Monthly Archives: March 2013

Chronology

Laurence Allan – Writer

Excerpt from: The New Companion to the Literature of Wales – editor Meic Stephens

 ‘Born 1954 in Pontypridd, Mid Glamorgan. His passionate, humane and sometimes angry concern for the plight of ordinary people is evident in much of his writing. Above all he articulates feelings of disempowerment experienced by those who find themselves caught up in economic and political changes beyond their control. Although the world he presents is often bleak, his plays are also characterized by mordant black humour and an affectionate, sharp ear for the idiomatic English of South Wales.’ 

1985    ‘Over the Wall and Back Again’, Writer & Director Made in Wales,

1986    Duel at Twilight, Spectacle Theatre

1988    A Blow to Bute Street’, Sherman Theatre

1990    ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’, Made in Wales/Theatr Clwyd/Sherman

1991    The Valley of the Kings is a Community Play about Pontypridd

1994     ‘On the Road Again’, Hijinx Theatre, Wales & England Tour

1995    BBC 2 Wales TV He made his television debut with ‘Rainbow Chaser

1996     ‘Stairway to Heaven’, Hijinx Theatre, Wales & England Tour

 1997    ‘Dangerous Acquaintances’  Hijinx Theatre, Wales & England Tour

1997    ‘Cradle to the Grave’   Welsh College of Music and Drama.

1990    ‘There’s Only One Siswe Bansi’ 55’ BBC Radio 4. 

1995    ‘I Was a Teenage Playboy’  30’

1996    ‘Cries Across the Tracks’ 55’

1998                King of the Mountains’ 90’ screenplay BBC Wales commissioned/unproduced

1998 – 2001    Station Road’BBC Radio Wales Daily Soap scriptwriting (over 50 episodes) & storylining

2000                Publication of anthology of Three Plays by Seren

                   On the Road Again

                   The Best Years of Our Lives

                        Cradle to the Grave

2000                The Mountain – BBC 2 Xcel – Documentary subject – L’Etape du Tour 

2001                Down the Docks and Up the Bay’BBC Radio Wales  30’

2002                Angels Don’t Need Wings’ Hijinx Theatre 21st Anniversary production

2002                ‘More than just a Game’ -  Plymouth Theatre Royal, 

2003                ‘Wouldn’t it be Better if he Died in the End?’ BBC Radio 4 60’

2004                ‘It was Twenty Years Ago Today’. BBC Radio Wales 60’

2004                ‘For Ever’ – Adaptation of Short Story – Plymouth Theatre Royal

2004                ‘Flowers from Tunisia’Theatr y Byd

2005                ‘If you can’t sing, stand at the back of the hall.’ - Plymouth Theatre Royal/York Theatre Royal & Unicorn Theatre, London

2005/6             ‘I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Shout’ winner of Writer’s Room Broken & Blue Award BBC Radio 3                                                                                                  

2006                ‘Truth or Dare’ celebrating Aberdare – BBC Radio Wales

 2007                ‘Reason to Believe’ – Sherman Cymru commission, in development

2007                ‘Dream it, Build it ‘– Valleys Kids and Arts & Business Cymru promo video

script   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUYqDXM7swA

2008                Operation Zulu/ Mzansi Cymru Project commission – Valleys Kids, Cultural Olympiad

2009                Stairway To Heaven On The Edge – tour.

2009               Gladiator – Spectacle Theatre /RCT Commssion – ongoing

2009                The Magic Box  Valleys Kids and Arts & Business Cymru promo video

script   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CcNqvHTu6Q

 2009                Operation ZuluMzansi Cymru showcase. Pop Factory, Porth

2010                The Day Stanley Baker Died The Zulus Rapped on Llanwonno Mountain(Writer & Director) Mzansi Cymru showcase, Soar Centre, Penygraig      

 2011                Life on Robben Island (Writer & Director) – Unusual Stage School, Disability Arts Cymru + Valleys Kids collaboration: Mzansi Cymru, Glanfa Stage, WMC

2011                Flowers from Tunisia, Torch Theatre + Wales Tour

2011                ‘Torchbearers’ Showcase, (Writer & Director)  Zip Zap Circus, Cape Town

2011/12           Schools & Community Writing Workshops – Mzansi Cymru Development

 2012                The Castle - Awen Project – Caerphilly CBC + Heolddu Comprehensive, Cauldrons & Furnaces, Cultural Olympiad

2012                ‘Torchbearers’ (Writer & Director)  Donald Gordon Theatre, WMC & Artscape Theatre, Cape Town, South Africa

A Blow To Bute Street

EVENING OF IRONY IN DOCKLAND

 Review by Penny Simpson

A Blow to Bute Street, currently showing at the Sherman Theatre, is very funny, very ironic and rooted in the public  arena with its backdrop the redevelopment of Cardiff’s dockland.

