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National Theatre Wales announces Mametz

WWI is commemorated in a performance inspired by Welsh and English poetry.


National Theatre Wales will stage a site-specific production in field and nearby forest near Usk, as part of the World War I commemorations in June. Mametz will give audiences a vivid glimpse into life – and death – in the trenches and battlefields of the Somme.

Inspired by Welsh writer Owen Sheers’ poem Mametz Wood, it will draw on written material by some of the poets who fought in or witnessed one of the bloodiest conflicts of the Somme – The Battle of Mametz Wood, in which 4,000 of the 38th (Welsh) Division were killed or wounded. Among the soldiers who took part were several key Welsh and English war poets, including Robert Graves, David Jones, Siegfried Sassoon and Llewelyn Wyn Griffith, and Sheers’ own great, great uncle, William Cross.

Writer Owen Sheers is a Welsh poet, author and scriptwriter. He has published two poetry collections, The Blue Book and Skirrid Hill, which won a Somerset Maugham Award. His debut prose work The Dust Diaries, a non-fiction narrative set in Zimbabwe, won the Welsh Book of the Year 2005. Owen’s first novel, Resistance, has been translated into 10 languages. Owen recently adapted it to a screenplay of the same name which starred Andrea Riseborough and Michael Sheen. In 2009, he published the novella White Ravens. His latest book Pink Mist (poetry based on stories from Iraq War) was released in June 2013 by Faber. In 2009, he wrote and presented A Poet’s Guide to Britain, a six-part series for BBCFour about poetry and landscape. The accompanying anthology is published by Penguin. His professional positions have included being Writer in Residence at The Wordsworth Trust and a 2007/8 Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library. He was also Writer In Residence for the Welsh Rugby Team at Millennium Stadium for 2012. In Easter 2011, Owen wrote the script and novelisation (The Gospel of Us) for The Passion, National Theatre Wales and WildWorks’ production in Port Talbot starring and directed by Michael Sheen, and co-directed by Bill Mitchell.

Director Matthew Dunster has directed, written and acted for many theatres in the UK and internationally; twice being nominated for an Olivier award. Recent work includes directing: Before the Party (Almeida Theatre), The Love-Girl And The Innocent (Southwark Playhouse), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Open Air Theatre, Regents Park), Mogadishu (Royal Exchange, Manchester and Lyric Hammersmith) and Love the Sinner (National Theatre). He is currently under commission to The Royal Exchange in Manchester and The Sheffield Crucible. He is developing a dance work for Headspace Dance and The Royal Opera House and is writing his first feature film.

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