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                                                                                        2013 DTSA ACTIVITIES


                                                   A small group of DTSA members at the 60th anniversary wake for Dylan in Eden Gardens
 
Dylan Thomas died on 9 November 1953.  When the DTSA planned a sixtieth anniversary wake for November 2013 we tried to find a venue which had at least some tenuous link to Dylan's life or work, but without success.  Our best chance, we thought, would be one of the restaurants named The Boat House in the greater Sydney area, but all five of them proved unsuitable for our requirements and we eventually were forced to abandon the idea of a gathering of more than thirty people.  Belatedly, we were able to book one large table at the crowded cafe at Eden Gardens, North Ryde.   The link here came through the fact that the Garden of Eden was deeply embedded in Dylan's subconscious. The day before he died, he supposedly told Liz Reitell that he wanted to die and 'go to the Garden of Eden'.  He claimed to have had dreams of moving back in time through biblical scenes to the Garden of Eden.  The opera about the re-birth of the world after a nuclear holocaust which he planned to write with Igor Stravinsky was, he thought, a type of Garden of Eden story.
 
We planned to include a living link with Dylan as a special guest at the lunch:  Dylan's daughter-in-law Louise.  Louise and husband Colm attended a DTSA function at Olwen Morris's home in Newport back in the '90s, but we lost touch with them after that when they returned to Italy.  Colm died in Italy less than a year ago; Louise lives in Sydney and is happy to be back in touch with our society.  She told me that she remembers the evening at Newport well.  Louise is herself in poor health and unfortunately had to miss the lunch on doctor's orders, but she hopes to attend the Sydney Welsh Choir reception at the British Consul's house later this month at which there will be a significant group of DTSA members.

    

                                                                            DYLAN THOMAS IN THE WORLD OF FILM

 

On the unusually hot and windy afternoon of Saturday, 28 September, the DTSA put on a program on Dylan Thomas in the World of Film.  Clive

introduced the subject, gave out the information sheets, and showed his homemade compilation of snippets of Dylan's war films and cinema

treatment of some of his written work.  The DTSA always strives for authenticity; on this occasion we probably exceeded even the 2004 Dylan

Thomas Christmas in Burrawang which had real snow and snowmen to enrich our re-enactment of Dylan's snowy childhood. 

 

We were showing film sequences made of Britain at war in 1942.  The setting for our gathering was the Julian Ashton Art School, made available

 by our member and hospitable host Paul Delprat.  The hut was built for the army in 1942 - the exact year of most of the film clips. The film

 included shots of wartime Sydney.  Scenes of blackout in Britain were matched by our unusual blackout system in the room, which resulted in

 Emyr wearing a hard hat as though he were a member of the Home Guard or ARP.

 

 And then, the ultimate coincidence.  Just as the sound of bombs and air raid sirens had vanished from the screen and interval had been called,

 the hut fire alarm began its warning tones - and continued for half an hour, until the fire brigade arrived and turned it off. It was very authentic.

 We were tempted to look for air raid shelters but decided that cheese and biscuits and a glass of wine would be preferable substitutes. 

 

 Eventually the fire brigade found the cause of the problem in a different hut in the complex and we returned to more film clips of Dylan's work. 

 It was certainly an afternoon with a difference, and many members were surprised to discover the range of films linked with Dylan Thomas over

 the years.  Many thanks to Helen and her team of Kay, Helmi and Jane for producing the food, and to Noel for serving the wine and soft drinks.

 Thanks also to Annie S and Rob F for the photos.

 

Waiting for the film to start in an authentic environment
Waiting for the film to start in an authentic environment

                                                               RIDING THE CHARABANC OUT OF THE SYDNEY RAINS
 
Dylan's story, The Outing, took place on a warm, sunny August day in Wales.  Our version of the outing invariably takes place in winter, but we usually manage to get blue skies and pleasantly warm weather.  This year, 2013, the omens were less promising.  After weeks of rainy weather we were told the worst day for gales and flooding rain was likely to be Sunday 23 June, the day of our big journey to Swansea and Caves Beach.  
 
Undeterred by the heavy rain in Sydney, forty-eight intrepid DTSA members and friends clambered aboard the Pegasus charabanc and headed north towards the tropics and sunnier conditions.  And, apart from a short shower while we were having lunch, we enjoyed completely fine weather and had a wonderful day.
 
First stop, as usual, was Doylo's - only an 'oo' away from being Dylan's.  Doylo's is the elegant Doyalson RSL Club, where we stopped for refreshments and to hear Clive's well-practised recitation of The Outing itself.  Then it was lunch at Swansea RSL where we were allowed to take over the dining room with its water views.  There we had a collective reading of poems and stories by Dylan linked to the sea and coast around Swansea in Wales, while Clive recited Poem in October and Death Shall Have No Dominion.
 
At Caves Beach we listened to Clive's performance of Holiday Memory then went down to explore the caves themselves.  It was low tide, so we had more freedom than usual in our exploration, but with many people unable to make the descent down the steps we did not stay to read Extraordinary Little Cough in the caves as we had intended.  Still, the caves provided a real highlight, especially for people visiting them for the first time.
 
 
                                                                                 DTSA explorers at the entrance to the main cave
 
Our final stop was the Wallarah Hotel at Catherine Hill Bay, otherwise known as The Catho.  A far cry from the elegance of Doylo's,  the hotel, built in 1870, has an atmosphere and clientele that would surely have appealed to Dylan and Caitlin.   When we arrived, a rock band with the name of Angel Gear was producing a sound far from heavenly but loud enough to be heard in Kingdom Come.  Patrick  Milligan was inspired to dance; most of the rest of us sought shelter outside the deaf zone and enjoyed a quiet drink when the angels put down their amplified harps for an extended and very welcome break.
 
                                              Lorraine enjoys a Milligan massage at Catho's while we relax before the return journey in the charabanc
 
Most of the journey on the coach was learning time for DTSA devotees,  as we had an amazing array of DVDs on Dylan's life and work to watch and listen to.  Some have been shown before, but are worth seeing many times over, while the new ones are always a delight.  We returned to bedraggled Sydney on time, inspired by a day of enjoyable activity and thrilling words.
                                      THE LEGEND AND POET AFTERNOON: DYLAN THE FAMILY MAN
 
The Legend and Poet afternoon for 2013 was held as usual at Paul Delprat's art school premises at Georges Heights, Mosman.  This year's topic was chosen because of the death near Christmas of Dylan's last child, Colm, and the recent interview with Dylan's granddaughter, Hannah, published in the DTSA magazine in March.  The script for Dylan the Family Man was written by Clive and read by Helen.  The poems and prose pieces were read by Clive, Greg Bell, Rob Horlin, Paul Delprat and Susannah Fullerton.
 
As usual, the atmospheric studio was nicely full with a very responsive audience.  The script focused first on Dylan's childhood within his own extended family, full of ederly aunts who spoiled him, then moved on to his very different life with his own children.  Passages from his letters and Caitlin's books were interspersed among the poems, chosen to reflect varying family interests and to show the work of poets linked to Dylan in one way or another.  There were three CD tracks of Dylan reading poems:  After the Funeral (about his Aunt Annie's funeral), This Side of the Truth (a poem he wrote to his son Llewelyn) and John Betjeman's poem, To My Son aged 8.
 
Though there were many tragic and moving events brought to life, there was humour too.  The two extremes were perhaps best exemplified by Greg's performance of Sylvia Plath's Daddy, and Clive's reading of Ogden Nash's children poems.  The audience expressed their appreciation of the work of the readers in enthusiastic style.  A visitor to the event, professional actor Kipan Rothbury, who has taken the part of First Voice in a London production of Under Milk Wood, was delighted with the occasion.
 
