'A Stage Drama Is Never Finished' Cardiff-Based Playwright Dafydd James Is Penning the First Welsh Language Drama to Be Staged by Students from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Sherman Cymru. Karen Price Asks Him What It's like to Work with Emerging Talent

South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales), February 7, 2014 | Go to article overview

'A Stage Drama Is Never Finished' Cardiff-Based Playwright Dafydd James Is Penning the First Welsh Language Drama to Be Staged by Students from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Sherman Cymru. Karen Price Asks Him What It's like to Work with Emerging Talent


PLAYWRIGHT Dafydd James is pondering the advantages of working with a group of young actors.

"I love working with young people as it gives you a new look at our greatly-changing world so that you don't become too much of a dinosaur," he laughs.

At just 34, he has a long way to go yet before he's collecting his pension, which is just as well as he's one of the busiest writers, actors and musicians in South Wales, more on which later.

But he's currently pouring his energies into the first Welsh language stage collaboration between Sherman Cymru and the Royal Welsh College of Drama.

Fe Ddaw'r Byd I Ben (The World Will End) will be performed, designed and technically managed by Welsh speaking students from the Cardiff-based conservatoire, where James leads writing workshops.

Two established actors - Siw Hughes and John Norton - will also be appearing alongside the student cast in the play which will be directed by Sherman Cymru's Associate Director for Welsh language work, Mared Swain.

And James says that he's learning just as much as the students by being a part of the collaborative process.

"The students are very enthusiastic, energetic and talented - it's always exciting working with new people but this is a whole cast of new young people who have all got something to say and great ideas. The students are investing in their own charatcers and giving their take on things.

"As a writer it's a great way to develop new work as you have five young talented actors at your disposal to do workshops with and discuss things with."

Fe Ddaw'r Byd I Ben is set on a dilapidated farmhouse in rural Vale of Glamorgan. When Sara, the estranged daughter, returns home after five years of silence to announce the world's about to end, her Mother, Ethni (played by Huws), is determined to host the last supper.

As the home falls to pieces around them, the family must confront the grief that has torn them apart, and through facing the end, begin to live once again.

"I was keen to set it in a rural location," says James, who is originally from Cowbridge but now lives in Cardiff. "A lot of the stuff I've written in the past has been quite urban in nature. There's a tradition for kitchen sink dramas in Welsh language plays and I wanted to do a play which was a little bit like that. At the start you feel that you are in a safe Welsh rural environment but it becomes something far more epic in the end."

James says the script has evolved during the workshops with the students.

"In the end I had to stop it from evolving so that we could learn the script," he laughs. "But, for me, a theatre piece is never finished - it evolves in front of an audience as well."

After studying English literature in Edinburgh and a PhD at Warwick University, James went to the London International School of Performing Arts (LISPA) where the teaching style is influenced by the famous Jacques Lecoq School in Paris.

"I had always wanted to be an actor and went to theatre school intending to create my own theatre company and perform. …

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'A Stage Drama Is Never Finished' Cardiff-Based Playwright Dafydd James Is Penning the First Welsh Language Drama to Be Staged by Students from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Sherman Cymru. Karen Price Asks Him What It's like to Work with Emerging Talent
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