Job Title: Administration and Finance Officer
Salary Scale: £26,000.00 — £35,060.00 (depending on experience)
Location: Caernarfon or other locations as the business requires (working from home when necessary).
Hours per week: 38 hours
Cwmni Theatr Bara Caws has been presenting Welsh language productions of all kinds at the heart of Welsh communities for over 40 years. We are currently seeking a new member to join the Management Team as an Administration and Finance Officer. This is a wonderful (and rare!) opportunity for the successful candidate to play a part in the next exciting phase of this unique Company. We look forward to getting back to touring, to meeting our many audiences face to face once again, and to moving to a brand new workplace!
Come join us on the journey.
The post centres around providing administrative and financial support to the Company. We are looking for an individual with excellent communication and organisational skills, with an interest in community theatre.
The successful candidate is expected to take up the post as soon as possible.
Please note that to be considered for this post, the successful applicant must be able to work through the medium of Welsh.
To apply please send your CV and a letter outlining your eligibility for the role to Mari Emlyn firstname.lastname@example.org, or for further details contact Mari on 07880031302
The closing date for applications is 22 April 2022.
(1954 – 2020)
I drymgwsg y didramgwydd – y cwympaist,
Ein campwr ddramodydd.
Hedd y daith ar ddiwedd dydd
Didrannoeth a didrennydd.
Y tro cyntaf welais i Siôn oedd ar lwyfan Ysgol Maes Garmon – minnau yn fy mlwyddyn 1af a fo’n y 6ed – pan oedd o’n perfformio mewn pantomeim ‘roedd o wedi ei ‘sgwennu, a hyd yn oed bryd hynny ‘roedd o’n licio gwthio ffiniau… Ac mi barhaodd i wneud hynny gydol ei yrfa, ond byth herio er mwyn herio’n unig — ‘roedd o’n teimlo’n angerddol ynglŷn ag agor llygaid cynulleidfaoedd i bob math o themâu a phosibiliadau, ac er ei fod wedi bod yn llenor toreithiog ym mhob maes, yn Gymraeg ac yn Saesneg, ‘dwi’n bendant mai ‘sgwennu ar gyfer y llwyfan oedd o’n fwynhau fwyaf, oherwydd dyma lle oedd o’n teimlo bod ganddo’r rhyddid i ddefnyddio’i lais ei hun.
Pan ymunais i â Bara Caws fel Cyfarwyddwr Artistig mi gysylltodd yn gofyn am gael cyd-weithio ac mae hi wedi bod yn siwrne gyfoethog, ddiddorol a hapus dros ben.
Bu i ni lwyfannu Garw yn 2014 ac Yfory yn 2016 a bu’r ddwy’n llwyddiannau ysgubol gan ddenu cynulleidfaoedd yn eu cannoedd ac ennill gwobrau lu – gan gynnwys yr Awdur Gorau yn Gymraeg i Siôn ddwy waith. Ein bwriad oedd llwyfannu’r drydedd yn ei drioleg gwleidyddol, Fienna, fis Medi eleni ond oherwydd y pandemig ‘roedd rhaid gohirio. Pan gysylltais â Siôn i egluro ‘roedd yn deall i’r dim ond yn daer i ni barhau â’n cynlluniau o lwyfannu’r ddrama olaf i ni ei gomisiynu ganddo, Byd Dan Eira, yn ystod 2021 gan ei bod yn nodi 40 mlynedd ers sefydlu Gwersyll Heddwch Comin Greenham gan griw o ferched o Dde Cymru. Mi drïwn ein gorau i wireddu ei ddymuniad.
Bob tro byddem ni’n cyfarfod ‘roedd y sgyrsiau’n dilyn pob math o lwybrau – ‘roedd o’n athrylith, yn angerddol, yn annwyl, yn weithiwr diflino, yn gefnogol, yn werthfawrogol o bopeth a’n llawn hiwmor direidus – fyddai’n cadw’r negeseuon (cyfrinachol!) aeth nôl ac ymlaen rhyngom am byth.