                                                           Emyr takes over the job as food-taster 
 
 
To be fair, the quality of the refreshments was such that everyone was bound to be in the best of moods.  Helen, Kay, Jane and Helmi produced quite the best spread we've ever has a DTSA event, and that's a big statement given their wondrous catering on previous occasions.  Add to that the wine, assiduously served by Noel, and it is no suprise that the afternoon was so enjoyable.

                                          A MOST CONVIVIAL AGM 

We have always said that our annual general meeting is a social event as much as an

administrative necessity, and the social side grows more relaxed each year.  Given the

unavoidable absence of several stalwarts, we were delighted that forty-four members

and friends were able to be present.  

At the AGM itself, members were informed that membership was at an all-time high,

and the funds were in a healthy state.  Clive spoke of the  unique opportunity provided

by next year's centenary tour.

There were only two new faces on the committee elected for 2013.  The final

composition of the committee was as follows:

President:    Clive Woosnam

Vice-pres:    Will Christie

Secretary:    Ian Lewis

Treasurer:    Kay Hardman

Committee Members: Helmi Albrecht, Olwen Barnes, Malcolm Brown, John Davies, Emyr

Evans, Noel Hardman, Annie Schlebaum, Helen Woosnam (Editor, Down Under Milk

Wood) and two new members, Gwynn Roberts and Wendy Walker.

Clive outlined the program for 2013 and called for more suggestions to celebrate the

centenary of Dylan's birth when the tour party returns to Australia in October next

year.

After the AGM was closed Clive provided two pieces of entertainment for the group.

The first was Dylan's remarkable performance on CD acting out the final soliloquy from

Christopher Marlowe's Faustus.  The second was a reading by Clive of Dylan's little

known radio script, Living in Wales, broadcast in Scotland in 1949. Following the reading, 

Clive went over some of the allusions in the script, revealing different layers of humour.

 

Once again, the AGM provided an enjoyable start to the DTSA year.

 
                                                                                                        DTSA EVENT SCHEDULE FOR 2013
 
Sunday 3 February 12 Noon Lunch at Mosman Club
AGM at 3:30PM
 
Sunday 7 April  12 Noon
Lunch then Legend & Poet afternoon
 
Georges Hts Mosman
Sunday 23 June
The Outing from Sydney to Swansea and Caves Beach
 
 All day
Sunday, 11 August Centenary Tour meeting
POSTPONED*
 
Saturday 28 September Dylan & the world of Film
2.00pm Georges Hts Mosman
 
Saturday 9 November: 12 noon
 
Sunday 8 December  12 noon
60th anniversary wake of Dylan's death
 
Celebration Lunch
Small gathering at Eden Gardens, Ryde
 
Zabou Kitchen, Bowlers Club 99 York St
 
* Date to be advised     
  
   

THE DEATH OF COLM THOMAS

This is a condensed version of an article by Robin Turner in the Western Mail of Dec 18, 2012
 

THE last surviving child of Welsh writer Dylan Thomas has died at his home in Italy after being ill for  some time. Colm Thomas, who was the youngest son of Dylan and Caitlin Thomas, died at the weekend aged 63.

He had been ill for a number of months and it is understood broncho-pneumonia led to heart problems which caused his death. His funeral was held in Italy yesterday in accordance with the Italian custom of holding funerals as soon as possible after death.   

Colm Thomas was born in 1949 and following the death of Dylan Thomas’ other two children, Llewellyn and Aeronwy, he was the last of Dylan’s immediate family. 

Trevor Ellis, husband of the late Aeronwy Ellis-Thomas described Colm as “charming and clever”. Hannah Ellis Thomas, Dylan’s grand-daughter and president of the Dylan Thomas Society of Great Britain, said: “[Colm] had a sense of fun and was incredibly kind and we’re all going to miss him very much.”

Speaking from the snowy Italian village of Scanno in the Majella mountains, Ms Ellis Thomas said: “The whole village turned out for Colm, which was nice. He was a lovely, kind man who had a sense of fun. He got a degree in history but did all sorts of jobs including being a taxi driver. He lived in Australia for a while and spent some time in London but he was in Italy for the past 20 years. He was very popular in the village here as I found when they all came out for his funeral. It has been snowing here and the place, high in the mountains east of Rome, looks beautiful. I can see why he enjoyed living here.”

By the time Colm (full name Colm Garan Hart) was born on July 25, 1949, Dylan Thomas and his family had moved to the poet’s final home, the Boat House at Laugharne. Colm was just four when his father died while on a literary tour in New York in 1953.

Dylan’s wife Caitlin Macnamara Thomas died in 1994, their first son Llewellyn Edouard Thomas died in 2000 and their daughter Aeronwy Bryn Thomas died in 2009.

Last Friday, Prince Charles, on a visit to the house in 5, Cwmdonkin Drive, Uplands, Swansea, where Dylan was born, announced he would be the Royal Patron for DT100, the year-long festival in 2014 which will celebrate the centenary of Thomas’ birth.

Colm Thomas, told of the plan in Italy earlier this year, was said to have been excited about the festival which will see commemorative events throughout Britain and also in the USA and Australia.

   

*     *     *     *     *     *

    COLM'S LINKS WITH THE DTSA by Clive Woosnam

Colm (usually pronounced Colum) is the only member of Dylan's family to have attended a DTSA event - one held at Olwen Morris's house in the early years of the Society.  Colm's wife, Louise, hails from Paddington in Sydney, and spends most of the year in Australia, as their Italian home in Scanno is located at well over 1000m in altitude, making it a cool place to live.  Louise attended the DTSA reception with Colm, but in recent years his health has not allowed him to travel far.  At the performance of Good Night, Dylan, one of the audience members introduced himself as a friend of Colm's and told me that Colm's illness had worsened and that prospects of a recovery were bleak.

It is ironic that Good Night, Dylan dealt with Dylan's death from morphine injections and broncho-pneumonia, then a few months later Colm dies from heart failure resulting from the same disease.  Like his father, Colm was a chain smoker.  In the evening at Newport he rolled his own cigarettes and smoked continuously, but seemed to drink little.  He came over as a pleasant, self-effacing man who did not claim any expert knowledge of his father's works.  Evidently, from statements made by those who knew him well, he was a person of charm and humour, who faced ill-health with courage over many years.

                                       

Here am I having an animated conversation with Colm 

As soon as the news broke of Colm's death, I contacted his niece, Hannah Ellis, to pass on a message of sympathy from the DTSA to all the members of the family. 

 

 

 

                     

PRESIDENT’S REPORT FOR 2012

 

2012 was a break-through year for the DTSA in some ways.  Not only did our paid-up membership rise to record levels, but we gained more publicity than we have in past years and staged the first original play-for-voices written about Dylan’s death.  What is more, we are now in regular contact with leading Dylan Thomas

authorities in Britain and await our first Dylan Thomas tour back to Wales for next year’s centenary festival.

 

Our events in 2012 were all successful – except, perhaps, the one over which we had no control, held in the Sydney Opera House.  The AGM at the Mosman Club attracted a good turnout and a healthy-sized committee.  The food and drink were well received as was my ‘Christmas Comparison’ between Dylan’s childhood Christmas in South Wales and mine twenty-five years later.  The Legend and Poet afternoon, at HeadlandPark, was particularly interesting, in that the topic was Dylan and the Spoken Word and we were able to use more CD tracks than usual of Dylan reading a wide variety of works in different styles and accents.

 

We were not able to make full use of the publicity engendered by the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Under Milk Wood, (though not for want of trying!) and our theatre visit to the final dress rehearsal at the Opera House left most of us disappointed.  Still, there were favourable comments in the media and the production did something to lift Dylan’s profile in Sydney.  In contrast, the Christmas in July lunch in Grand View Hotel, WentworthFalls, was a resounding success.  We had a good attendance, lovely atmosphere, great Christmas food and very popular readings including, of course, a recitation of A Child’s Christmas in Wales.

