Under Milk Wood performed in Guilford 10/25
In a rare appearance before an audience, the Packer Corners Players from that Guilford neighborhood will give a reading of Under Milk Wood, the Play for Voices by Dylan Thomas. Presented by Broad Brook Grange in Guilford on Saturday, October 25, at 7:30 p.m, the performance is the featured event in the town’s series commemorating the 100th birthday of the well-known Welsh poet just two days later.
No reservations for this performance are required. General Admission is $10, with seniors at $5.
This will be the first public performance by the Packer Corners Players. The ensemble gave a private reading of the work in 1968, and again in 1993. Three of the five original players are still in Guilford, and will be heard on Saturday: Don McLean, Verandah Porche and Richard Wizansky. Evelyn McLean returns from the 1993 reading, and for this occasion the group is joined by Todd Mandell. Prelude and interlude music will be performed by Peter Gould, concertina. Stage manager is Laura Lawson Tucker.
Dylan Thomas had a major impact, especially for a poet, on American audiences, due to his four tours beginning in 1950. He read at 40 colleges and universities, including Bennington, in Vermont, and, in fact, he died in New York City in 1953 at age 39. Americans particularly knew Thomas through his recorded readings of his work.
Thomas’s play, Under Milk Wood, was premiered in New York City in May, 1953, with the poet taking the part of First Narrator, and was again performed in October of that year, just weeks before the poet’s death.
The work, which he first conceived at age 17, is regarded as the author’s masterpiece. It depicts a single day in the life of an imaginary, small Welsh seacoast village, which is largely based upon two towns where Thomas lived, New Quay and Laugharne. Many of the often-eccentric characters have become as familiar in Welsh culture as real people, notably the blind, retired sea captain, Captain Cat. In fact, a statue of the character now graces the town square of Laugharne.
Other characters include: Organ Morgan, with his passion for Bach; Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard and her two husbands, Mr. Ogmore and Mr. Pritchard, both deceased. Lord Cut-Glass has 61 clocks in his kitchen, and Nogood Boyo is always, of course, up to no good. As the day progresses, we hear gossiping neighbors and schoolchildren at their games.
As memorable as the characters are, and as comic and poignant the portraits of their lives, the most remarkable thing about the play is the extraordinarily rich language. Thomas intended the pay to be heard, not acted, and thus he uses words, virtuosically, to draw us into the village and paint the lives of the characters.
This event is part of a three-part Guilford celebration of the Thomas centenary, which began with a talk and reading by Don McLean at the Guilford Free Library early in the month, and will conclude with his reading of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” on Friends of Music’s Christ Church Christmas program in December.
Saturday’s play will be given on the stage, which is on the second story of Broad Brook Grange. Patrons are reminded that this venue is upstairs, and as yet the building has no elevator. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the Grange’s Building Fund, which will someday help fund full accessibility for the 1896 building.