Credai Siôn yn angerddol bod yn rhaid i bob cenedl ymdrechu i greu awyrgylch ble byddai artistiaid yn gyffredinol, ac awduron yn benodol, yn gallu datblygu a ffynnu… Ymroddodd o’i egni a’i amser i geisio sefydlu a datblygu cymuned o ysgrifenwyr proffesiynol yng Nghymru, yn ysgrifennu yn y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg, ac fe wnaeth hynny yn ddiflino. Roedd ei ddeallusrwydd, ei gymeriad hawddgar, ei ffraethineb, ei uniondeb gwleidyddol a phroffesiynol, yn ogystal â’i gefnogaeth garedig a hael o ysgrifenwyr eraill, yn ddigymar. Mae gan lawer o ysgrifenwyr yng Nghymru heddiw le i ddiolch yn fawr iawn i Siôn am eu teithiau hwythau drwy gelfyddyd ysgrifennu.
Ond er ei holl lwyddiannau, mi roedd Siôn yn ddyn diymhongar, wastad yn barod i ddysgu, i wella, i’w “gael e’n iawn”. Byddai’n ymchwilio yn ddyfal, ac yn ail-sgwennu ac yn adolygu ei waith yn ddiflino. Roedd ei lais yn unigryw, ei ddawn yn unigryw, a’i ddynoliaeth yn ddiamheuol. Yn syml, does yna neb fel Siôn wedi bod erioed, a bydd neb yn camu i’w esgidiau. Mae’n golled enfawr arall i’r gymuned greadigol yng Nghymru, ac mi fydd yn gadael bwlch enfawr ar ei ôl.
Er mai ond llond dwrn o weithiau nes i gwrdd â Siôn mi o’n nhw’n achlysuron sy’n aros yn y cof. Y rheswm penna am hyn oedd fod Siôn byth yn rhuthro o gwmni rhywun, hyd yn oed os oedd ’na bobol llawer pwysicach a diddorol yn ceisio dal ei lygad. Bonheddwr yn sicr, ond hefyd rhywun a oedd wir yn gwrando ar bobol, eu storïau, eu barn, eu dyheuadau a’u hanes. Dwi’n cofio’r cyfarfod cyntaf yn glir, alla’i weld e’ nawr, yn eistedd wrth y bar gyda merch ifanc hardd, Erica, yng nghlwb rygbi St Peter, Newport Rd rhywbryd yn yr ‘80au cynnar. Wrth i mi agosau at y bar y peth nesa roedd Siôn yn brasgamu ata i gyda gwên anferth a’i law wedi’i hestyn yn barod i gyfarch. O fewn charter awr o’n i’n teimlo fel hên ffrind mynwesol iddo…i Siôn Eirian!…o’n i mor browd.
Fel o’n i’r tro ola i mi dreulio rhai oriau yn ei gwmni. Noson Gwobrau Theatr Cymru yn 2015 lle naethon ni, Theatr Bara Caws, gyda’r sioe Garw gan Siôn, ennill pedair gwobr. Anhygoel o noson.
‘Roedd chwarae Llew yn Garw yn brofiad cathartig a dweud y lleia. Dwi’n cofio’r cyfnod mae’r ddrama wedi’i seilio ynddo’n glir, y dynfa a’r newidiadau oedd yn digwydd i gymunedau bach yng Nghymru yn ystod, ac yn dilyn, streic y glowyr yn yr ‘80au, ac yn amlwg, ‘roedd Siôn hefyd. ‘Roedd taith y cymeriadau, y teulu bach ‘ma oedd yn cynrychioli ffawd miloedd o deluoedd yn y cyfnod dirdynnol hwnnw, yn un truenus ac ar brydiau yn boenus, ond yn stori hynod o bwysig i’w rhannu, wrth i ni wylio eu dyheadau a’u bywydau’n gorfod newid yn llwyr. Wrth gwrs, fel pob awdur gwerth ei halen, ‘roedd Siôn wedi plannu hiwmor a chwithigrwydd ynghanol yr anobaith.
