Drama students given new voice by Dylan Thomas’s timeless classic

A famous Dylan Thomas play for voices is been given a new twist by a group of budding thespians.

Drama students have been working on a version of Thomas’s best known and most popular work, Under Milk Wood.

It’s being put on thanks to a collaboration between adult education specialists Coleg Harlech WEA, Holywell Communities First and the Flintshire-based Trap Door Theatre Productions,

The cast of 22 mainly Holywell-based actors are all students on a course in performing arts and have been drawn from all sections of the community.

They will be bringing the timeless masterpiece, celebrating a day in the life of a small Welsh fishing village, Llareggub, to life  at the Stiwt Theatre, Rhos, near Wrexham, on Friday, July 27.

Coleg Harlech WEA Curriculum Manager Nick Taylor plays the roles of Mr Ogmore and Mr Pugh in the production.

He said: “We are really looking forward to performing Under Milk Wood on the Stiwt Theatre stage.

“This has been a real community effort thanks to our work with Holywell Communities First and Trap Door Theatre Productions.

“Amy Courtenay, the proprietor of Trap Door, took on the role of director for the production as well as tutor for the course.

“Thanks to the efforts of Communities First the cast is a real cross section of society from the unemployed and employed, housewives, school children and retired people.”

He added: “We began casting and rehearsals in early March and it has been fascinating to see the cast develop and grow in confidence. It really has been a wonderful community effort.

“And although it may be the first time on a real stage for many of the cast the Stiwt is a wonderful old theatre and we are all very much looking forward to performing there and putting all we have learned into practice.”

Waitress Kerry Lewsey, 23, of Sychdyn, plays the roles of Lily Small and Rosie Probert and is really excited at the prospect of performing at the Stiwt Theatre.

She said: “I heard about the project through Amy and decided to come along and audition. I was thrilled to be offered the roles and think it’s such a fantastic play.

“The whole project has given me a taste for drama and I’d love to do more theatre in the future. I have really enjoyed the course and made a number of new friends as well as boosting my confidence.”

Holywell High School pupil, Yasmine Kovacs, 14, of Gronant, near Holywell has learned a great deal from being involved in the project.

She said: “I play two roles, one as a little girl and the second as Mae-Rose Cottage. I got involved as my mum saw a leaflet advertising auditions and rehearsals.

“I have learned so much and met loads of new people and made new friends. It has been really good working alongside older people too.

“I’m nervous about performing on stage but it will be a fantastic opportunity. I think I’d like to be involved in drama in the future so to earn a performing arts qualification from Coleg Harlech is a great start.”

For retired Toastmaster Brian Russell, 74, of Holywell, Under Milk Wood sees him return to the stage after an absence of more than 32 years.

He said: “To be perfectly honest I came down to see if I could help out with any writing but was asked to audition for the role of Captain Cat. Vanity meant I had to say yes when I was offered the role!

“I do have some acting experience having performed with Mold County Players many years ago. However, I thought I’d retired until I came along here and met Amy!”

He added: “It’s very much a community effort involving employed and unemployed people, children and retired people like myself. I have certainly made many new friends too and it really has been a whole new experience.”

Amy Courtenay is delighted to have been involved with the project as course tutor as well as directing the production.

She said: “This has been a fantastic group of people to work with. It has brought some people out of their shells and I have watched as their confidence has grown throughout the rehearsal process.

“My task is really three roles in one. I have been teaching acting skills to those taking part in the project, directing the production and finally I will be assessing the course as a whole.

“The cast really is a cross section of society and although we began with some who could act already many had never been involved in drama before. But we now have a really competent all-round cast who have all progressed incredibly well.

“I’m certainly looking forward to seeing all their hard work come to fruition when we perform at the Stiwt Theatre. And I think many of the cast will surprise themselves at just how far they have come.”

For more information on getting tickets or how to get involved in future activity please ring Coleg Harlech WEA on 01978 318866.

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