 

In September came the first-ever performance of my new play-for-voices, Good Night, Dylan.  No less than THREE new plays on Dylan’s death have been commissioned by TV channels in Britain, to screen in October 2014.  It was good to know that Good Night Dylan got in first.  Dylan’s granddaughter Hannah Ellis, and Dylan expert David N Thomas have both passed on their commendations; we are likely to perform it again next year.  I am grateful to the cast for taking part, and especially to Olwen Morris who came up to Sydney from Merimbula especially to take part.  We have a sound DVD of the event for those interested.

 

The Celebration Lunch featured a speech by committee member Malcolm Brown on the topic of Creative Inspiration.  Malcolm, who had just retired after a long career as a leading SMH journalist, had been the central figure in an ABC TV episode of Australian Story, and was about to embark on a walk to Dubbo, since completed.  Malcolm seems to have changed sides: once the reporter of stories, he now IS the story!  As usual, the lunch was a convivial event, and a pleasant end to the DTSA year.

 

Attendance at the committee meetings was surprisingly good given the long absences of Will Christie, Ian Lewis and Emyr Evans overseas.  Ian took over the role of secretary, Kay Hardman, as ever, was a meticulous treasurer, while Helen and I produced three sixteen-page editions of Down Under Milk Wood.  The web site, DylanT.talkspot.com, was kept up-to-date with the help of photos from Emyr, Rob Horlin and Annie Schlebaum.  I particularly wish to commend Kay & Noel Hardman and Olwen Barnes for attending committee meetings so far from their homes.  Helen worked wonderfully well as usual on the catering, helped by Kay, Olwen, Helmi Albrecht, Rosemary Munro and Helen Rex.

 

We never try to twist anyone’s arm to join our committee, but we would appreciate people with ideas volunteering to serve with us.  Committee meetings are usually very enjoyable and not too formal.  My main message in this report, though, must be to get members to think about the 2014 Centenary Tour.  It is great value, will be very enjoyable, and will never be repeated.  It is an opportunity not to be missed.

 

Clive Woosnam

January 2013

   

 

                                              

THE CELEBRATION LUNCH AT MOSMAN CLUB, 1 DECEMBER 2012

The final event of the year for the Dylan Thomas Society of Australia was the Celebration Lunch, held as usual in the Terrace Restaurant on the top floor of the Mosman Club.  Forty-four members and friends turned up for a convivial lunch on a hot day tempered by a cool sea breeze.  Clive outlined the program for 2013 and spoke about the 2014 tour to Wales, England and Ireland, then introduced DTSA committee member, Malcolm Brown, to address the gathering. 

Malcolm, who has recently retired after a long career as a leading SMH journalist, was the subject of an episode of the ABC TV series, Australian Story, just five weeks before the lunch.  He has also written and edited a number of books, and so is well qualified to speak on the subject of creative inspiration, the topic he chose.

 
                            Most of the food has been cleared and the members are chatting in anticipation of Malcolm's address.  
                            At the centre of the picture is Roger Jones, who flew up from Hobart for the lunch.
                            Roger and Doreen are two of our most valued founder members.
                    
 
Malcolm's words were well received,  He was followed by a brief reading of Spike Milligan poems read by Spike's brother (and illustrator) Patrick Milligan, and the final item was the obligatory seasonal offering of A Child's Christmas in Wales, recited by Clive.
 
Members left the meeting in high spirits looking forward to another great DTSA year in 2013.

                      

                                      Malcolm in full spate in front of Augustus John's portrait of Dylan        

 

 

GOOD NIGHT, DYLAN

This was a unique event: the first-ever performance of a new ‘play for voices’ to be performed by the Dylan Thomas Society of Australia (DTSA) in the auditorium of the Mosman Returned Servicemen’s Club, 719 Military Road, Mosman at 3.00pm on Sunday2 2 September.

The Welsh poet Dylan Thomas lived a tempestuous life which ended soon after his thirty-ninth birthday in 1953. The popular belief is that he drank himself to death but this has long been queried. His most famous poem is probably "Do Not Go Gentle

Into That Good Night" in which he urges the reader to fight against death. ForDylan himself, the end was unexpected and, until recently, unexplained.

Good Night Dylan explores the dramatic events leading up to his death and looks backon his early life and writings. Using vital recent research author Clive Woosnampresident of the DTSA analyses the evidence in what for years has been one of the most amazing literary whodunnits of the Twentieth Century.

At the time of his collapse Dylan was in New York for readings of his now famous playfor voices Under Milk Wood recently presented at the Sydney Opera House by the Sydney Theatre Company. Good Night Dylan uses the same approach Dylan used in NewYork: actors at microphones interweaving their stories and piecing together the explosivelife of the poet and the remarkable truth of his death.

The cast consisted of seven actors, each playing a main role and a number of minor parts. Clive played the narrator, Voice 1, Elias Greig took the part of Dylan while Helen Woosnam played the role of Caitlin. There were four advocates putting forward the various possible causes of death: Greg Bell was the advocate for the excess alcohol theory;

Strong the advocate for the breathing problems theory; Carey Lewis for the Crisis of Confidence theory and Olwen Morris for the Doctor Error theory.

Before the actors took the stage we had a short DVD presentation of Dylan reading his famous poem, Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night, alongside pictures of the poet at various stages of his career.

Part of the audience at the Mosman Club auditorium before the show,

The play began with a rapid interchange of comments in response to the news of Dylan's death, in the Welsh pattern of street gossip used in Under Milk Wood. The first half of the play deals with the impact of alcohol and chest diseases upon Dylan,

referring back to his childhood days. There was plenty of humour, despite the serious nature of the topic, with Elias Greig's beautiful voice used to full effect in some of the best lines.

After the interval, attention turned to the two other possible causes of Dylan's demise - in his crisis of confidence and doctor error. Dylan and Caitlin's lives were so outrageous that tragedy has to compete with black humour and mystery.

Dylan's death has long been open to question, but finally the truth seems to have emerged, and Good Night Dylan has used this new information as the basis of a new literary creation.

A DYLAN THOMAS CHRISTMAS-IN-JULY LUNCH IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS

On July 1 at the Grand View Hotel in Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains, theDTSA biennial lunch found a new home that could become an institution.The hotel's proximity to the highway and the railway station made it very accessible so that, despite the unavailability of many of our regulars and the withdrawal of others  because of ill-health, we still managed to draw a record attendance. And no-one who attended could have been disappointed in any way. The private room, with its fire and Christmas trimmings, was perfect for our needs, and the food was very special - amazing both in quality and quantity and remarkable value for money.

                       

The Grand View Hotel, right on the Highway at Wentworth Falls

Clive recited his shortened version of A Child's Christmas in Wales and read a similarly abbreviated version of Richard Burton's 'A Christmas Story'. Burton himself (on CD) read the opening stanzas of Dylan's 'A Winter's Tale' and Clive added Vernon Watkins' 'Midwinter', and Gwyn Thomas's thoughts on Christmas.

Some of the forty-eight DTSA members and guests at the gathering, The service was excellent and the atmosphere near-perfect: all that was missing was the snow. Snow flurries down to 900 metres had been promised by the Weather Bureau - a very tempting prospect as the hotel room stands at exactly that altitude, but no snow was forthcoming. Instead, we had a beautifully sunny afternoon, great food and wine and inspiring literature.

 

2012 PROGRAM OF DTSA EVENTS

Sunday 5 Feb at the Mosman Club: 12.00pm lunch followed by 1.30 AGM and a short DTSA 'entertainment'.

