“Gwlad? Dwedai wrthoch chi beth mae gwlad yn golygu i mi…”

“A country? I’ll tell you what a country means to me…”

Awen Cultural Trust (Awen) has produced its first Welsh language play ‘Gwlad! Gwlad!’ The play will premiere as part of this summer’s Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru (National Eisteddfod of Wales) programme at YMa in Pontypridd on 4th and 5th August before touring to Maesteg Town Hall next spring.

‘Gwlad! Gwlad!’ is described as ‘a rousing collision of land, song, people and time on a surreal journey into the heart of nationalism’, exploring the legacy of Wales’s national anthem through powerful, provocative and, at times, poignant episodic storytelling, brought to life by both historical and fictional characters.

Written by award-winning Welsh writer Chris Harris, directed by Harvey Evans, with music composed by Stacey Blythe and produced by Awen’s Creative Producer Pedro Lloyd Gardiner, ‘Gwlad! Gwlad!’ will feature aspiring performing arts professionals from Awen’s training initiative for 18 to 25 year-olds, Lansiad, and Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.

This project is supported by Arts Council of Wales and Welsh Government.

Chris Harris said: “’Gwlad! Gwlad!’ is not a history play, but a darkly comic response to our convoluted discourse on patriotism, nationalism, heroes and warriors…an imagined void between reality and fantasy. As a writer, I am always interested in the unconventional questions that turn our way of thinking on its head. ‘Gwlad! Gwlad!’ asks how one anthem can represent a whole country. Is it still relevant? For whom does it speak?

“The play represents the episodic, fragmented and chaotic mindset that constitutes the disjointed nature of the nationalist agenda, echoing the voices of the community it plays to, so that order can be made from chaos…or chaos can be made from order, whichever arrives at the audience first. I’m very excited to bring this surreal and electrifying story to life with this incredible company of artists.”

Harvey Evans said: “As the director of ‘Gwlad! Gwlad!’, my creative vision is to create an immersive experience that challenges conventional ideas of patriotism and nationalism, while also celebrating the rich cultural heritage of Wales. Our compact cast of four aims to take the audience on a surreal journey that prompts them to reflect on the complexities of identity and belonging.

“I am passionate about working with young artists and thrilled to be collaborating with Lansiad to provide a platform for young performers to refine their skills and gain valuable experience in the performing arts industry. I look forward to seeing these incredibly talented individuals grow and flourish as they bring their passion and dedication to the stage.”

Richard Hughes, Chief Executive of Awen Cultural Trust, added: “The concept for ‘Gwlad! Gwlad!’ was inspired by a serendipitous connection; the anthem was written in Pontypridd and first performed in Maesteg, both towns where we are entrusted to manage theatres on behalf of our local authority partners. As an organisation which is proud of its Welsh history, culture and heritage, it’s a real privilege to showcase this play at this year’s Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru. We look forward to hearing what the audiences think of it.”