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Dylan

    by Tony Layton



"I have your work imprinted on my mind"

Aeronwy Thomas (Dylan's daughter to Tony Layton, after seeing a performance)

Synopsis

This play is a result of Tony Layton's long association with the world of Dylan Thomas. Not only did Tony live around the corner from Dylan's house in Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea, but for many years he directed plays at Swansea Little Theatre which used to be Dylan's theatre group when he was a young man. Alun Gibbard, who has made a television film based on the life of Dylan, had written the lyrics to the music for "Dylan" and Tony was brought in to convert Alan's research into a theatrical delight.

The play takes the form of episodes from Dylan's life interspersed with musical interludes, both vocal and instrumental. The vocal items can either be sung by a live band or by a small vocal group to backing tracks, or the accompanying audio CD can be licensed for use at performances. The use of dance to interpret or represent various aspects of the story is part of the format of the play, and can be a significant part of the musical items or not, as required.

The play sets out to trace Dylan's life from his childhood in Swansea to his early death in New York. There is much contraversy surrounding the reasons for Dylan's death and the play examines the view that he did not die from alcoholic poisoning but in fact entered a diabetic coma which was not diagnosed by doctors at the time.

Anyone who has taken the time to research Dylan's life will know that he was a complex individual. He was a talented writer and broadcaster, always seemingly on the scrounge, a ready wit, a severe critic and someone who had a varied and colourful love life. His relationship with his wife, Caitlin, could be loving but could also be wild. Residents of Laugharne report seeing them fighting on the street after a night at Brown's pub.

Some say it was America that killed Dylan. There he was celebrated as a great writer and it was there that his most famous play for voices, "Under Milk Wood" was first performed. The lecture tour brought him some security and his status helped him to move in celebrity circles. There is something of a child in Dylan's nature, an inspired innocence that seems to be at odds with the wild party animal. A reading of "A Child'sChristmas In Wales" or "Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Dog" (a nudge at James Joyce) reflect keen observations of childhood and family life with which we can all identify.

The play has attempted to weave some of these strands together to try to give an honest account of what we know of Dylan's life. Dylan's daughter, Aeronwy, saw the play at its Swansea premier which took place at the Dylan Thomas Theatre. She was visibly moved by the experience and gave her seal of approval. When the play was performed in Swansea it was a multi-media production with a band, singers, dancers, troupe of actors and video back projection. However, it could be performed quite simply with actors and a solo singer.

This play with music is very adaptable and can be staged as a play with incidental music, or as a full-blown, multi-genre spectacular with actors, singers, dancers and musicians.


Characters

Principals (4m, 2f)
  Young Dylan - schoolboy
  Dylan - from age 19 to 39
  Hotel Porter - an elderly New Yorker
  Caitlin - Dylan's wife, from age 24 to 38
  Dan - a schoolboy friend of Young Dylan
  Liz Reitel - Dylan's American lover, early 30's
 
Supporting Cast
  Minimum 4m/3f (each male playing 5 or 6 small roles, each female playing 3 or 4 small roles)
  Gossips, partygoers, actors, children, etc (non-speaking)

Songs

  1) Death Shall Have No Dominion Vocal
  2) A Little Boy Vocal
  3) When I Grow Up Vocal
  4) Capital Letters Vocal
  5) When The River Meets The Sea Vocal
  6) The Vision And The Dream Vocal
  7) Dance Of Lost Youth Instrumental
~~ Interval ~~
  8) I Can See My Heaven Vocal
  9) The Nursery Crime Vocal
10) Soul Tired Vocal
11) Coma Instrumental
12) I See A Mouse Vocal


Left : Aeronwy Thomas and Tony Layton at a performance of 'Dylan'.

Right : Copy of a letter written to Tony by Aeronwy after the performance. (Click for large version)

Click to see full size copy of letter


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    A printed script provided as an A5 paperback acting edition. You are licensed to use this for your personal use. If you want to make multiple copies for use at rehearsals, a Script Copying Licence is required in addition...



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