The play will probably become a talking point locally  for months to come – the least it deserves. The characterisations are superb, the plot carefully structured and the central arguments more than sound.

The central character in Laurence Allan’s outstanding new play for the Made In Wales Stage Company is Vic La Costa ( Tommy Eytle), an eighty year old saxophonist who for ten years has been confined to a Radyr nursing home.

He makes up his mind to return home to Bute Street, unaware of the fact that the place has been altered beyond recognition by town planners, among them his son-in-law Philip (Bill Bellamy).

Kim Kenny’s set uses a striking visual shorthand to show the docks area in its state of transition. A huge backdrop covered in graffiti is fronted by builders’ skips, bricks, rubble and pieces of scaffolding, a chaotic scene that reflects the confusion Vic feels on his return.

The contrast between Cardiff past and present is cleverly evoked by Allan in his dialogue – some times in word pictures that evoke a sense of loss, at other times in sharp one liners that have the audience laughing and applauding in recognition.

Tommy Eytle was a winner from his first entrance – doing press ups dressed in a pair of long johns. Vic was not a senile or pathetic old man in Eytle’s hands but a strong, vigorous character who radiates optimism in spite of the devastation he finds around him.

In the final scene he patiently sets out to rebuild his house from loose bricks lying on the stage – a powerful statement that is lost on Philip who wants him to return to the sanitised nursing home.

It was a spirit caught by the other docks residents who also make a dignified stand against what is being imposed in them.

Mal Henson, Terry Jackson, Myfanwy Talog and Clive Roberts gave marvellously energetic performances in these many roles.

 

 

Angels Don’t Need Wings

venue  Sherman Theatre, Cardiff June 27, 2002

Families, South Walian rivalry, popular music and the ghosts of the past are usually to be found in Laurence Allan’s plays and his latest, specially written to celebrate the 21st birthday of Hijinx Theatre, is no exception.

Here skeletons in the cupboard, secrets and lies and the opposing worlds of Cardiff and Merthyr (penned by a lad from Ponty, midway between the two industrial giants) are woven into a complex mystery as two girls with a 21st birthday find they both have a father called Benny. Add the Platters and Metallica. a dead brother, an alternative Benny and a whole ghost family and you have a heady mix of music, guilt, generational misunderstanding and a philosophical questioning of where we come from.

I’m not sure Chris Morgan and Gaynor Lougher (there are two directors and a 25-strong cast) quite cracked the problems involved in this overlong script. More importantly, I don’t feel they really managed to integrate the different elements, especially the contribution of Odyssey Theatre, Hijinx’s offshoot company made up partly of people with learning disabilities, which seemed too sidelined.

But when you have getting on for a dozen main characters the challenge is quite something. Given more rehearsal time and a longer run it could have worked, but as it was the Sherman audience loved it and there were some gems, like the sisters act from Christine Pritchard and Sharon Morgan, and a strong central role from the playwright himself as the guilt-ridden Benny. Hijinx favourites from over the years like Richard Berry, Erica Eirian, Helen Gwyn and Rhodri Hugh and relative newcomer Nathan Sussex were joined by young talents including an impressive Sian McDowall.

I suspect the nature of the event – a celebration of one of Wales’s longest-running and highly-regarded companies – overshadowed the production itself and the small space of the Sherman’s Venue Two was just too crowded to do justice to a thoughtful and multi-layered play. But, then, we wouldn’t be offering Hijinx 21st congratulations if they were a company that never took risks.

reviewer: David Adam

 

 

 

Published Plays

Three Plays by Laurence Allan front coverbook

On The Road Again

The Best Years of Our Lives

Cradle to the Grave

Published by Seren Books -  Edited by Brian Mitchell

On The Road Again

Two hapless buddies, Rich and Beefy, fight, swop stories, recall good times and bad, trade lies, insults and meagre possessions. Will their friendship survive a notice to evict them from the squalid Splott caravan they call home? This lively, funny short play is a Laurence Allan classic.

