Gwenlyn Parry oedd un o ddramodwyr Cymraeg pennaf yr ugeinfed ganrif. Chwaraeodd ran allweddol ym mhoblogeiddio drama ar lwyfan ac ar deledu yn ystod yr 1970au a'r 1980au, a chafodd ei brif ddramâu llwyfan - Saer Doliau, Tŷ ar y Tywod, Y Ffin a Y Tŵr - ddylanwad sylweddol.
Gwenlyn Parry was one of the most important Welsh-language playwrights of the twentieth century and played a key role in the popularisation and flourishing of drama in the theatre and on television during the 1970s and 1980s. Parry's major stage plays - Saer Doliau, Tŷ ar y Tywod, Y Ffin and Y Tŵr - had a substantial impact.
One might easily ask what is the point of writing in English about a writer whose medium was Welsh. Yet Wales has two languages, English and Welsh, and the Writers of Wales series takes full cognizance of that fact. Obviously when a critic discusses the work of a writer whose work has not yet been translated into English, the approach will be different from that of a critic discussing work which is easily available in English. Roger Owen, the present author, combines the sophistication of an academic critic with the need to explain certain things to a non-Welsh-speaking audience which does not have access to the works discussed.
Being a lecturer in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at Aberystwyth University, Owen has a broad-based background to place Gwenlyn Parry on a European and world stage and, as Welsh is his first language, he is thoroughly conversant with Parry’s life and work in a Welsh context.
I agree with Dr Harri Pritchard Jones’s words in his blurb to this volume, in which he says that ‘Roger Owen delves behind Gwenlyn’s artistic persona with psychological insights that owe much to the French analyst Jacques Lacan’, yet despite the perceptiveness of his analysis of Parry’s psychological make-up (he was once dubbed a ‘literary schizophrenic’), in the last analysis ‘the study concentrates on the theatre that Gwenlyn created rather than on its creator, and the balance works well in this stimulating book’.
Gwenlyn Parry was labelled the first ‘absurdist dramatist’ in the Welsh language and, in an early article in Y Traethodydd in 1968, I ‘harshly expressed’ (Owen’s words in this volume) the view that Saer Doliau was ‘a masquerade of Absurd drama’. In a small cultural context such as that of Welsh-language writing, people form cabals and Gwenlyn had his ‘followers’ (even ‘worshippers’), of which I was not one, and this enabled me to express my mind without fear of ostracisation. One mellows with old age, and I can now see that Gwenlyn Parry was not an Absurd dramatist by any means, although I still hold the view that his initial works were a mish-mash of influences, half-baked, and not fully digested. However, I regard Y Tŵr as an unmitigated success. Roger Owen is right in introducing this volume with it, and in giving it a full chapter in chronological order later in the volume.
This book is a great success in introducing Gwenlyn Parry to a new audience: an audience which is not conversant with the original plays. One can only regret that it was not available in Welsh first, as there is only one full critical examination of Parry’s work available in that language, Dewi Z. Phillips’s Gwenlyn Parry. Roger Owen’s is the most sophisticated critical guide to Gwenlyn Parry’s work in any language, and it should be read by anyone – whether familiar with his work or not.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
1. ‘Llanbabo it is to us and Llanbabo it will remain’: Early Life
2. ‘God help me, I cannot escape from this’: Three Short Plays
3. ‘A kind of self-therapy’: Saer Doliau
4. ‘A revolution ...where one man takes over the empire of the other’: Tŷ ar y Tywod
5. ‘A Welsh Tom and Jerry’: Fo a Fe and Y Ffin
6. ‘In the middle of the seventies experience’: Pobol y Cwm and Grand Slam
7. ‘They will also argue and fight and talk about their fear of death etc.’: Y Tŵr
8. ‘You know who’s in the balance?: Sal
9. ‘Any bloody fool can play dame’: Panto
10. ‘Everything will be fine now, you’ll see’: Later Life
Roger Owen is a Lecturer at the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies, Aberystwyth University.
This study is the first extended treatment of Gwenlyn Parry’s life and work in English, and examines the complex and occasionally paradoxical relationship between the autobiographical aspects of his writing and his use of theatrical form. His plays were instrumental in solidifying a new relationship between drama and theatrical production in Welsh, bringing the theatricality of the Absurd to a popular audience for the first time. His plays have been the subject of much critical attention in Welsh, and have been reinterpreted in production on many occasions, both in their original form and in translation.