I mi fel actor, ‘roedd yr arfau a roddodd Siôn i’r cymeriad yn amrhisiadwy. Y cyn-lowr sy’n heneiddio a’n ceisio dygymod â’i ddiweithdra, ei gwm a’i deulu yn cael eu rhwygo’n ddarnau…a’r cyn-baffiwr yn gorfod dod i delerau â’r ffaith nad oes unrhywun na unrhywbeth i’w ddyrnau frwydro er mwyn ennill unrhywfath o hunanbarch bellach. Pegynnau dirdynnol llawn emosiwn wedi’u hysgrifennu mor grefftus. Heb y math yma o ysgrifennu dwi’n ffindio hi’n wir anodd i wneud cyfiawnder o bortreadu a rhannu teimladau a neges cymeriad gyda’m cynulleidfa. I mi mae’r geiriau’n hanfodol. Diolch amdanyn nhw Siôn.
Wnai byth anghofio Siôn a mi yn mynd i lawr i Lundain yn dilyn arholiadau lefel O. Siôn oedd yn arwain ac wedi trefnu’r itinirary llawn o ffilmiau a dramau. Dwi’n cofio gweld Woodstock, The Pride of Miss Jean Brody, Women in Love ynghyd â llu o sioeau eraill. Siôn a drefnodd pob dim ond wedi gweld 3 ffilm/sioe mewn diwrnod roedd mynd i weld Abelard A Heloise yn un sioe yn ormod imi, er bod gweld Dianna Rigg yn noeth ar y llwyfan yn temptio… aeth Siôn ar ei ben ei hun.
Selwyn Jones (Palas Print)
Pan dda’th yr alwad i fod yn rhan o gast arbennig Yfory – drama wleidyddol amserol Siôn dan ofal a chyfarwyddyd meddylgar Betsan – dodd dim amheueth mai ie fyddai’r ateb. Cefndir y ddrama yw’r cyfnod helbulus pan trodd consensws y byd gwleidyddol ar ‘i phen gyda Brexit ac ethol Trump yn America. Fel fydde’r Cynulliad yn ymateb i effeithie’r daeargryn ysgytwol ‘ma? Gyda’i ddeallusrwydd
a’i wybodeth ‘encyclopedic’ o hanes cymhleth gwleidyddiaeth Cymru, rodd y cynhyrchiad mewn dwylo saff.
Fel actorion – cawsom y cyfle amhrisiadwy o gyd-ddarllen y ddrama
yng nghartre’ Siôn a dechre dod i ddeall beth odd taith y cymeriade’. Mawr odd yn edmygedd fel y fydde fe’n gweu a phlethu ieithwedd byd y Senedd i fod yn rhan o batrwm rhwydd y deialog.
Ar un lefel, portread o wleidyddiaeth egwyddorol delfrydol ydy Yfory a’r gwrthdaro a ddaw gyda realiti ‘trade off’ pragmataidd synicaidd y gwleidydd sydd yn arbed ei yrfa ac yn cadw ar ben yr ysgol ar draul popeth. Ar ôl blynyddoedd o bolisie tebyg yn Ngherdydd a Llunden – mae Siôn yn ein harwain i’r casgliad anorfod taw pris hyn i gyd fydde Brexit, Trump, Erdogan a Victor Orban yn Hungary. Gwefreiddiol oedd dod â’r ddrama i lwyfanne’ ar draws Cymru, a chynnal trafodeth gyda rhai o’r gynulleidfa ar ôl y perfformiad, a gwrando ar Siôn yn ymateb i gwestiyne yn ymwneud â’r ddrama a dyfodol Cymru tu fas i Ewrop a thu hwnt.
Pwy a ŵyr? – ymhen amser mi fydde fe wedi ‘sgrifennu drama sy’n
delio gyda effeth Covid19 ar Gymru a’r cwestiyne dyrys am hil ac hanes amheus Prydeinig sydd wedi dod i’r wyneb ‘to. Braint oedd cyd-weithio gyda’r athrylith tawel, hynod deallus hwn, a chydymdeimlaf gydag Erica ei wraig a Guto’i frawd ar eu colled.
Dewi Rhys Williams.
Mae colli Siôn yn dristwch mawr i ni gyd. Roedd yn ffrind annwyl personol ac yn wir ffrind i’r theatr yng Nghymru.
Wyn a Gwen
ecause of the pandemic we’ve obviously had to reform our plans for the coming year. We can’t return to the proper rehearsal room at present never mind think of touring, but we haven’t been resting on our laurels either:
- We’ve presented a successful on-line version of Gair o Gariad with Carwyn Jones and Lleuwen Steffan.