The Best Years of our Lives opens with the closure of the last coalmine in Wales. Ex-miner Neil thinks the future for him and his wife Glen lies in a new suburb, a new job and the spurious ‘Heritage Trail’ envisioned by neighbours, Rob and Fiona. Then Glen’s dad Clem goes on hunger strike. Glen starts turning Japanese and before you know it, a plot is hatched to kidnap the Secretary of State for Wales

Cradle to the Grave – commissioned to mark the 50th Anniversary of the National Health Service charts the painful misadventures of a private patient named Nye Bevan, mistakenly transferred to an NHS hospital that has just closed, where he encounters an enraged flower-seller, maladroit administrators, a drunken doctor and two salvage men wielding chainsaws. This play is a brilliant satire on the beleaguered state of the Health Service.

To get your own copy, email – larryallanjones@gmail.com

Doc Brown – Balls

Just to fill in some time, I’d been working on an idea for a film where I play an old, washed up boxer who ‘s planning a comeback. I’d managed to hustle a crew together and we were shooting some early scenes on Aberavon Beach, with some young black kid as an extra I felt sorry for. I take my customary three hour lunch break and when I come back, this kid has taken over and turned the whole shoot into a scuzzy rap video. Obviously I tell him to do one, call the whole thing off and cycle back to Ponty. I knew something was funny when he told me he was called Doc Green. Course it is, and my name is Dixon. Like an Egg production company have some explaining to do.

Lovectomy

This is a short film made by Newport students who went on to form the production company LIKE AN EGG headed by Keiran McGaughey.  I only play a small part and it’s here mainly because it includes performances by Dorien Thomas and Brian Hibbard who died far too young last year. I’ve worked with them both  a lot and they were both huge talents and their involvement in this low profile film demonstrates they were never beyond supporting the next generation of talent. I know Brian and Dorien would wish LIKE AN EGG all the success I know is coming their way.

Dream it – Build it

‘Dream it Build it’ was dreamt up by Valleys Kids as a way to acknowledge the generous support of Knox & Wells construction company who helped them to upgrade their Residential Centre on the Gower, whilst they were transforming Soar Centre in Penygraig. Valleys Kids demanded a poetic rap for the music video..so, of course, I sent them off to get a proper poet, alas they refused and this is the result.

 

Love Letters from Torchbearers

Gerwyn

Gerwyn

Torchbearers began with letters, written but never sent by the two protagonists: Gerwyn – an aspiring Welsh actor who lands a dream part in the iconic film Zulu (starring Stanley Baker and Michael Caine) and Thembesile – a young Zulu dancer who is also in the film. Both in their late teens, they meet on the film set in 1964, oblivious to the brutal laws of apartheid they fall in love, but are torn apart. The play follows their story over the next 40 odd years through their letters and their children and children’s children – “Fear will never keep us apart”

Dear Gerwyn,

It is now one year since I last saw you. It is our hot season so I think it must be very cold in your country. I know you don’t like the cold but I know how you didn’t like hot in your big clothes. I am back home now but all things are very different. They did not keep me long in the prison, only two weeks I think, they did not treat me bad but cold tea and mealie is not good every day. They would not let me go back to the camp but our friend Mandla, he tell me about the big trouble and how they send you home in aeroplane. I feel so bad I give you all this big trouble and know it is my fault. I am hoping the trouble ends now you are home and your family will be good to you but I do not know your country and your people.

Thembesile

Thembesile

The man I told you about who will change things, the man they call Madiba,  is in prison also. They say he will be in prison for very long time but I know one day he will be free and make things better and I will do what I have promised. I hope you remember what I have promised?

I also have to tell you that you are always close to me because I have to tell you that you now have a son. I cannot tell you that he looks like you because I know he does not but with his funny smile and thick black hair I know that he is our son. His name is  Zaziwe which means hope   and he is already singing just like you and it sounds just like the welsh songs you taught me. One day I will teach him the real words because they are still with me

I will finish writing now but I do not  know how to send it. I do not want to get you into more trouble. Perhaps I will keep it for the day when I can give it to you. I will not break my promise.

