Award-winning writer works with students on Dylan Thomas project
Dylan Thomas is brought back to life as a ghost who revisits modern-day New York in a new 20 minute stage play commissioned by the Secretary of State for Wales to mark the centenary of the Welsh poet’s birth.
Time Passes receives its debut at Glyndŵr University on Tuesday 8 April ahead of a production of Under Milk Wood by the university’s theatre, TV and performance students.
Actor and writer Peter Read, who was asked by David Jones MP to create the work, said he wanted to use the opportunity to speculate on what Dylan Thomas would have made of the world today.
The play, named after a recurring phrase in Under Milk Wood, took three months to complete and extensive research, taking in more than 1000 pages of Thomas’s letters, biographies and a book written by his wife, Caitlin.
Peter said: “David Jones was keen to mark the centenary of Dylan’s birth with a new play which could be staged at a special event in the British Library in London.
“He was concerned that all the celebrations should not be based purely in South Wales and when I found out that Glyndŵr University was staging its own production of Under Milk Wood it seemed the perfect vehicle for Time Passes.
“The tabloid approach to Dylan Thomas has tended to put the hell-raising nature of his character – his womanising and drinking – first.
“Hopefully this will be a chance for people to read him without prejudice and discover the strength of his writing.”
Rejected by many of the British literati during his lifetime, Peter places Thomas in Westminster Abbey at the start of the play, where he is bemused that he lies in Poets’ Corner with many of his enemies. He then goes on to revisit places including United States, Iran and Prague.
“The great thing about a ghost is you can send him anywhere,” added Peter. “Dylan also pops over to Italy to see how his still-living wife, Caitlin, is managing.
“Time Passes begins with him watching the actors doing their exercises for a production of Under Milk Wood – cue Glyndŵr University’s production.”
Peter has had 12 plays staged professionally as well as having written work published, including poetry and ghost written autobiographies for Everton manager Roberto Martinez and Swansea manager Garry Monk.
His full-length, one man show Dylan in America, won five star reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2004 and 2005.
Peter been working with the students to develop their production of Under Milk Wood and believes they can learn a great deal from studying and performing works by Dylan Thomas.
He said: “At first they might feel the language is overcooked but I hope they will discover the musicality and power of the words.
“I also think that performing Under Milk Wood will show them how Dylan did not criticise eccentric behaviour but celebrated it.”
Elen Mai Nefydd, senior lecturer in theatre, TV and performance at Glyndŵr University, said: “The students have loved working with Peter and it’s been fantastic to be able to tap into his insight and in-depth knowledge of Dylan Thomas. This shows through in their own version of Under Milk Wood.”
The double bill of ‘Time Passes’ by Peter Read and the Glyndŵr University production of ‘Under Milk Wood’ is being performed on Tuesday 8, Wednesday 9 and Thursday 10 April at 7.30pm.
Matinees are also being held at 1.30pm on April 9 and 10. Tickets are priced £5 adults and £3 concessions and are available by calling 01978 293293.