- Through our Llwyfan Dros Dro scheme we’ve managed to offer employment to many freelancers.
- Cwmni 303 and the director Iwan John have been busy developing the script for our next Club Show, Dawel Nos, and though it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll be able to tour it this Christmas we’re aiming to host a public read-through via Zoom – further details to follow.
- We’ve started work on a new show, co-created by the cast and the dramatist, Mared Llewelyn.
- The Hen Bostar Bob Dydd and Trac Bob Hyn a Hyn schemes have generated a great deal of interest and sparked many fond memories.
- We’ve just / on the verge of asking for Expressions of Interest for shows for 1 – 2 persons – the dramatists will be supported through our First Draft Scheme.
Un Nos Ola Leuad
To mark 60 years since the publication of this iconic novel we will be re-staging our adapation during the Spring. This version is currently on the WJEC curriculum.
Touring: 1 February – 27 March 2021
Hwyl yn y Gymuned
A new show which will tour to community venues throughout Wales. The creative team will co-devise the piece which will be light-hearted, satirical and musical.
Practitioners include : Mared Llywelyn, Carys Gwilym, Iwan Charles, Emyr ‘Himyrs’ Roberts …
Touring: 1 – 26 June 2021
Byd Dan Eira by Siôn Eirian
A play about generations of feminists, told from a personal perspective, to mark 40 years since the the Welsh group Women for Life on Earth established the Greenham Common Peace Camp.
Touring: 9 November – 4 December 2021
Bara Caws are proud to announce some exciting news. We aim to pack up shop and re-locate to new premises right in the heart of the village of Penygroes, near Caernarfon.
The Company’s first home was little more than a hut in the Bangor Normal College in 1976, then in 1994 we moved to a unit on Cibyn Industrial Estate, Caernarfon. By today the building is not fit for purpose, and if we hope to realise our ambitions for the future we must secure a new workplace. Now we are thrilled to announce that we have found our ideal location, the old Victoria Pub in Penygroes.
This is a golden opportunity for us to embed ourselves right in the heart of a thoroughly Welsh speaking village, and we look forward to exploring what we will be able to contribute to this unique community.
“Dyffryn Nantlle 2020 have been working with the community and its young people since 2012 to promote the arts,” said Ben Gregory, Executive Officer of Cynefin Grŵp Gwynedd. “If Theatr Bara Caws move to Penygroes it will be extremely exciting for the village.”
Betsan Llwyd, Artistic Director of Theatr Bara Caws said, “A new workplace will enable us to extend our present provision, to become more community-orientated in our approach, and will offer a space for people of all ages to come together to share theatrical experiences”.
We are very grateful to Arts Council Wales for pledging 70% of the cost of buying the building, and now we need to raise the extra 30%.
So, today, March lst 2019, we are launching a special appeal, and are asking our audiences throughout Wales to play a part in this exciting venture. We aim to raise £30,000 over an 8 week period, and ask you kindly to contribute whatever you can afford to the cause. This will secure the vital and unique service Bara Caws have been offering throughout Wales for over 40 years.
We very much hope that all of our friends will help us reach our target so that we can establish a secure and prosperous future for the Company.
Go to – Appeal Page: New home for Bara Caws – https:/localgiving.org/Cartref, or for further information contact Mari on 01286 675 869/mari@theatrbaracaws or Linda on 01286 676335/ linda@theatrbaracaws. There will also be a special contribution box in each of our venues on our next tour, Costa Byw (March 26-April 13) for donations in cheques or cash.
COSTA BYW by Mari Elen Jones, Mared Llywelyn Williams, Llyr Titus.
Bara Caws, in association with Cwmni Tebot, present a review: Costa Byw (Costa Living) – what will Gwynedd be like in years to come? We’ll touch on some current problems – immigration, lack of jobs, house prices,
politicians, climate change, shrinking cream eggs – all this and more.
Join us to see what the ‘costa living’ will be!
