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Penblywdd Hapus, Dylan

October 27, 2014


I can’t imagine Dylan Thomas as an old man. But I bet that even at the age of a hundred his voice would be interesting. Here is a link to him reading Do Not Go Gentle.

On the hundredth anniversary of his birth, there’s a lot of Dylan in the media. No bad thing, that. Michael Sheen and Kate Burton will perform in a production of Under Milk Wood in New York; on the stage where it was first performed. But if there’s a place I’d like to be today, it’s at Swansea Grand Theatre where a 36 hour Dylan-fest is taking place. The festival was opened yesterday by Jo Brand, and will include readings by schoolchildren and actors such as Lisa Rogers, Helen Griffin, Ian McKellan, and  Sian Phillips.  Ireland’s President, Michael D. Higgins, is visiting Wales and will drop by to take part in the celebrations.  And why not? Thomas had an Irish wife – Caitlín MacNamara.  Better still, a County Clare wife! I like to think of  him as one of Ireland’s ‘literary in-laws’.

I love Dylan, plain and simple.

At a long-ago Dublin Theatre Festival,  I sat enthralled by Emlyn Williams’s one-man show about Thomas. I’ve performed excerpts from Under Milk Wood so I have huge affection for the play. I harbour a secret ambition to direct a production for local radio. And, if I do get to do it, I’m bloody well singing Polly Garter’s song myself!

When I was acting, I tracked down a copy of the original recording of the play on cassette at McCullagh Piggots music shop in Dublin. That wasn’t today nor yesterday, either. Those tapes are the reason I still have a cassette player.  Here is Kate’s father, Richard Burton, reading from Under Milk Wood   You might like to check out this site as well:

Or, perhaps, this:

under milk wood

There are the stories and the poetry and the lectures and the lies and the legends and the half-truths and the drink and the hard work and New York and the Larne boat- house and the laughter and the tears and Dylan reading Dylan and others reading Dylan.

Off you go now and find some of them.

Me, I’m going to light the fire, make a cuppa, and listen to those cassettes again.

“To begin at the beginning: …”

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