Sunday 1 April at Julian Ashton Art School centre, Mosman: 12.00pm lunch followed by 1.30pm Legend & Poet afternoon of readings. This year’s theme: Dylan and the Spoken Word.

Friday 25 May at Opera House Drama Theatre: visit to Sydney Theatre Company production of Under Milk Wood starring Jack Thompson. (All our tickets were sold at Celebration Lunch, but other tickets available at the box office)

Sunday 1 July, 12.30pm: A Dylan Thomas Christmas luncheon at the Grand View Hotel, WentworthFalls, featuring “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” and other wintry words of Dylan, along with a full ‘Christmas in July’ luncheon.

Sunday 2 Sept, 2.00pm: The world’s first performance of ‘Good Night, Dylan’ at the Mosman Club: an exploration of the true causes of the sudden death of Dylan Thomas in a rehearsed dramatised reading.

Saturday 1 December, 12.00pm: The DTSA Celebration Lunch at the Mosman Club.

 

EVENTS OF 2011
 
 
 

   THE CELEBRATION LUNCH AT THE MOSMAN CLUB, DEC 3, Patrick Milligan ready for birthday celebrations

A happy group of forty-five or so members met for the celebration lunch at the Mosman Club on December 3.  After a most enjoyable lunch, at which members could choose from the full, extensive menu of Sybil’s Restaurant on the club’s top floor, we had a celebration of Patrick Milligan’s eighty-sixth birthday.  Then we were entertained by Will Christie and Zoe Norton Lodge’s presentation of ‘The Road to Mulga Wood’, a follow-up to ‘The Road to Milk Wood’, a piece written by Will some years ago and presented twice by the DTSA. 

 Will’s witty and poetic play for voices, ‘Under Mulga Wood’, was recently produced by the society at the SydneyMechanicsSchool of Arts in Pitt Street.  Will gave us the backround to the work, explaining his original interest in Dylan Thomas and the ways he had adapted the original play to an Australian setting.  His commentary was itself a work of art.

 Clive gave details of the year’s events and the projected program for 2012.  The seats booked for our members to attend the Sydney Theatre Company production of Under Milk Wood were sold out at the lunch.

 
  Will and Zoe on the road to Mulga Wood
 
 
 
 
EVENTS OF 2010

 

EVENT 1: THE AGM

Sunday, 7 February saw some 34 members and guests of the DTSA meet for lunch at the Mosman Club, where we were given exclusive use of the top floor area for the meal and the annual general meeting that followed.  The efficient staff were able to provide a wide variety of inexpensive meals to the eager patrons, putting everyone in the best of humour for the AGM.

 

Once the dishes were cleared, we got down to the task of electing the DTSA committee for 2010.  The 2009 executive officers were all elected unopposed:

 

             

 

President:                    Clive Woosnam

Vice-President:           Will Christie

Secretary:                    Gina Ryman

Treasurer:                    Kay Hardman

Public Officer:             John Notary

Other members elected to the committee were: Malcolm Brown, John Davies, Emyr Evans, Ann Fisher, Noel Hardman, Ian Lewis, Vicki Partridge, Annie Schlebaum and Helen Woosnam.

 Clive thanked all in attendance and gave his report for 2009.  He also presented an outline of proposed activities for the coming year.

 

                  

 

Kay assured us that our bank statement was happily in the black and the meeting concluded on a positive note with a number of members remaining to chat and drink coffee and tea before returning home.  Very few AGMs – or committee meetings, for that matter – can compete with the happy atmosphere generated at our DTSA gatherings; perhaps it’s the knowledge that Dylan would feel very much at home in such a setting and with such convivial company.

 

 

EVENT 2: THE LEGEND AND POET AFTERNOON, 11 APRIL 2010

The forced change of venue from Berkelouws Bookstore to the Julian Ashton art centre at Mosman looked likely to cause problems for the 2010 event, but, in the end, the afternoon was a great success.  The food, as usual, was brilliant, with Helen organising the catering and Kay, Noel, Clive and Helen Rex coordinating the barbecue and the feast of extras.  The lovely weather and the beauty of the setting were extra attractions on this occasion, so everyone was in a perfect frame of mind for the poetry readings.  Clive's script, read by Helen, outlined the distractions city life posed for Dylan.  The two big cities in Dylan's life were London and New York, and these were the focus of most of the poems.  The readings included poems and excerpts of prose from letters, biographies and film screenplays.  Two readings by Dylan on CD had the  impact expected; all the other readings were well received, with Clive, Will, Elias, Emyr and our host Paul Delprat doing the honours.


        

              FIRST SESSION READINGS

 

 

1        ON WESTMINSTER  BRIDGE by WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

2        LINES ON LONDON (from Don Juan) by LORD BYRON    

3       LONDON by WILLIAM BLAKE 

4       EXTRACTS from DYLAN’S LETTERS & BIOGRAPHY

5       CLANCY OF THE OVERFLOW by A.B. PATERSON  

6       FURTHER BIOGRAPHICAL EXCERPTS

7       BUSINESS GIRLS by JOHN BETJEMAN

8       PRELUDES by T.S. ELIOT

9       A COUNTRYMAN’S RETURN by DYLAN THOMAS

10     EXCERPT from OUR COUNTRY by DYLAN THOMAS

11      CEREMONY AFTER AN AIR RAID by DYLAN THOMAS (CD)

 

        The readings will be linked by a script outlining the impact of the City on Dylan’s life and works

 

                 SECOND SESSION READINGS

 

 

1     AMONG THOSE KILLED… by DYLAN THOMAS (CD)

2    OWED TO NEW YORK by BYRON NEWTON

3    O MIGHTY CITY OF NEW YORK by Wm McGONAGALL

4     HYMN OF NOT MUCH PRAISE FOR NY by T MERTON

5     A NIGHT IN BROOKLYN by DENNIS NURSKE

      6    LETTER ON NEW YORK from DYLAN to CAITLIN

      7    CHICAGO by CARL SANDBURG

      8    STRAVINSKY IN L.A. by ELIZABETH ALEXANDER
      9    FESTIVAL EXHIBITION by DYLAN THOMAS

 

           

      Script and program: Clive Woosnam

      Narrator:  Helen Woosnam

            Readers:  Clive, Will Christie, Elias Greig, Emyr Evans & Paul Delprat (and Dylan on CD)      

            Refreshments: Helen, Kay, Clive & Noel



EVENT 3:  A DYLAN ALPINE CHRISTMAS, 27 JUNE 2010

This was the flyer used to attract members to Dylan's Alpine Christmas in June

 

COME AND BRIGHTEN UP THE BLEAK MIDWINTER WITH

A FESTIVE DYLAN THOMAS ALPINE CHRISTMAS


 


 

This photo was taken in 2004 with real snow and snowmen to provide extra atmosphere

 

Date:                   Sunday 27 June 2010

Time and Place:     a) 11.00am at the Sturt Café, Mittagong

                                   b) 12.00 for 12.30pm at Gina & Bill’s house, Alpine

What’s on?             Our Dylan’s Alpine Christmas, with morning tea or coffee at the atmospheric Sturt Cafe, and Christmas lunch at Gina & Bill’s, complete with roast ham and chicken, Christmas pudding and Christmas decorations.  There’ll be readings of different works of Dylan concerning Christmas and snow, including, of course, A Child’s Christmas in Wales.

Cost?             A beautiful Christmas lunch will be prepared for you and will cost $25, including wine and soft drink.  Normal prices apply to tea and coffee at the Sturt Café.

Getting There?     It’s an easy drive to Alpine (which is just before Mittagong) and you can even get there by rail, so we won’t use a bus.  Let us know if you are coming by train.

