Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Dog

Emlyn Williams Theatre, Mold, North Wales: 20th February 2003

Clwyd Theatr Cymru commemorated the 50th anniversary of the death of the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) with a superb run of performances by a small but accomplished cast of actors.

Described in the programme as "A theatrical journey through the prose writing of Dylan Thomas", the production was created by Tim Baker, an Associate of the Royal National Theatre, who won the Manchester Evening News Best Visiting Production award in 1992 for the highly acclaimed To Kill a Mockingbird.

Although Thomas is best known for his 'play for voices', Under Milk Wood, his evocative poems such as Fern Hill and Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night are rarely overlooked when anthologies celebrating 20th century poetry are put together. Indeed, this mesmerizing interpretation of Thomas's short stories could well be described as a rich fusion of prose and poetry. For example, in a scene crossing a river he speaks of, "slipping stepping stones" and early on in the piece he describes his "love" of words thus:

"And these words were, to me, as the notes of bells, the sounds of musical instruments, the noises of wind, sea and rain, the rattle of milk carts, the clopping of hooves on cobbles, the fingering of branches on a window pane, might be to someone deaf from birth, who has miraculously found his hearing."

The company of five use only stools and orange boxes to set the scenes for Thomas's vivid recollections of his boyhood in Swansea. The young Dylan is played brilliantly by Russell Gomer, who struts and capers across the hazily lit stage, reliving the poet's every memory as if it was his own. His fellow actors play a myriad of characters. The slightly built but enormously gifted Zo Davies is adept at playing both male and female roles, from oppressed aunts to inebriated old men. And Morgan Walters, a ginger-haired giant of a man, is memorable for his portrayal of the young poet's bear-like uncle, as well as Les, Thomas's friend who invents names for passing strangers, and as a relation who steals livestock to pay for drinking binges. Whilst the cherubic-faced David Rees Talbot puts in a particularly memorable performance as Ray, a young man whose tragic past is briefly forgotten but inevitably revisited when he and Thomas ramble to the seaside to paddle in the surf.

The enigmatic and engaging Thomas lived a short and self-destructive, if literary fruitful life. His father, an English teacher at the local grammar school, began to read Shakespeare to him at the age of four and he started to write poetry in his eighth year. His childhood and adolescence were central to his later work ? although he left school without formal qualifications and did not learn the Welsh language. He moved from Swansea to London in 1934, famously remarking, "The land of my fathers My fathers can keep it."

Thomas's first two books, 18 Poems and Twenty-five Poems, were published respectively in 1934 and 1936. He married Caitlin Macnamara in 1937 (they had three children during their tempestuous years together) and he made his first radio broadcast with Life and the Modern Poet on the BBC Welsh Services the following year. After the Second World War, his popularity as a poet grew in direct proportion to his reputation as a heavy drinker. However, his positive, rhetorical style won an enthusiastic following and poems such as A Refusal to Mourn the Death by Fire of a Child in London led to lecture tours of the United States. He died in St. Vincent's Hospital, New York, on 9th November 1953.

This stage adaptation of Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Dog ? so bristling with humour and pathos - will undoubtedly delight parents and teachers endeavouring to introduce young people to Thomas's work. Adult audiences will also be entranced by its wry, witty narrative and flamboyant presentation. There is little doubt that, in the future, new theatrical companies will revive the production and it will become a fitting tribute to one of the world's great 20th century poets.

About The Author

Paula has contributed features to numerous guidebooks, magazines and journals on the subjects of literature, travel, culture and history. She is currently the editor of two online guides: All Info About Poetry http://poetry.allinfo-about.com and All Info-About English Culture http://englishculture.allinfoabout.com.

poets@allinfo-about.com

In The News:


The Poetry of Raymond Carver Makes a Leap to E-Books
New York Times
In September, Vintage will publish a digital edition of “Beginners,” the unedited, uncut manuscript of his 1981 collection, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” The unedited collection caused a stir when Mr. Carver's widow, the poet Tess ...


Opinionator | Poetry Kept My Patient Alive
New York Times (blog)
Steve, my patient, fancied himself a poet, first and foremost. Brilliant, yet sadly bedeviled by schizoaffective disorder — a condition somewhere between schizophrenia and bipolar — he feared he would die before his gift was discovered. “I think I'm ...


Salt Lake Tribune

Utah Cowboy Poetry Festival is 'dad burn' fun
Salt Lake Tribune
(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jay "Bo" Dean from Helena, Montana, plays his guitar at the Cowboy Legends Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival at the Fielding-Garr Ranch on Antelope Island, Saturday, May 23, 2015.


Asheville Citizen-Times

Book thief vents rage on laureate's poetry with shotgun
Asheville Citizen-Times
Two-time U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins has been blasted by critics before but never this literally. Miegan and Chan Gordon, the veteran booksellers of rare and used books at The Captain's Bookshelf, have the proof that poetry, long mourned as dead ...

and more »

Press of Atlantic City

Somers Point's poet laureate to play key role in Memorial Day service
Press of Atlantic City
Maria Provenzano, of Somers Point was officially named Poet Laureate for the city. One of her public duties will include a reading of the classic, tragic World War I poem, In Flanders Field, during the Memorial Day ceremony held Monday at Patriot Park.