Cast: Iwan Charles, Llyr Edwards
Director: Betsan Llwyd
LLEU LLAW GYFFES by Aled Jones Williams
20 years ago Aled Jones Williams, one of Wales’ most influential playwrights — who also happens to be one of our greatest fans — gave us Sundance, and we are thrilled to be presenting a new piece by him in October/November 2019. Undoubtedly, this iconoclastic play about the loss of faith, the destruction of myths and human tenderness is hard-hitting and challenging, but also exciting, fascinating and thought-provoking.
Director: Betsan Llwyd
Trefor was a stalwart of the Welsh theatre scene, and supportive of Bara Caws since its inception. He was a consumate performer and created a myriad of memorable performances on stage and screen.
Our paths first crossed when he bounded in to the hall at Maes Garmon School in Mold as a temporary Drama Teacher, wearing a white suit! Years later I had the privilege of sharing a stage with him on many occasions, some of which will stay with me forever…his portrayal of Gwydion in Blodeuwedd by Theatrig, his cold-blooded stare in complete contrast to his seemingly suave, sophisticated exterior, and Peter Stein – the world-famous director inviting him to join his company in Berlin…and in Cwmni Theatr Cymru’s production of Tair Chwaer (Three Sisters) when his character had to give me a birthday present and on the last night announced, “Irina, Protopopov has just sent you a birthday pheasant,” and I thought it strange that he’d mispronounced his line, as he was always word perfect, ‘till I saw that he was indeed holding an actual dead pheasant in his hand — the picture totally in keeping with the piece of course, and the audience oblivious of the joke!
He came to work with Bara Caws on several occasions over the years in a range of productions including Gweledigaethau (once again in a white suit!), Diana, Henwalia and the club show Yr Alamo. The last time we saw him was at the Anglesey National Eisteddfod last year, and though he was obviously unwell he joined us to celebrate the Company’s fortieth anniversary, loyal and supportive to the end. Thank you Trefor.
“How does one describe Meic? A talent, a great listener, a people-watcher… An enthusiastic supporter of Bara Caws since its inception, and his legacy to the theatre, television and film in Wales, priceless. I’ve worked with him as a co-actor, portrayed some of his most memorable characters, and most recently had the pleasure of embarking upon a new relationship with him as a director of his work. His self-discipline, his acumen, his curiosity, his interest in his characters, and in ‘putting the world to rights’, both seriously and provocatively, was second to none. Earlier this year he’d sent his latest play to Bara Caws, and we were in the process of arranging to meet to discuss the work further when he became seriously ill. A couple of days after he passed away I received a card from him, via his daughter Catrin, which challenged me, in his own inimitable way, to get to grips with the script asap – and as Catrin said – “Who are we to ignore that?… So, it will be a privilege to stage Dwyn i Gof next year. I’ll miss the discussions, the arguments, the challenges along the way, but am ever grateful – once again – for the privilege.”
Twenty years were to fly by between sharing a laugh with Mordecai on the set of Y Dyn na’th ddwyn y Nadolig, and sitting in the Prince of Wales, Cricieth in 2004 discussing a club show that Meic was keen to write for Bara Caws. His subject wasn’t to be the jug eared Windsor, but the imagined unsavoury trials and tribulations of another prince, Owain Min Dŵr, one of our national heroes. Before my time with Bara Caws, Meic had written a number of important plays for the Company, but he was now eager to venture into the murky waters of our infamous Club Shows. Like Mordecai, Meic knew exactly what he wanted, and what he wanted was swearing – a lot of swearing. Six months later the character Crach Ffinant was to open the show with the line:
“Dw i’n gwbod be’ ‘dach chi’n feddwl..! Sioe glybia’ arall yn llawn o jôcs gwael a rhegfeydd aflan, yn sôn am ddim ond am wastraff naturiol a dirgelwch merchaid! Wel – dim ff** o beryg ylwch!”/“I know what you think..! Another club show full of bad jokes and expletives, nothing but bodily functions and the mysteries pertaining to women! Well, no f***ing way!”