Booking?                  We have a firm limit of just 30 guests at Gina and Bill’s.  We will need advance payment to ensure that we don’t have empty seats and wasted meals.  Please send cheques, payable to the DTSA, to Clive Woosnam, 214 Barrenjoey Rd, Newport, NSW 2106 as soon as possible, to confirm a booking.  Those who pay first will guarantee a place.  For further details, phone Clive on 9997 2019 or email clivewoosnam@hotmail.co

                                                                                       

 

                                                                      

                                                                    Our hosts, Gina and Bill, at the 2008 lunch

 Directions to the Sturt Café:  When you get to Mittagong look out for the big Best Western Motel on the left.  Turn left at Fitzroy St as you reach it – the Sturt Gallery and Café are signposted.  Cross the railway line and pass FrenshamSchool.  The café is on the right at the corner of Range Road and Waverley Parade.

Directions to Bill and Gina’s:  As you approach Mittagong from Sydney on the Hume Highway you see a turnoff for Colo Vale, Hill Top, and Yerrinbool.  Take the road to Yerrinbool, pass the sign “Welcome to Alpine”.  You’re now on the Old Hume Highway. Exactly 3.5 km down the road from the turnoff is your destination, BalatonPark.  When you see a yellow road sign “Low overhead clearance power wires” on the left side of the road, slow down and prepare to turn left.  A sign Alpine Berry Farm and  Balaton Park, will mark the entrance.  Turn down the drive and continue to the house.

 
 
 

 BRIEF REPORT

 The day itself certainly lived up to expectations.  The weather was perfect, if perfection can occur without snow for an occasion such as this, our members basked outside the Sturt Gallery Cafe in Mittagong in the beautiful sunshine and rural setting, enjoyed a quick peep at the art and craft on display, then made the short drive to Bill and Gina's property, Balaton, at Alpine.  There we could enjoy the lovely scenery from the lawns as well as making the most of the elegant interiors of the house.  The meal was excellent (thanks to the work of Gina, Bill, Helen, Avril and Joy) we had the evocative words of Dylan to keep us entertained, Christmas carols on the pianola, and the DVD of the story in the 'auditorium'.  The photos below and in the photo gallery give some idea of the occasion.  Annie Schlebaum was the main photographer.  Many thanks are due to Gina and Bill for their hospitality and the hard work that is entailed in hosting this event. 

 
 
    




On Friday 8 October the DTSA put on a reception for all other Sydney literary societies based on British writers along with two representatives of the Johnson Society in Melbourne who flew to Sydney especially for the event.  Richard Morris, the British Consul-General, thanked everyone for their attendance and stressed the social and economic importance of cultural societies to Britain.  As a graduate in English literature Richard had a particular interest in the reception and the new society that had been formed as a direct result of the DTSA invitations being sent out.  We now have an umbrella society called Literary Societies of Sydney with a website and brochure to advertise the presence of our groups.

The reception was attended by nearly forty leading members of other societies and over forty DTSA members.  All eleven societies appointed representatives to speak on their behalf  and there was a very positive atmosphere to the whole proceedings.  As usual at a DTSA function, the refreshments, organised by Helen and her team, were superb.  A full account of the event was found in the November issue of Down Under Milk Wood

The final event of the year was held on Saturday 4 December:  a DTSA end of year lunch at the Mosman Club.  The guest speaker was DTSA member, Paul Delprat, Principal of the Julian Ashton Art School.  He gave an entertaining address about his personal links with many of Australia's great artists and film celebrities, and dealt amusingly with his battles for secession from Mosman Municipality.  The members in attendance seemed to enjoy both the speech and the food.  Clive Woosnam added his version of A Child's Christmas in Wales and Patrick Milligan provided an appropriate postscript.

 

                                                                  

It is with great regret that the DTSA acknowledges the death of John Notary, the Public Officer of the society, at the age of 83.  John was the only member of our society  to have met and spoken to Dylan Thomas.  He battled recurring forms of cancer with enormous courage before succumbing on 22 July.  Our thoughts are with his widow, Pamela, and his children and grandchildren.  A memorial function was held on the Central Coast on 21 August and the DTSA was well represented.

 

EVENTS OF 2009

The Annual General Meeting

The AGM took place on 8 February, 2009, the day when the enormity of the Victorian bushfires was becoming known, and a day when extreme heat was forecast for Sydney.  As a result of the threatened conditions, the AGM reception and lunch was moved from the non-airconditioned Julian Ashton Art School in Georges Heights to the nearby Mosman Club, where we held our November DTSA celebration.  In the event, we did not require airconditioning for our lunch, held on the shaded terrace with its panoramic views and beautiful sea breeze.  Despite the many late withdrawals, 24 members were rewarded for their bravery in the face of the elements by enjoying excellent food, good company and a pleasant atmosphere.

The AGM was held in the main auditorium.  All members of last year's executive were thanked for their efforts on behalf of the society.  The treasurer's report was warmly welcomed and the president's report was well received.  Will received special acclamation for his work as founding editor of Down Under Milk Wood, prior to standing down after the tenth anniversary edition at the end of 2008.  Everything went to plan and a new, large committee was elected.  The 2009 positions are:

President            Clive Woosnam
Vice-President    Will Christie
Secretary            Gina Ryman
Treasurer            Kay Hardman
Public Officer      John Notary 

Other committee members:  Malcolm Brown, Peter Christian, John Davies, Ann Fisher, Noel Hardman, Isobel Kirk, Ian Lewis, Annie Schlebaum, Helen Woosnam.

Helen's offer to take over as editor of Down Under Milk Wood was eagerly accepted.  Gina offered her practical support in assisting the newsletter production.  We listened to some tracks of a possible DTSA CD incorporating excerpts from the 2003 production of Under Milk Wood, and enthusiasm was shown for a revival of the DTSA version.  A positive atmosphere prevailed throughout the meeting, providing an excellent start to 2009.



THE ANNUAL LEGEND & POET NIGHT

The annual Legend and Poet night was held on 3 April 2009, once again at Berkelouws Bookstore in Norton St Leichhardt.  The evening was successful in every way.  We had more space to use than usual but the setting retained its appropriately bookish charm.  The food, produced by Helen and Kay, was magnificent, and took many first-time visitors by surprise.  Noel was a most professional barman, and the atmosphere was one of total conviviality.

The theme of the night was Dylan and the Elements, using both the classical meaning of the term (earth, air, fire & water) and the colloquial meaning of extreme weather conditions.  Clive wrote the script which was read by Helen as narrator; Clive also acted as main performer of the readings.  There were 22 in all, including four poems by Dylan Thomas and several prose excerpts from his letters and stories.  Other poets represented included Coleridge, Shakespeare, T S Eliot, Ted Hughes, Theodore Roethke & Vernon Watkins, while Australia was represented by Dorothea Mackellar, John O'Brien and Henry Lawson.
All the readings fitted into the framework of the script.  Other readers were Will Christie, Elias Grieg, Isobel Kirk, Dan Lewis, Annie Schlebaum and Adrian Bitel, while Dylan himself and the inimitable Richard Burton delighted us with CD renditions.

The readings and narrative provided plenty to think about as well as moments of sadness and hilarity. The final item of the night was a Dylan & the Elements horoscope which provided some unusual insights and maintained the level of entertainment that had prevailed throughout the evening.  Below is a copy of the inside of the program and a couple of photos of the occasion.  Other pictures may be found in the Photo Gallery.