I am sending all my loving

Thembisile

————————

Dance for All Duet

Young Thembesile & young Gerwyn

Dear Thembisile,

I am sorry for waiting so long to write to you but I was so afraid of making things worse for you. Every minute I see them taking you away and wish it was me. I hope they treated you well but have a terrible feeling they didn’t. I can hardly bear to think about it. There are some terrible people in your country. While I was waiting to leave I asked one of those security people what would happen to you. He said they would sentence you to a month in prison. I could not believe it. I still can’t. What did we do wrong?

Things are not so good here at home. I think my career is finished and even some of my family don’t talk to me. It seems some people are just as bad in my country as they are in yours. I have now got a job in the mines, not mining diamonds though, just coal. I hate it. But I am still singing and have joined a choir. Perhaps one day I shall teach them the song you taught me. For now I sing it to myself.

They tell me I will never be able to return to your country for what I have done but I still don’t understand what I have done wrong. I don’t believe them and I know one day I will return to find you. Perhaps that man you told me about will change things soon. Perhaps I will write to him.

I don’t know how to send this letter to you as I only have the name of your village and you might not be there. Also I’m afraid of people opening it and getting you iinto bigger trouble. I am so sorry for all this and hope you can forgive me but I will make it right. One day I will make it all right. And don’t worry about your promise, I will not keep you to it. But I will never forget you and I will see you again. Somehow. Somewhere.

Your dearest love

Gerwyn

——————————————————-

Dear Gerwyn,

I cannot tell you what a terrible and happy day this is for me. Sometimes things get better but mostly things get worse. But I do not know if my country can do any more worse things. Now they have started killing our children. Our son Ziziwe is twelve now and is a good boy and goes to school. He went to school five days ago and stayed away for five days. He likes school and loves to learn but this day the students did not go to school. They did not like the way they were being taught in a language they didn’t understand so went on a big march so people would know what they felt. They were only children. And they were only marching. The policemen fired their guns at them. Fired their guns and killed them. Many children. I do not know how many but some people say hundreds. Parents and brothers and sisters carried the children home in their arms even though they knew they were dead. Ziziwe did not come home and I could not find him. Not until today, when he walks into my kitchen. But he is not like my Ziziwe, he is not smiling and singing he is frightened and angry. He was frightened to come home in case they came looking for him and did something to me as well. I give him such a big hug but he does not hug me like he used to. Not like  the little baby he is. Not like the child he is. They have taken something out of him and put something else there. I don’t know if it’s good or bad.

Do they tell you these things in your country? I hope so. The man they call Madiba is still in prison. I don’t think they will ever let him out. I think about you every day and tell Ziziwe all bout his welsh father. Remember what I have promised.

All my dearest loving

Thembisile.

——————–

Dear Thembisile,

Today is my birthday. It would be so good to receive a card from you but I don’t think I told you when it was so how could you. And where would you send it. I am spending the day by myself as my son and daughters are with their mothers. Yes I have been married twice but things don’t seem to work out for me. I think I am always looking for someone like you or perhaps I am just looking for you.

I am still in Wales and still working in the mines but things don’t look very good. Mines are closing and there is talk of a big strike and I fear that will make things worse. Sometimes I think of packing it all in and leaving and coming to look for you. I know I can’t and I imagine unlike me you are now happily married and have forgotten all about me.

The choir I have joined  are next year going on a trip to your country I cannot believe it and I also cannot believe I still cannot go. After all this time. My son, who thinks a lot says I should not go anyway and support the boycott. My head says he’s right but my heart longs for one chance to see you again. Just to see you and talk to you. After all these years I still miss you and think about you every day.

I see they man you call Madiba is still in prison. I think your country likes to imprison people for doing nothing wrong. I think it must be now nearly twenty years. Perhaps we were lucky. Perhaps when they release him we will be able  to be together. If just for  a moment. Just a moment.

Your dear Welsh friend

Gerwyn

Gerwyn & Thembesilef

The Magic Box

I was asked to write the script for a film about the magic of play. Hutchings HQ donated Valleys Kids a van to be used for outreach play and with the support from Arts & Business Cymru, Valleys Kids Friends and supporters grew the Magic Box. The inimitable Boyd Clack voiced it and played a cameo role… not typecast of course. Like an Egg did a fine job bringing it to life