lewis. On May 5th Radio 3 will be broadcasting a Dylan Thomas poem every hour, some featuring archive recordings of Thomas, and some new recordings.
Dylan Thomas Special (ITV) – ITV have announced that they will be producing a special programme commemorating the centenary of the birth of Dylan Thomas.
Dylan Thomas Project (Wales & Co for BBC) – A documentary filmed in a Welsh community working with a number of artists – both unknown, and well known – to produce a 21st Century take on Under Milk Wood.
DylanWatch on TV & Radio – In the run up to Christmas the BBC’s One Show included a feature about Dylan and Christmas that included Cerys Matthews and Gillian Clarke visiting Dylan’s birthplace in Swansea, and the BBC also recorded a new radio version of Dylan’s A Child’s Christmas In Wales read by actor Matthew Rhys. S4c produced a new documentary about Under Milk Wood with Welsh poet T James Jones who announced that he is planning to revise his Welsh translation of Under Milk Wood, and an episode of Antiques Roadshow featured a nude sketch of Dylan’s wife Caitlin by Augustus John, that was valued at £8000. BBC Radio Wales Arts Show had a Dylan Thomas special to talk about the centenary celebrations, with contributions from Hannah Ellis, Jeff Towns, Gillian Clarke, and Literature Wales’ Bronwen Price. On the programme Jeff Towns announced that he may have found some video footage of Dylan Thomas, something not previously known to exist.
In The Papers
The first few weeks of Dylan’s centenary year has seen some excellent coverage in the printed press. Travel based features have appeared in The Independent, The Mirror, and South Africa’s Mail & Guardian, with the Lady Magazine listing Carmarthenshire at number one on their Where To go in 2014 list. Articles focussing on events appeared in the New York Times, India’s The Hindu, and The Guardian (who also suggested Carmarthenshire as a holiday hotspot for 2014), and articles focusing more on Dylan’s life and work appeared in The Scotsman and Daily Mail. Taliesin Art Centre’s forthcoming production of an Under Milk Wood opera made it onto the Sunday Times Culture Critical List. Wales Online began a week of features about Thomas on February 1st with a Dylan Thomas special issue of their Week End magazine, and Dylan’s prominence in 2014 was further recognised by Wales Online when chairman of the Dylan Thomas Society, book seller and writer Jeff Towns was placed at number one on the Welsh arts power list.
Swansea Council have given one of their buses the Dylan Thomas treatment to help promote the centenary. The bus which sports a portrait of Dylan will be on the Cwmdonkin circular service.
Culture Secretary Speech
Culture Secretary Maria Miller quoted Dylan Thomas in her keynote arts and culture speech on January 22nd.
Her speech began “100 years ago Dylan Thomas was born. Thomas’ poetry was some of the first poetry I read at school. My familiarity with the South Wales Valleys was, perhaps, why it resonated with me. And I would like to start today by reminding you all of how he described his feelings for poetry. He said: “Poetry is what makes me laugh or cry or yawn, what makes my toenails twinkle, what makes me want to do this or that or nothing.” What he was describing was how poetry affected him. How it caused him to react. Or perhaps do nothing… How it elicited a response. And I think the same can be said of all cultural forms. Whether we’re talking about our performing arts, our museums and galleries, our creative industries, our built heritage, or any other form of culture, it is clear that culture matters to us because it elicits a response….“.
Artist Gordon Stuart Honoured
The Canadian born artist Gordon Stuart who was the last person to paint Dylan Thomas has been awarded an honorary degree by Swansea University. The Swansea based artist has produced portraits of many figures in the arts including Dylan’s children Colm and Aeronwy, and Dylan’s friend Daniel Jones, and has been Artist in Residence at the Dylan Thomas Centre. His portrait of Dylan will be sold at auction later this year.
Dylan Live Launch
Dylan Live, the 60 minute bilingual performance which incorporates vinyl, jazz, beat poetry, hip hop and spoken word to explore the influence of Dylan Thomas was launched at Cardiff airport on January 23rd.
Dylan Thomas Society of Australia Tour
The Dylan Thomas Society of Australia Choir and Sydney Welsh Choir have announced a tour of Britain to coincide with the centenary celebrations. The choirs will perform at a series of concerts as well as giving shorter recitals at castles and cathedrals.
Ronnie Biggs Funeral
Dylan’s poem And Death Shall Have No Dominion was read at the funeral of Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs by author and former drug-smuggler Howard Marks.