Theatr Soffa’s Festive Treat: A Child’s Christmas in Wales
Communities across Pembrokeshire worked hard throughout the winter on their English and Welsh performances of Dylan Thomas’ beloved Christmas tale, ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’, that was live-streamed to audiences in December 2021.
Rehearsals took place over video calls as part of the innovative Theatr Soffa project, with people participating from across rural Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, thus making it possible for those with underlying health conditions to take part in a community project. Span Arts, Menter Iaith Sir Benfro and Cered have collaborated to bring Welsh and English language groups together; the casts have been creative in crafting props and costumes to bring the heartwarming story to life.
Dylan Thomas’s lyrical account of his childhood Christmases in a small Welsh town is a beloved story to many, featuring wolves, bears, hippos and Mrs Prothero’s cat. The play version was presented in both Welsh and English, using the beautiful translation by the late Bryan Martin Davies. It proved the perfect nostalgic winter treat for those who have fond memories to look back on, and young audiences building their own memories for the years to come. The production featured the stunning music of Deuair, comprised of the musical talents of Elsa Davies and Ceri Owen-Jones, and the beautiful original artwork of Jake Whittaker, who also acts as the Creative technologist on the production.
Theatr Soffa is part of a wider Span Arts and Health project which has received HARP funding from the Arts Council of Wales and Y Lab (Cardiff University and Nesta). This funding covers numerous community arts activities with a focus on health, wellbeing and collaboration between Arts Organisations and Health partners. This has been developed following Span’s prior successful Theatr Soffa projects which began with the ground-breaking live-streamed productions of Dylan Thomas’ ‘Under Milk Wood’ / ‘Dan y Wenallt’ at the start of the pandemic.
Anna Sherratt, who directed the piece, said, “It’s a great pleasure to be working with groups in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion again towards two magical performances. The casts really support each other throughout and it’s lovely to witness them making props for each other and finding joy and purpose in making something together. I’ve loved ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ ever since being a child myself and hearing an audio recorded version on cassette tape for the first time, so it’s great to see people from a wide range of backgrounds bringing it to life.”
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