During the six months leading up to that ’memorable’ opening line, we’d had hours of fun, and Meic had proved that contrary to my initial impression, swearing wasn’t what it was all about for Meic. The effing and blinding were just another weapon in his armoury, the camouflage drawn over a gimlet iconoclasm and a burning patriotism, a front for his love of dialogue and characterisation. Behind the crude ribaldry there was thought, meaning and care. As in the work, so in the man; behind the brash confidence and the contagious laughter there was a seriousness and a constant moral compass, along with the courage to express it. His contribution to the world of drama in Wales is immeasureable, and our debt to him as a company, enormous. I’m glad to have known him, and if asked will I ever forget the privilege of working alongside Meic? Well, – no f***ing way!”
“At the turn of the century we were both under siege, more or less, for some weeks in a room in Chapter, Cardiff, trying to write a television series. That’s when I came to know him well, which wasn’t difficult as we had a few things in common, both coming from a fairly poor, rural background, and both having left school at fifteen.
Though the circumstances were challenging and the work load heavy, it was a pleasure and a privilege to work with him. He was always in the best of spirits, never moody, and we never had a cross word during all that time. What I enjoyed most of all was listening to his stories and watching him ‘strutting his stuff’. There was a small round window in the door, and every now and again he would jump up from his chair, stride to the door, put his nose on the glass and shout: “They’re all c###s out there!”, as loudly as he could. I’ve no idea what sparked it, but it was a particularly fine performance. To me, he was the Welsh William Goldman. He’d secured a bottomless pit of stories and scandals from his long and diverse career in film, theatre and television – all of which were worth hearing! I remember telling him once to write them down for posterity, I don’t know whether he did or not.
I will remember him as a man who was always willing to help, and as a witty raconteur who was taken by the Boatman on my birthday.”
“The first Christmas card on the mat each year included one name and one capital letter…’Povey, X.’ And every year his handwriting made me smile, making me feel warm inside as I remembered the happy times we spent together. He always laughed so incredibly loudly, especially at his own jokes! I remember Maldwyn and I backstage, ready to go on to perform ‘Wal’ [Aled Jones Williams] in Llanofer Hall years ago, with only two or three in the audience, and hearing Povey’s voice as he walked in to the empty hall, shouting at Ber or Ems in the back – “Not taking anyone’s seat am I?!”, before his laugh reverberated around the room.
People were Povey’s ‘thing’. He was just like you and me, (Yn Debyg Iawn i Ti a Fi), and that’s why his characters behaved and sounded so credible on the page – but, because of his talent and his incredible self-discipline, he was different to us all. According to Meic, an author should be measured according to his or her ‘body of work,’ and hardly anyone can measure up to the number, or influence, of Povey’s masterpieces over the last forty years. What did I learn from him? That hard work could be great fun. As a public figure, and in the wake of the inheritance he has left us as a writer, Wales has lost a giant. The family’s loss, of course, will be much more painful. We send them all the condolences and warmest regards in the world. Thanks for sharing some of the energy and fire. A friend and hero in one!
From now on, ‘Povey. X’ will be in my heart, and not on the mat. Thanks mate. Merf. X.”
Merfyn Pierce Jones
It’s difficult to believe that we’ll never see Meic again – so unfair that he’s left us so soon. He was such a dear, kind friend and full of fun – I see his mischievous smile when I think of him. He was one of Wales’ best dramatist and very self-disciplined. I will always remember the film he wrote some years ago – ‘Nel’ with Beryl Williams in the main rôle, and his play – ‘Diwedd y Byd’ – was, in my opinion, a masterpiece. His contribution to theatre and television has been priceless. Sleep quietly Meic – you were special. Deepest sympathy to the whole family.
It’s fairly safe to assume that without Iola Theatr Bara Caws would not exist, and without Bara Caws the theatrical landscape in Wales would be quite different.
Some of the present members of the Company worked alongside her for years on memorable productions such as Bargen and Bynsan Binc, but as for me, I first saw the original Bara Caws performing a show called Hwyliau’n Codi when I was in a young student in Aberystwyth University at the tail end of the ‘70s. My eyes were opened to the truly exciting possibilities of Welsh language theatre, with Iola’s performance leaving an indelible impression on me.
She has supported the Company’s work over the years, our hearts always beating faster whenever she was in the audience – an astute, honest, objective and intelligent critic. The last time I had a conversation with her was in Pontio earlier this year, keen to know what our plans and ambitions were for the future, and the ‘why’ and ‘how’ central to her thinking about the theatre in Wales.
