'Lulled and dumbfound': lockdown version of Under Milk Wood released

Key workers and youth theatre create strikingly apposite film of Dylan Thomas’s work about hushed Welsh village

Key workers including NHS staff, teachers and a vicar have joined stars of film, stage and television to produce a lockdown version of Dylan Thomas’s beloved play for voices, Under Milk Wood.

The cast, graduates of a youth theatre based in and around Thomas’s city of birth, Swansea, filmed themselves reciting a line or just a few words of the play’s first section, the haunting introduction to a sleeping Welsh fishing village.

Their contributions were edited together and the eight-minute piece released on the West Glamorgan Youth Theatre Company’s (WGYTC) YouTube channel to rave reviews.

Famous names such as the Hollywood actor Michael Sheen, the Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies and the comedian Lloyd Langford also feature. But just as important are the key workers: the doctors, the dentists, a radiographer, whose contributions may not be quite as polished as the professionals but are all the more poignant for that.

And Thomas’s 1954 play turns out to be apposite for these troubled times. Some of the lines could have been written for lockdown Britain: “You can hear the dew falling, and the hushed town breathing … Time passes. Listen. Time passes.” The fictional village of Llareggub is, like many of the world’s towns and cities, “lulled and dumbfound”.

Nick Evans, a West End theatre director who began his career at the WGYTC, said the idea was to celebrate the many and varied careers that the theatre company’s alumni have gone on to pursue.

“WGYTC is now in its fifth decade and alumni from across the world keep in touch and support the company which had such a profound effect on them during their teenage years. All of them hope this video will remind people exactly why the arts are so vital in these difficult times.

“The notion of a town that is ‘hushed’ and ‘dumbfound’ echoes with how many of us feel in this current situation.”

The piece features 65 performers. Some recited their lines from bedrooms, living rooms or kitchens; others used their gardens as a backdrop. In some cases, family members were roped in to help. The sound quality is uneven but the imperfections only add to the charm.

Founded in 1975, WGYTC works with young people aged 11 to 21 in the Swansea and Neath Port Talbot areas.

Vivienne Buckley, a member of the company’s artistic directorate and deputy principal at Bridgend College, said WGYTC was delighted with the film and the response.

She said: “The company and its alumni are living proof that a foundation in the arts not only helps create the country’s leading actors, writers and directors but also the best doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professions which play such a vital role in our society at this time.”


Steven Morris

The GuardianTramp

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