Ted Kooser: An American life in poetry, May 24, 2015
Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette
and for sixty years, she has taken it. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (http://www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It also is supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska ...
TED KOOSER: Standing strongRapid City Journal

all 2 news articles »

Newbritainherald

New Britain to seek poet laureate
Newbritainherald
“I am excited that New Britain will soon have an ambassador for poetry who will spread rhymes and verses throughout our community,” Stewart said. “The laureate will play an important role in cultivating an appreciation of poetry among our youth and ...
Huddersfield poet Simon Armitage bids for top roleHuddersfield Examiner
Special or ordinaryRutland Herald

all 4 news articles »

Redding Record Searchlight

Amber Tamblyn writes book of poetry about dead actresses
Redding Record Searchlight
In this Feb. 1, 2014 file photo, Amber Tamblyn arrives at the Writers Guild Awards, in Los Angeles. Tamblyn's new book of poetry called “Dark Sparkler” (Harper Perennial) is a downer, a magnifying glass about the way we immortalize particularly young ...


TheChronicleHerald.ca

Powerful language fires poetry of Clarke in Traverse
TheChronicleHerald.ca
One of Canada's most celebrated living poets, George Elliott Clarke, marks 30 years of illustrious versifying in Traverse. Released a year ago, this retrospective book provides a personal, first-hand glimpse into the making of Africadia's foremost poet ...


Omaha World-Herald

Ted Kooser's 'American Life in Poetry' (May 24)
Omaha World-Herald
Poets often do their best work when they're telling us about something they've seen without stepping into the poem and talking about themselves. Here's a lovely poem of observation by Terri Kirby Erickson, who lives in North Carolina. Hospital Parking Lot.
Modern costumes make for an ill fit to Shakespeare's poetryThe Keene Sentinel
Friday Finishers: One poet's missionThe Herald Journal

all 2,549 news articles »
Google News

Biography of Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte (1816 ?1855) Novelist and Poet.Charlotte was the daughter... Read More

Man Unbowed [A poem]

Man UnbowedUnbowed by sin, the world of man, stands Upon... Read More

Ballade of an Inca King

Ah! Leave the gold, wealth and landSays the Inca King?;... Read More

How to Write Bad Poetry

"All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling."--Oscar WildePeople write poetry... Read More

The Power of Eating Disorders

I want to get closeI am afraid.Afraid of what... Read More

Burning Autumn Leaves [a poem in Spanish and English]

Burning Autumn Leaves [1950s in St. Paul, Minnesota]My long steel... Read More

Learn About Love From Poet Rumi

In this modern age of technology, busy lifestyles, and obsession... Read More

THe Monster Mash, A Graveyard SMASH (short story I wrote when I was 11)

The Monster Mash The Graveyard SmashHave you heard of the... Read More

Farewell to Lester Graybill

I never met a man, who could shake my hand,... Read More

Savage Nature: The Life of Ted Hughes

One of the most important poets of the post-war period,... Read More

Thank You To Our Soldiers And A Tribute To Old Glory And A Prayer For Peace

Thank youDedicated to soldiers and their loved onesFor those who... Read More

Cruel World

Azra, Azra, Wake up Azra. Wake up Azra, It is... Read More

Commuting Hell!

It's dark, it's cold, its' just six thirty,thoughts of sleep... Read More

Grandpas House & From Iraq with Love [Two Poems]

Grandpa's House [The ole Real House]The house needed painting Sun-blistered... Read More

The Butcher of Lima and Footprints to Mantaro Valley (Two Poems)

Footprints to Mantaro Valley (Peru; in English and Spanish)In what... Read More

Kens Poem

How wonderfully sweet to be a dweller dwelling... Read More

House of the Goblin [Part Two of Three/with notes]

House of the Goblin [Part Two of Three]Here is where,... Read More

An Old Wood Pile [a poem with notes]

Old skin, once held tight Against her skeleton- Rose no... Read More

Arizona Blue--Gunfighter: The Wolves Nest [Chapter One of Seven: The North]

[Episode Five]Arizona Blue-GunfighterThe Wolves Nest-in the North[Episode Five]Northern Minnesota Area?Winter... Read More

The Poets Corner [Three Poems with a review]

The Poet's Corner [Three poem/ see review of poetry under... Read More

Testimony to the Night [In English and Spanish]

In the quiet of the arctic night- In its deep... Read More

Let Your Feelings Be Your Guide

The light of all eternity shines with me now /... Read More

Writing Innovative Poetry

Writing innovative poetry, the kind of poetry that reputable literary... Read More

Rules for Writing Poetry

You've been writing poetry since that first assignment in your... Read More

New Poetic Work By Ethiopian Immigrant Promotes Respect, Courage And Cultural Sensitivity

McLean, VA - "The Healing Conscious" tells the story of... Read More