We are forever indebted for your vision, inspiration and support – thank you.
Iola was a rebel. A woman who ‘cared’ a great deal, especially about the Welsh language, about theatre and politics, and with her sharp mind and unique sense of humour was in her element stimulating all kinds of discussions.
She went to jail for her second language about which she was passionate, and was one of the founder members of the pioneering Bara Caws theatre company with its aim of changing things in Wales. They offered an exciting programme of work which challenged the status quo, ensuring that Welsh theatre became more relevant to the lives of the people of Gwynedd and beyond, and central to all this was Iola’s unforgettable performances and her ingenuity as an author and director. She was in her element discussing ideas, and always had something unexpected to throw into the arena in order to challenge and create dialogue which could escalate at times to a fierce debate, but always with a positive and engaging energy. With her analytical, keen mind she always questioned everything to try to understand the weird complexities of the world we live in, so that she could identify with and support people who held such differing views. Thank you for being a friend who was second to none, an inspiration and great fun – it’s been a privilege! The world nor Wales will ever be the same without a rebel which enriched so many lives. Thanks Iola.
I first saw Iola when I was a student at Aberystwyth in the late sixties. She was standing there outside Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s annual conference in Neuadd Talybont, distributing pamphlets, in a white T-shirt emblazoned with the dragon’s red tongue. She was confident, defiant…and beautiful! A girl with fire in her soul – like her mother, the militant Welsh language activist, Mrs. Millicent Gregory.
Some years later, when she’d already embarked on her career as an actor, I came across her in the North – and I don’t mean North Wales. Val and Sharon, Gwyn Parry, Grey and I were devising a new piece for Theatr Antur, a special project for actors within Cwmni Theatr Cymru, the only professional Welsh language theatre company in those days. At the same time another show, IFAS Y TRYC with Stewart Jones, was being produced by the Cwmni, and in that particular production, who happened to be cast as a sexy artist type but Iola! I remember both productions rehearsing at the same time in York of all places – because yet another production by Cwmni Theatr, UNDER MILK WOOD, was being presented in the Yorkshire Playhouse, and as some of the actors were taking part in more than one production, we all stayed at the same hotel in the old historical North. It was as if the Welsh theatre, in its entirety, had moved to York! We had a great time…
Iola soon found herself an integral part of the North Wales theatre scene, especially, with the same Theatr Antur, under the wing of Cwmni Theatr Cymru, in CYMERWCH BWYTEWCH. This is significant as it was from among the personalities of this particular group of actors that the idea of Theatr Bara Caws was born. So in 1977 Iola, Val, Sharon, Catrin and I met to discuss the possibility of establishing an independent community theatre company which would challenge the theatrical establishment – which really needed challenging. On the whole the plays being produced were safe and stale, irrelevant to a large part of the audience. Of course, it was one thing to argue and make big plans in Bangor’s Globe Inn on a Friday night, doing something about it was quite another. But, damn it all, we’d promised Wil Morgan a show in Theatr Clwyd during the Eisteddfod in Wrecsam, and now we had to write the bloody thing…
And so, our small gang – which soon grew in number as Mari Gwilym, Dyfed Tomos, Bethan Meils, Dafydd Pierce, and the late Stewart Jones joined us – met in the old St. Paul’s School, Bangor, drinking tea and looking desperately at each other for ideas. Of course, we had no doubt as to the subject of the piece. It screamed at us interminably every single day and night via the press and media – the Queen’s Jubilee. “ God Save the Queen”, sang the Sex Pistols. But in our Welsh punkish production, who was to play the crucial rôle of the Queen herself? All eyes turned to the most regal, most straight-backed and most aristocratic-looking of us all…Iola! In the Queen’s entrance scene, Dyfed, playing the outrageous multi-lingual mis-mutating Equerry, provided a huge build-up ending with, “Oh Yes, the The Queen’s coooooooommmmmiiiiing!”, on which cue Iola, with a plastic crown balanced on her head, stepped slowly and authoritatively on to the stage, gave the audience an extremely long and sour look, before sitting delicately on a white fur-covered toilet seat to the accompaniment of words nabbed from the Eisteddfodic bardic ceremony, “Eistedded y Cwîn yn hedd y Cantîn” (“May the Queen sit in the peace of the Canteen). The moment always brought the house down. Some still treasure it as if it were yesterday…
Iola proceeded to make a huge contribution to the early productions of Bara Caws. She had a particularly fine talent for creating strong, believable and entertaining characters on stage – from the Iron Witch (Bara Caws’ version of Mrs. Thatcher) to the Methodist woman whose faith was shaken during a storm on board ship in HWYLIAU’N CODI. In the same production, Iola’s range of acting was displayed admirably. While her caricature of Brittania was satirically arrogant, later in the show she gave a touching portrayal of an ordinary sailor’s wife, who, while receiving the tragic news of her husband’s death at sea, had to cope at the same time with her confused chatterbox of a mother. A heart-breaking, comic/tragic scene acted and written by our two main actresses, Iola and Val, in what was, in my opinion, one of early Bara Caws’s best productions.