          FIRST SESSION READINGS

 

1        A REFUSAL TO MOURN… by DYLAN THOMAS (on CD)

 

2       THE FORCE THAT THROUGH…by DYLAN THOMAS    

 

3       FIRE & ICE by ROBERT FROST 

 

4       PASSAGES from THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER by SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE (on CD)

   

5       LETTER EXCERPTS on HEAT by DYLAN THOMAS  

 

6       SAID HANRAHAN by JOHN O’BRIEN

 

7       MY COUNTRY by DOROTHEA MACKELLAR (inc CD)

 

8       SONG from CYMBELINE by WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

 

9       EXCERPTS from LITTLE GIDDING by T S ELIOT

 

10     LONDON SNOW by ROBERT BRIDGES

 

11      LETTER EXCERPTS on COLD by DYLAN THOMAS

 

        The readings will be linked by a script outlining the impact of the             Elements on Dylan’s life and works.

 

        Refreshments: Helen, Kay, Clive, Noel & Joy

 

 

           SECOND SESSION READINGS

 

1     EXCERPT from A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES         by DYLAN THOMAS (on CD)

 

2    PENNSYLVANIA DEUTSCH by CHRIS MORLEY

 

3    THE STORM by THEODORE ROETHKE

 

4     LETTERS ON RAIN by DYLAN THOMAS

 

      5    THE DROVER by HENRY LAWSON

    

      6    AUTUMN by ROY CAMPBELL

    

      7    PEACE IN THE WELSH HILLS

            by VERNON WATKINS

 

8    ESPECIALLY WHEN… by DYLAN THOMAS

 

9    WIND by TED HUGHES

 

10  A WINTER’S TALE by DYLAN THOMAS (on CD)

 

      11   DYLAN & THE ELEMENTS – A HOROSCOPE

           

      Script and program: Clive Woosnam

      Narrator:  Helen Woosnam

      Readers:  Clive, Will Christie, Elias Greig, Isobel Kirk, Dan Lewis, Susannah Fullerton, Annie Schlebaum & Adrian Bitel (and Dylan & Richard Burton on CD)



Will Christie concentrating on the text                                        Elias Grieg using his fine voice

 

 
Clive and Helen in action



The next event was the famous biennial OUTING to Swansea,  Caves Beach and Catherine Hill Bay, on 14 June. 

Despite several last-minute withdrawals at the onset of the 'flu season, the day was a huge success.  Below is a copy of the flyer followed by a report on the day and the Sydney Morning Herald article by Malcolm Brown.  The photos are shown in the photo gallery. 

                                 

 

 

Devote a delightful day to dreams of Dylan

 

The Dylan Thomas Society of Australia

presents, once again, its famous

 

CHARABANC OUTING

                           on Sunday 14 June 2009

 

      Travel in a modern Pegasus  charabanc to Swansea.

      Watch excellent DVDs on  Dylan’s life & works as you travel north
     
 Have lunch at the beautiful Swansea RSL Club, with its views of sand, water and seabirds.
       VisitCavesBeach for stories set in similar parts of Wales.
       Visit the mining community of Catherine Hill Bay and its historic pub.

 

Clothes should be comfortable.  We won’t insist on best suits or bow ties, but don’t follow Mr Weazley’s example – you will need your false teeth.  We regret that primus stoves are not allowed on this charabanc.

PICK-UPS:    8.45am at the SydneyUniversity footbridge on Parramatta Road;

                    9.30am on the Pacific Highway opposite Pymble Railway Station.

         10.15am at the Kariong Interchange

         We expect to return to Parramatta Road by 6.00pm.

Bookings can be made by sending a cheque for $25 per person (coach travel only; $15 from Kariong), payable to the Dylan Thomas Society of Australia, to:

Kay Hardman (Treasurer) 35 Deaves Rd Cooranbong NSW 2265.  If we get close to a full load there’ll be a profit – and the last shout will be on the DTSA!

Any further enquiries should be made to Clive Woosnam on 9997 2019.

 

WE ARE LIMITED TO ONE COACH SO EARLY BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL


 

Salute to a great boyo - with no doubting Thomases

 

Malcolm Brown
June 15, 2009

THEY sang, they drank, they paddled, as they re-enacted scenes from the Welsh seaside childhood of Dylan Thomas.

The Dylan Thomas Society of Australia, formed in 1995 to perpetuate interest in the poet and author, yesterday re-created events from Thomas's short story The Outing at its annual gathering. The coast at Caves Beach near Newcastle was distinctly Australia but at least the overcast drizzle seemed Welsh.

As a child, Thomas was supposedly press-ganged into a trip with a group of men on a charabanc - a prototype bus - from a Welsh village to the seaside. But with so many drinking stops along the way the charabanc did not get there.

The society, which includes academics, electricians, management consultants, teachers, engineers and journalists, did in fact make it to the beach yesterday, near the aptly named suburb of Swansea.

Thomas never visited Australia, but the group's president, Clive Woosnam, believes he would have taken to Sydney for its egalitarian culture, harbour, seafood and lack of pomposity.

One member of the society, Will Christie, has published the successful play Under Mulga Wood, a homage to Thomas's most famous work, Under Milk Wood. "I think, of all literary societies keeping the literary tradition, in our case specifically reading aloud poetry is important," Dr Christie said.

Ken Pearson, an engineer, feeling an absence of culture in his life, attended Workers Education Association lectures and met Dr Christie, who introduced him to Thomas. Mr Pearson does have a Welsh connection: a forebear who lived on the border of Wales and England stole a sheep, for which he was transported to Van Diemens Land.

An arts administrator, Anne Fisher, claimed a much more direct connection with Wales, having visited there in April and slipped off to the seaside village of Laugharne where a boathouse Thomas once occupied with his wife Caitlin has become a shrine.

Another member, John Notary, 82, a former television producer and conveyancer, has a connection to Thomas, having drunk with him in pubs in London. Mr Notary did not know his companion's identity at first, but a barmaid enlightened him and thereafter he was a Thomas devotee.

 

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF UNDER MILK WOOD

The most recent event of the DTSA was the performance of THE HIGHLIGHTS OF UNDER MILK WOOD on August 14.   Seven readers took part:  Clive Woosnam, Olwen Morris, Carey Lewis, Margaret Hughes, Diane Stanford, Paul Nicholas and Jan Penhorwood.  Clive began with memorised readings of the First Voice descriptions of the Bible Black town, fast - and slow- asleep, as well as of the Rev Eli Jenkins' morning prayer. There followed the fifteen best scenes in the play for voices, all carried out by a highly talented cast with authentic Welsh accents.  Not only were characters brought to life by the range of voices, depth of feeling and precision of timing, but we were also given a musical treat with Polly Garter's song (Olwen), Rosie Probert's poem (Diane) and the Evening Prayer, sung by the whole cast.   
 

CLIVE WOOSNAM:      First Voice, Rev Eli Jenkins, Mog Edwards, Mr Waldo, little boy                                                          

                                        
OLWEN MORRIS:         Polly Garter, Myfanwy Price, Lily Smalls, Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard, MrsDai Bread 2, 2nd woman, wife, child

                             
CAREY LEWIS:              Capt Cat, Mr Pugh, Mr Pritchard

 

MARGARET HUGHES:  Mrs Beynon, 1st woman, Mrs Dai Bread 1, Mary Ann the Sailors, 2ndneighbour, Mrs Organ Morgan,

                                                                                     

                                     Bessie Bighead

 

DIANE STANFORD:       2nd Voice, Rosie Probert, 4th woman

 

PAUL NICHOLAS:         Mr Ogmore, Mr Beynon, Willy Nilly, Organ Morgan, Utah Watkins

                                          

JAN PENHORWOOD:   Mrs Pugh, 1st neighbour, 3rd woman

A DVD was made of the performance.  Though the recording is not of a truly professional standard, it clearly shows the high quality of the acting and the enthusiastic response of the audience.  Please contact  9997 2019 if you would like a copy. Below are a few photos of the performanceOther photos may be viewed in the photo gallery on this website.

