Bryn Terfel Theatre slated to open with strike drama

Chwalfa at Theatr Bryn Terfel, Pontio. Credit Departures.
Chwalfa at Theatr Bryn Terfel, Pontio. Credit Departures.

The Bryn Terfel Theatre, Bangor University’s new arts and innovation centre, opens next month with a new play about the history of the Penrhyn Quarry’s great strike.

Chwalfa, T Rowland Hughes’ popular book about the longest running industrial dispute in UK history, is adapted for the stage by Gareth Miles.

Chwalfa will be performed in Welsh with English summary. Tickets are now on sale.

The production will include a large cast of professional actors as well as members of the local community.

Arwel Gruffydd, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru’s artistic director, will direct the production.

Played out over three tempestuous years, the Penrhyn Quarry strike tore apart a local community.

The stubborn and intransigent industrialist owner of the mine refused to give in to the demands of his 2,800 employees as they fought for better working conditions.

Chwalfa, meaning “dispersal” or “upheaval”, tells the story of a single family led by a father who leads the strike in what has become recognised as a defining moment in the history of socialism and the unions in the UK.

Director Arwel Gruffydd said: “It’s a great honour to stage the very first production at Theatr Bryn Terfel.

“What better story to tell as the new theatre opens than the quarrymen’s most famous one?

“These were the men who gave from their meagre wages to help build Bangor University so that their children would not suffer as they did, so it’s very fitting as Pontio is part of the university.

“There’s no doubt that there’s a great amount of talent in the area and we look forward very much to starting the rehearsals!”

Pontio’s artistic director Elen ap Robert said: “The theme of our opening season is slate and its relationship with our communities.

“In Welsh ‘Lle-chi’ meaning ‘your place’ is a play on the word for slate. There are many reasons why this is such an evocative theme.

“We will be unveiling an innovative piece of public art in the landscape of the new centre.”

Chwalfa runs from September 17-27.

Tickets on sale from Pontio website: www.pontio.co.uk/chwalfa / 01248 382828

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