And now that Iola – our queen and commoner, our passionate, intelligent, talented, entertaining and generous friend – now that she’s left us, through our tears, we celebrate and remember her invaluable legacy to the theatre and to Wales.
I had the privilege of acting alongside Iola on many occasions, on stage and on screen, and was always in awe of her exceptional talent. But what I will remember most about her is her lovely smile and her mischievous, infectious laugh.
Iola was one of the cornerstones of the Theatre in Wales. Her contribution towards establishing a strong foundation for the craft and growth of the Welsh theatre in the seventies was invaluable. She was Welsh to the very core of her being, and a spokesperson for justice and equality in areas and for causes of all kinds. She was an enthusiastic theatre-goer until the end, even when she wasn’t strong enough to tour herself. We all knew whether or not Iola was pleased, and whether or not we’d done a good job! Thanks for all your support Iola…’Good Night’.
Over forty years have passed since Iola and I spent an afternoon together one grey February day in the Ceffyl Du, Carmarthen. We’d had to cancel our evening’s performance due to the lack of an audience. But over a pint, Iola mentioned the exciting plans of a group of actors who wished to form a new, innovative and relevant theatre company… and to my great surprise asked me whether I’d like to be involved, “Of course Iola…” – and so the great Bara Caws adventure was born… as well as a wonderful friendship which was to last a lifetime. I’ll miss you.
Iola … she was a very special person, and every time I think of her I always see her mischievous smile. I have very fond memories of the time I came to know Iola, Val, Dyfan, Catrin, and Mei for the first time. I’d worked with them when I was with Cwmni Theatr Cymru before they established Bara Caws, and before I began working with the company in the eighties. It was always a pleasure talking to her, as well as great fun. I admired her strong views and opinions, and she would always make perfectly clear what was on her mind. We had a lot of fun when our children were younger, going on trips to the sea-side and so on – happy days. We were also more than welcome in Llandwrog at all times. She was an exceptionally talented person and I loved watching her on stage – she made a great impression on me in Merched yn Bennaf and O Syr Mynte Hi. It was also lovely to work with her years later when she returned to Bara Caws to direct Paris.
I’ll miss you Iola – thanks for the privilege of knowing you and to have such a great deal of fun in your company – sleep well. Our heartfelt condolences to Angharad and Rhian and their families.
Between 4th and 16th December 2017, Cwmni Theatr Bara Caws will be working on a R&D project on Angharad Tomos’ novel, Wrth fy Nagrau I. Continue Reading…
As Theatr Bara Caws is celebrating its fortieth birthday this year, this year’s final production, Dim Byd Ynni by Emlyn Gomer celebrates this special occasion with four performances in the Anglesey National Eisteddfod before touring Wales in September and October. Continue Reading…
Crowning Theatr Bara Caws’ birthday celebrations is the Birthday Party in the Anglesey National Eisteddfod. 40 years ago a small gang of enthusiastic practitioners set out to give the Welsh language theatre scene a good shake-up, and Theatr Bara Caws was born. To mark this special anniversary, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch are publishing a coffee-table book collated from the Company’s archive and following extensive interviews with the hundreds of actors, writers and technicians who have worked with us over the years. We will be launching the book at the National Eisteddfod in Anglesey this August, so come join us to mark this very special occasion! Continue Reading…