The Bryn Terfel Theatre Opens with New Play CHWALFA

In September 2014, Chwalfa will be the first production to be staged at Theatr Bryn Terfel, Pontio, Bangor University's new Arts and Innovation Centre. The drama looks at the history of the Penrhyn Quarry's Great Strike, the longest running industrial dispute in UK history, which lasted for three years between 1900 and 1903. Chwalfa is an adaptation by Gareth Miles of T Rowland Hughes' popular novel. 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 as the stubborn and intransigent Industrialist owner of the mine refused to give in to the demands of his 2800 employees, as they struggled to gain better working conditions. Chwalfa (pronounced 'whall-va'), meaning 'dispersal' or 'upheaval', tells the story of a single family whose livelihood is threatened as the father leads the strike in what has become recognised as a defining moment in the history of socialism and the unions in the UK.

Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru launched the production with a concert at Jerusalem Chapel, Bethesda. The community of Dyffryn Ogwen came together to welcome Chwalfa to the area and to hear about opportunities to be a part of the show. Auditions were held in Bethesda and Bangor at the beginning of June and the local cast will begin rehearsals in Bethesda on the 15 July.

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. It was a pleasure to meet the community at the concert which launched Chwalfa, and thank you to everyone who came to the auditions too. 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. Chwalfa will be the first production on the stage of our new theatre. We will be unveiling an innovative piece of public art in the landscape of the new Centre - a 21st century interpretation of the quarryman's 'caban'. Folk band 9Bach will host a special musical night, 'Llechi', involving many of the area's foremost artists.

This of course reflects the University's history - of which Pontio is a part - one which was made possible in part by the pennies of those quarrymen. It's more than that too. It's an invitation for everyone, for children, families, students, audiences, older people - and those who have never set foot inside a theatre before to make Pontio their own."

For the first time the production, which is performed in Welsh, will offer audience members the opportunity to receive either audible or written English scene-by-scene summaries on their mobile phones, using a brand new app Sibrwd (whisper). The app will soon be available for downloading from the Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru website:

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