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Wales Arts Review 3.21




Wales Arts Review 3.21 leads with (you guessed it) a tribute to Dylan Thomas, on the weekend that marks a hundred years since the poet’s birth. You may very well be of the mind that there is nothing left to be said, such has been the saturation throughout this year, but we beg to differ. Our Senior Editor Gary Raymond explores the difficult matter of Dylan’s legacy in his essay, ‘Dylan Thomas: The Industry of Tragedy and the Antithetical Mask’; Jasper Rees interviews one of the last surviving people to know the poet well, the widow of his best friend Vernon Watkins, ‘In Conversation with Gwen Watkins’; as well as an adjoining feature where Jasper brings together a number of reminiscences from people who met Thomas, such as Siân Phillips (soon to be Wales Arts Review’s guest of honour at our Roundtable event next week), Desmond Morris and Eileen Mitchell; Richard Redman brings an exclusive report on news of a more permanent tribute to Dylan Thomas, just announced by the relevant parties in the last 24 hours; and Adam Somerset looks at the four most prominent television programmes on the life and work of Thomas to be aired during the anniversary celebrations, in ‘Dylan on TV’.

But it’s not all Dylan Thomas this issue, and there is more than enough for any of our readers who would like a little less of the Swansea bard with their cornflakes.

In opera, Linda Christmas reviews an important new work by Philip Glass following its world première by Music Theatre Wales: Kafka’s The Trial; and Steph Power reviews Welsh National Opera’s much anticipated Moses in Egypt. Staying with music, but of a very different kind, we are very excited to celebrate a new publication from Swansea-born rock guitarist and writer of extremely entertaining autobiographies, Deke Leonard. Here we bring you exclusive extracts of his new book, In the Land of My Fathers: Welsh Guitarists, looking at some of the great figures of guitar playing Deke has known: showcasing his characteristic caustic wit, we have his essay on Badfinger’s Peter Ham and on one of Wales’ most undervalued musical virtuosos, Micky Gee.

At Wales Arts Review at the moment, we are all very busy preparing for our biennial Roundtable event at Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre (tickets still available) on November 1st. We have seven panel discussions on the day, (as well as the announcement of the winner of the Greatest Welsh Novel project), and here we preview two of the debates, with Craig Austin’s ‘The Age of Understatement: The Decline and Fall of Political Pop’, and Gary Raymond’s ‘A Letter Addressed to the Future: What is a Critic?’ It’s going to be a fascinating and passion-fuelled day.

We start our coverage of October’s Black History Month, with two interviews from Hannah Lawson: she speaks to Daniel Betts about taking on the role of Atticus Finch in the award-winning adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird currently visiting Cardiff as part of the events; and finds the time for a quick Q&A with Tangled Roots writer Adam Lowe about the project. You can look forward to further coverage of the events from Hannah in our next issue.

Wales Arts Review was also at this year’s Film Fest Cymru, where Julie Bainbridge and Peter Gaskell experienced workshops, panel debates and screenings.

In theatre, Phil Morris enjoyed a dramatic atmosphere with a difference at Crashmat Collective’s Façade; and Jemma Beggs was blown away by the touring show of dance experimentalists Grupo Corpo.

In books, Kate North reviews the new Booker Prize-nominated novel from Ali Smith, How to be Both; Matthew Mathias looks over the début novel from player-turned rugby commentator Eddie Butler, The Head of Gonzo Davies; and Bethan Tachwedd reviews New Tab from Guillaume Morissette.

And finally, and with a great deal of pride, we are excited to publish three brand new poems from award-winning poet Ruth Bidgood.

And there is still some time to contribute to the future of Wales Arts Review – our Crowdfunder was granted an extension until the Roundtable, so please donate. Every donation, no matter how small, is valued enormously by our hard-working team of dedicated volunteers.

See you at the Roundtable!


Banner illustration by Dean Lewis

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