Monday, February 13, 2012
I don't think I'd ever seen a play in Welsh before. Sgint, which was thankfully super-titled, is a verbatim piece based on interviews with people in Carmarthen about their lives since the financial crisis kicked in. Good to be reminded that there are places outside London, outside all sorts of mainstreams, that are really bearing the brunt of the current lunacy.
I went along to see it in Cardiff, because the producing company, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, is doing some amazing work in developing Welsh language theatre. I've thought for a while that Welsh and Scots Gaelic should be part of the Origins Festival - indigeneity close to home. Talking to Arwel and Elen, the directors, I sense a certain trepidation at the potential romanticism and exoticism of categorising the Celts alongside indigenous peoples from elsewhere. But there are very clear similarities of experience - the suppression of language and culture, the socio-economic marginalisation, the potential for new identities within both larger and smaller, more defined, political structures. It slowly turns into a worthwhile conversation - one we can develop as their new projects come along. At the moment, they are very focused on Elen's Welsh-language production of The Tempest for the 2012 Festival. We talk about my Indian Tempest and Toufann. Amazing how that play can resonate in so many contexts. But I do wonder how Elen will deal with the centrality of language to the piece, and the fact that the main language of the play is that of the coloniser, Prospero, and not the colonised Caliban. Will be fascinated to see!