Welcome to the latest round up of news relating to the poet Dylan Thomas
April saw a return of the annual Laugharne Weekend festival which this year included a performance by Bob Kingdom of his acclaimed one-man show Dylan Thomas : Return Journey, as well as a visit from Jeff Towns’ Dylans Mobile Bookstore, and the launch of the month long exhibition of Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson’s Dylan’s Progress : A Centenary Entertainment, a series of illustrations of Dylan after the style of Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress. April also saw the premiere of the new opera by John Metcalf based on Under Milk Wood which opened at Swansea’s Taliesin to excellent reviews, and the launch of this year’s Art Across The City public art exhibition in Swansea that includes works inspired by Dylan Thomas. Clwyd Theatr’s acclaimed production of Under Milk Wood completed it’s Welsh dates during April and started a tour of English venues at York on April 22nd.
Dylan Thomas Centre Secures Lottery Funding
The award of nearly £1 million of lottery funding to Swansea’s Dylan Thomas Centre will allow the refurbishment and expansion of the exhibition space that houses the permanent collection of Dylan Thomas material. The new funding will also support the introduction of a community outreach programme which will work with Swansea schools. The Centre will be exhibiting Dylan’s poetry notebooks, on loan from the University at Buffalo collection, from May 31st.
The BBC’s Dylan Thomas season kicks off on BBC Wales on April 24th when they broadcast Welsh Greats : Dylan Thomas a documentary narrated by actor Matthew Rhys. On April 25th the first of two Dylan Thomas themed editions of Derek Brockway’s Weatherman Walking will go out, following Dylan’s footsteps in Swansea and Llansteffan. The second edition will focus on Laugharne. Poet Owen Sheers presents Dylan Thomas : A Poet’s Guide on BBC Two Wales on April 26th, and the following day will see a re-run of the documentary about Sir Peter Blake’s 25-year project to illustrate Under Milk Wood. Ugly, Lovely Swansea : A Poet On The Estate follows poet Benjamin Zephaniah as he attempts to organize a community performance of Dylan’s work on Swansea’s Townhill estate. A 60 minute version of Andrew Davies’ drama A Poet In New York starring Tom Hollander will show on BBC Wales on April 30th, with the full 75 minute version showing on BBC Two on May 18th.
May TV scheduling will include a star studded TV version of Under Milk Wood (May 5th) featuring Sir Tom Jones, Sian Phillips and Michael Sheen, and a documentary looking at Dylan’s wartime work on propaganda films A Poet At War.
On May 4th BBC Radio Three will broadcast the premiere of Dylan’s script Beach of Falesa based on a story by Robert Louis Stevenson, and the following day will host a day of programming dedicated to Dylan including poetry every hour and performances of Dylan Thomas inspired music from Cardiff’s Hoddinott Hall. BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru will broadcast a range of Dylan Thomas programmes including explorations of Dylan’s relationship with the Welsh language.
The BBC will also be joining the Dylan Weekend at Laugharne (May 2nd – 5th) to broadcast live from the event. Laugharne Castle will host a series of live and pre-recorded broadcasts, shows and performances. Free tickets are available for some events.
Dylan Weekend at Laugharne
The first of the special centenary weekends at Laugharne takes place from May 2nd to 5th. The poetry and film themed weekend includes numerous Dylan related events culminating in the National Theatre of Wales staging their own re-imagining of Under Milk Wood. Raw Material : Llareggub Revisited created by Marc Rees and Jon Tregenna is a live theatre experience and broadcast event in collaboration with BBC Cymru Wales that will take us on a journey through Laugharne.
Poets performing at the weekend include John Cooper Clarke, Simon Armitage, Wendy Cope, Murray Lachlan Young, Gwyneth Lewis, Jackie Kay, Paul Farley, Menna Elfyn, Owen Sheers. Jo Shapcott, Jah Wobble, Don Paterson, Rhian Edwards, Patrick Jones, and Luke Wright. Plays include Helen Griffin’s one woman performance as Dylan’s wife in Caitlin, and A Handful of Rain by Phil Bowen which imagines a meeting between Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas in Greenwich Village. Rhodri Miles will also be performing as Richard Burton in his award winning production. Dylan Thomas biographers Paul Ferris, George Tremlett and Jeff Towns will all be in attendance to discuss the man himself.
A selection of films shot or based in Wales during Dylan’s lifetime will be played in Brown’s Hotel, and the BBC will be broadcasting throughout the weekend from inside Laugharne Castle. Dylan’s Mobile Bookstore will be in attendance at the festival.
Other events coming soon include the launch of Literature Wales’ series of Dylan Odyssey literary tours which kick off on May 4th with a canoe journey across the Taf estuary at Laugharne in the company of Thomas experts John Goodby and Jeff Towns. Sir Peter Blake’s exhibition of illustrations from Under Milk Wood opens at Oriel Y Parc, St Davids, on May 17th. The annual Hay Festival runs from May 22nd until June 1st and includes a number of Dylan related events including a visit by the mobile replica of Dylan’s Laugharne writing shed. Dylan’s notebooks that contain much of his early poetry and have never been exhibited in Wales before are on display at the Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea, from May 31st.