The evening was not without its problems.  One stage light had blown leaving Carey and Jan in an extended twilight; while the DVD player, which had been checked in advance, refused to produce both sound and picture simultaneously - not what might be expected in the Mechanics School of Arts!  The problems meant that we had to put on the intended first half of the show AFTER the live performance.  The fact that we were able to do even that was due to the intervention of Luke Butler, the Director of the new production of Under Milk Wood showing at the Australia Theatre for Young People at The Wharf in September.  Luke used his own laptop to bypass the computer in the AV system and stayed at the keyboard throughout the second half of the evening.  Thank you, Luke!

Clive used the DVDs were  to show the ways that Under Milk Wood has been treated in previous productions.  He also paid a tribute to Aeronwy Thomas-Ellis, Dylan's only daughter, who died recently from leukaemia.  A video interview with Aeronwy was also shown. As usual, the food and drink were amazing in both quantity and quality, and sincere thanks must be paid to Helen Woosnam's organisation of the catering and to the hard work of Kay and Noel Hardman.  In addition, Ian Lewis, Margaret McLachlan, Jan Penhorwood and Dorothy Horne gave vital help during the evening while Olwen Morris spent many hours assisting Helen in earlier preparation.  The evening was a great success despite the technical problems and showed once again the camaraderie of the DTSA.





Below is the flyer advertising the event.



THE DYLAN THOMAS SOCIETY OF AUSTRALIA

presents

 

Lower Fishguard which was Llareggub in the film Under Milk Wood

 

HIGHLIGHTS

of

UNDER MILK WOOD

 

Featuring live on stage members of the talented cast of the 2003 performance,

along with film and video excerpts of the play

 

 

The performance will follow Dylan’s original directions as a play for voices, not as a memorised play with sets. Authentic Welsh accents will be used.

 

            Held at the Mitchell Theatre, Sydney Mechanics School of Arts,

            Level 1, 280 Pitt Street (between Park and Bathurst Streets)

            on Friday, August 14, 2009 at 7.00pm (entry from 6.30)

 

The charge of $20 (members $15) covers wine and copious finger food

 

Please book at clivewoosnam@hotmail.com or phone 9997 2019

 

Keep abreast of DTSA events at www.nogoodboyoz.com  



CELEBRATION LUNCH AT THE MOSMAN CLUB NOVEMBER 7 2009  

Forty-nine members and guests attended the celebration lunch at the Mosman Club on November 7.  The views were glorious, we had the main dining room (The Harbour View Room) all to ourselves and most people seemed to enjoy the food on offer.  The speaker was one of our society's new members, Patrick Milligan, a man of many artistic skills and attainments.  He spoke to us about growing up with brother Spike, of Goon Show fame, and touched on some aspects of his varied life in art, journalism and the theatre.  His speech was very well received and he was bombarded with questions at its conclusion.




Six committee members enjoying a convivial end to 2009 meetings

 
EVENTS OF 2008  

THE 2008 AGM

 The 2008 AGM took place in same artistic surroundings that we enjoyed last year – the Julian Ashton School of Art at Georges Heights, Mosman.  The cooler weather made for perfect indoor conditions and the warmth of the barbecues was appreciated by chefs Noel and Clive.  Inside, Helen and Kay prepared an excellent meal, turning the occasion into a highly enjoyable social event.

 The meeting itself was very successful.  The one change in office bearers was the election of Gina as Secretary, replacing Helen who had filled the position most capably for eleven months but who had decided that her other roles within the Society were more than enough to keep her busy.  The unopposed nominations were Clive as President, Will as Vice-President, Kay as Treasurer and John as Public Officer.  From last year’s committee, we welcomed back Ann, Noel, Helen, Peter, Annie, Malcolm and Susannah.   Emyr Evans and Ian Lewis became our two new committee members.

 We discussed the forthcoming schedule for 2008 and set the dates for The Legend and The Poet night at Berkelouws Bookstore, Leichhardt, and for the Dylan’s Christmas in the Southern Highlands .  We explored options for later activities including the Annual Dinner, and set a new alternative three year subscription for members (See Committee/Events 2008 for details). 

 Paul Delprat, Principal of the Art School, briefly addressed the meeting, expressing the hope we would come again for the next AGM.  He, along with everyone else present, loudly applauded guest John Williams’ tenor solo of Eli Jenkins’ Evening Prayer to the tune of Troyte’s Chant.  John is a life member of the famous Morriston Orpheus Choir visiting Sydney from Swansea in Wales, home town of the choir and of Dylan Thomas.  Clive reminded everybody of two important meetings he attended on the same day: March 12, 1995 .  One meeting was the first reception for a Swansea choir ever held in Sydney, at which John marshalled the choristers and Clive was compere; the other was the actual formation of the Dylan Thomas Society of Australia .  The two organisations will be forever linked.

 

 

THE LEGEND AND POET EVENING
The 2008 Legend and Poet Night attracted 46 people, one of the largest audiences so far. The mood of enjoyment was set by the amazing food, prepared by Helen and Kay, and the copious wine dispensed by Noel. Poet's Corner wine was used, not just because it is so drinkable, but because Dylan Thomas is represented in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey, after Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the USA, took up his cause.


The theme for this year's event was Dylan Thomas: Gentleman of Leisure?  Clive researched and wrote the script examining Dylan's interests outside his professional realm of poetry in such areas as family life, sport, reading, films and travel as well as his more publicised exploits in pubs.  Helen acted as narrator, with the poems and prose passages read by Clive, Will, Elias, Emyr, Jenny, Annie, Dan and Noel.  In additon, we had two memorable recordings of Dylan reading and one of Richard Burton in action.

The poems were drawn not just from Dylan's works but also from those of Seamus Heaney, D H Lawrence, Geoffrey Lehmann, John Betjeman, John Keats, Thomas Hardy, James Stephens, Henry Newbolt, John Arlott, A E Housman, Robert Service and Theodore Roethke.  Prose passages included excerpts from Dylan's letters and short stories and from Caitlin's autobiography.  There were many moments of hilarity,as well as a few of sadness, but by the end of the evening the members of the audience knew a great deal more about the life and works of Dylan Thomas and about a broad range of other poems and writings. 


Clive and Helen addressing the group (photo by Annie Schlebaum - see photo gallery)

FIRST SESSION READINGS

 

1     FERN HILL by DYLAN THOMAS 

 

2    BLACKBERRY PICKING by SEAMUS HEANEY  

 

3    THE PIANO by DH LAWRENCE 

 

4    CAITLIN ON DYLAN’S WORKING DAY

   

5    PARENTHOOD by GEOFFREY LEHMANN  

 

6    TO MY SON AGED EIGHT by JOHN BETJEMAN

      (read on CD by DYLAN THOMAS)

 

7    THIS SIDE OF THE TRUTH by DYLAN THOMAS

 

8    EXCERPT from RETURN JOURNEY by DYLAN THOMAS

 

9    VERSES FROM KEATS on DRINKING

 

10  THE OLYMPIC GIRL by JOHN BETJEMAN

 

11   LIZBIE BROWN by THOMAS HARDY

      (read on CD by DYLAN THOMAS)

 

The readings will be linked by a script outlining Dylan’s leisure interests outside his professional world as a writer.  