For more information on events during May and beyond please check out our comprehensive Events page.
The Three Lives of Dylan Thomas by Hilly Janes is published by The Robson Press on May 15th. Journalist Hilly Janes explores Dylan’s life and legacy through the eyes of her father, the artist Alfred Janes, who was Thomas’s friend and painted the poet three times, in 1934, 1953 and, posthumously, 1965. The book draws on a personal archive that includes drawings, diaries, letters and includes new interviews with Thomas’s friends and descendants, as well as with biographers, critics and art historians.
Mwy Na Bardd: Bywyd a Gwaith Dylan Thomas (More Than a Poet: The Life and Works of Dylan Thomas) by Kate Crockett, published by Barddas. Journalist and BBC Wales presenter Kate Crockett takes a look at how Dylan’s deep Welsh roots, upbringing and the Welsh language influenced his thinking, his life and his works. Described as the first detailed study in Welsh of Dylan’s prose and poetry side by side with an in-depth look at his life.
In other book news the publication date for the new Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas edited by John Goodby is now October 2014.
Radio, TV & Film
A Poet In New York
As mentioned above the Andrew Davies scripted drama starring Tom Hollander debuts on BBC Wales on April 30th followed by BBC Two on May 18th. Reviews following screenings in March have been excellent. The soundtrack album is available from April 28th.
The production company behind the film starring Elijah Wood as John Malcolm Brinnin and Celyn Jones as Dylan, Set Fire To The Stars, have a new website.
The 1972 movie version of Under Milk Wood directed by Andrew Sinclair is due to be re-released on DVD and Blu-ray later this year.
Cerys Goes Under Milk Wood for BBC Radio 4. Cerys Matthews takes a side-ways look at the life and work of Dylan Thomas. Using special access to her uncle Colin Edwards’ extensive archive of interviews with those who knew him, she explores some of Dylan’s greatest and lesser known works and finds her way to the man behind the myth. Due for broadcast October 2014.
Director Kevin Allen has given an interview to The Knowledge about his forthcoming bi-lingual production of Under Milk Wood.
BBC Radio Wales have commissioned a short radio series Dylan’s Amateur Dramatics billed as an intimate and entertaining portrayal of life at Swansea Little Theatre Company where Dylan Thomas was once a member and performer. It will follow the volunteers at the heart of the theatre in the lead up to their own Dylan Thomas inspired play.
Dylan Watch on TV & Radio ITV News featured Swansea AM Julie James talking about Dylan’s legacy from the Senedd. The mobile replica of Dylan’s writing shed appeared on BBC Breakfast and ITV’s Coast & Country. Numerous trailers for the BBC Dylan Thomas season have been appearing across the BBC Wales network.
In The Papers
Coverage in the papers for the centenary celebrations and for travel features based on Dylan’s Wales continues to be good. The South Wales Evening Post produced a Dylan Thomas Centenary Special that can be viewed online here. Travel features appeared in The Australian, the British Airways magazine, The Telegraph and the New York Times. Pieces on Dylan’s work and legacy appeared in The Sunday Times, The Independent and The Times,
Birthplace Bedroom Makeover
Period artefacts and literature have been introduced to Dylan’s bedroom at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea, to help re-create the atmosphere of his boyhood room. Dylan’s granddaughter Hannah Ellis opened the newly designed bedroom. The birthplace has also launched an excellent new website where you can keep up to date with news and events from the house where Dylan spent his first 23 years.
A commemorative first day cover featuring the new Royal Mail Dylan Thomas stamp is now available from the Birthplace.
Laugharne also has a smart new website Laugharne Lines built around a map interface that provides links to information and local history including a good deal of Dylan related content.
Artists at work – Laugharne
Artists work was in evidence at the recent Laugharne Weekend most noticeably at the former home of Dylan’s parents The Pelican where Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson created art works for each of the windows.
Graffiti artist Stewy was responsible for Dylan’s appearance on a wall at Brown’s Hotel, and artist Dan Llywelyn Hall unveiled a portrait of Gwyneth Petty the last surviving cast member from the 1954 BBC production of Under Milk Wood.
Rock & Roll Poet
The regular market which takes place in Dylan’s home suburb of Uplands, Swansea, now includes a performance stage featuring artists and performers curated by the Do No Go Gentle festival. Jeff Towns’ Dylans Mobile Bookstore is also a regular attendee.
Painting on Tour
Swansea artist Jeff Phillips’ painting of Dylan Thomas at the BBC with other members of the Kardomah Boys has gone on tour. Following a launch at Morgan’s Hotel, Swansea, the painting will tour venues with a connection to Dylan including the Dylan Thomas Theatre, the Mumbles bookshop Cover to Cover, Noah’s Yard in Uplands, and others before returning to it’s future home in Morgan’s Hotel.
Wales Blog Awards
This blog has been shortlisted for a 2014 Wales Blog Award. The ceremony takes place at Chapter Arts, Cardiff, on May 15th. Thanks for all the support.