Refreshments: Helen, Kay, Clive & Noel 
   
SECOND SESSION READINGS

 

1     DYLAN ON IRAN (extract from letter)

 

2    THE SHELL by JAMES STEPHENS

 

3    DYLAN TRAVELLING (extracts from 3 letters)

 

4     LETTER TO TOMMY EARP from ITALY

 

      5    THE JOHN ARLOTT LINK

    

      6    VITAI LAMPADA by SIR HENRY NEWBOLT

    

      7    TO AN ATHLETE DYING YOUNG

            by AE HOUSMAN

 

8    INTERNATIONAL EISTEDDFOD (extract)

      by DYLAN THOMAS

 

9    BOOKLOVER by ROBERT SERVICE

 

10  THE WAKING by THEODORE ROETHKE

 

      11   POEM IN OCTOBER by DYLAN THOMAS

            (read on cassette tape by RICHARD BURTON)

 

Script and program: Clive Woosnam

Narrator:  Helen Woosnam

Readers:  Clive, Will, Elias, Emyr, Dan, Jennifer, Annie

                      DYLAN'S ALPINE CHRISTMAS

Every odd year in the calendar we pay homage to Dylan by boarding the charabanc for 'The Outing' to Swansea, where Lake Macquarie meets the sea.  Every even year we recreate the magic of "A Child's Christmas in Wales' by heading to the Southern Highlands in search of snow, or at least cool, crisp weather and rural surroundings.

On June 22, 2008, 20 members of the society gathered in the atmospheric cafe at Berkelouws Book Barn, outside Berrima, for morning tea.  Two years ago we'd carried out some of our readings in the cafe, knowing that public speaking over lunch in the Burrawang Hotel was likely to be limited by the extraneous noise.   This year we had no such concerns.  After our chatty morning tea we drove down through Mittagong to Alpine where DTSA Secretary Gina Ryman, along with husband Bill, were playing host at their beautiful property, Balaton Park.  There our numbers rose to 27, and we had a microphone and sound system to use inside the house and on the lawn.

We took advantage of the near-perfect weather (snow was needed for perfection) by having drinks and a recital of 'A Child's Christmas' on the lawn before moving inside to tuck in to a big Christmas meal with all the trimmings.  We had Christmas decorations, a flaming Christmas pudding, and even a visit from an impressively realistic Santa Claus.  We had mass readings of Dylan stories set in the Swansea snow and Dylan's own voice on CD reading part of his poem, 'A Winter's Tale'.  Clive performed his version of Richard Burton's 'A Christmas Story', and then it was time for the Northerners to hit the motorway while the locals meandered their way home.  

Our thanks go to Gina and Bill for being perfect hosts and working so hard to make their beautiful house the ideal venue.  Thanks also to Helen, Joy, Kay and Noel for all their practical help with the food.  It was a great day!

Please see Photo Gallery for photos of the event.  Below is an abbreviated copy of the flyer we sent out.


 

COME AND BRIGHTEN UP THE BLEAK MIDWINTER WITH

A FESTIVE DYLAN THOMAS ALPINE CHRISTMAS

 


This photo was taken in 2004 with real snow and

snowmen to provide extra atmosphere

 

 

Date:                                  Sunday 22 June 2008

Time and Place:      a) 10.45am for 11.00 at Berkelouws Book Barn, Berrima

                                    b) 12.30pm at Gina & Bill’s house, Alpine

What’s on?              Our Dylan’s Alpine Christmas, with morning tea in the Book Barn café, and Christmas lunch at Gina & Bill’s, complete with Christmas decorations.  At both venues there’ll be readings of different works of Dylan concerning Christmas and snow, including, of course, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, as well as Richard Burton’s A Christmas Story.

Cost                        Lunch will be prepared for you and will cost $20.  Morning tea will not cost more than $10.  Please bring your own drinks to the lunch.

Getting There     It’s an easy drive to Alpine (just before Mittagong) and you can even go by rail, so we won’t use a bus.  Let us know if you’re coming by rail, and we’ll try to meet the train.

Booking                   We need to get an accurate count of numbers and early booking is essential as capacity at both venues is limited.  Please phone Clive Woosnam on 9992019 to book or email                                                 clivewoosnam@hotmail.com   

 

 

 

 

The Edge of Love

Over thirty members of the society and friends braved the worst weather of the year to watch the film at the Cremorne Orpheum.  Afterwards, 26 of the group dined at the nearby Golden Lion restaurant and compared notes on the movie.  Most agreed that the film was better than many reviewers had suggested but did no favours to Dylan's reputation.  Photos in the restaurant are in the picture gallery.  Below we have the original article on the film followed by the true story of what happened along with stills from the movie.

Original Article, followed by later items
The Edge of Love, the first feature film ever made on the life of Dylan Thomas, has been chosen to open the Edinburgh Film Festival on 18 June, three days before its general release in the UK.  Given the high profiles of cast members Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Cillian Murphy and Matthew Rhys, the movie is sure to attract a lot of publicity.  The script was written by Knightley’s mother, the Scottish playwright Sharman Macdonald, while a real-life granddaughter of Vera Killick (the part played by Knightley in the film) is co-producer.  The director is John Maybury, who won the Best British Picture award ten years ago at the same festival with Love is the Devil, starring Derek Jacobi and Daniel Craig. 

 

The artistic director of the Edinburgh Festival, Hannah McGill, claims that it is an “utterly seductive and fascinating film, which stars some of the most charismatic young performers in the business, and affirms John Maybury as one of our most important directors.”

 

21 August is the film’s release date in Australia .  To join our cinema group the following night (Fri 22 August)at the Cremorne Orpheum, please phone Clive Woosnam on 9997 2019.  The standard admission price is $16; Seniors $9.

To see a trailer of the film, please follow the link below:

 

http://www.cinematical.com/2008/05/15/trailer-for-keira-knightleys-the-edge-of-love/


Here is an article and appended comments made on the real life story behind the film and the departures from reality in the film. 

                THE TRUE STORY BEHIND THE FILM, THE EDGE OF LOVE   

 

The film, The Edge of Love, deals with the life of Dylan and Caitlin Thomas during the Second World War, and concentrates especially on their stay in New Quay, on the west coast of Wales, in 1945.  Having not yet seen the film, I do not know how closely the script, by Sharman Macdonald, sticks to reality, but I think it worthwhile for DTSA members to know the true facts, as far as we can tell from contemporary records and biographical reports.  John Maybury, the director of the film, has been at pains to point out that, though the film story is based on real happenings, it has been embellished for the screen and is not meant to be historically accurate.  It may well be that, on seeing the film, DTSA members will believe some of the concocted events are true while discarding the real happenings as film fantasies.  The true story is certainly bizarre and somewhat convoluted, and some of the real-life characters are stranger than authors normally dare to invent.

 

During the war, Dylan and Caitlin lived in many places.  West Wales appealed as being cheap, safe from bombing, and helpful for Dylan’s creative processes, but he had to spend a good deal of time in London and other places in his work as a film scriptwriter.  Sometimes Caitlin accompanied him; sometimes she stayed in Wales, especially after their daughter Aeronwy was born in March 1943. Their eldest son, Llewelyn, spent most of the war with Caitlin’s mother in Hampshire, while their youngest child, Colm (who attended one of our DTSA meetings) was not born until after the war.  While in London, Dylan met a childhood friend, Vera Phillips.  They had both attended Mrs Hole’s ‘dame’ school in Mirador Crescent in Swansea and their friendship had increased in the days of the ‘Kardomah gang’ when Vera and her elder sister Evelyn had been fringe members of that coffee shop intellectual group. Dylan had often visited their house in Bryn-y-Mor Crescent, the street in which his elocution teacher lived, but the contact faded after Dylan left Swansea.

 

When Dylan and Vera met in London she had studied interior design at Chelsea Polytechnic, and was working whenever possible in the theatre and the rest of the time as a waitress in a local restaurant.  Dylan and Caitlin became close friends of hers, and shared her London flat for a time. Vera is reported as saying, “I had more fun with Dylan, and with Catty too, than with anyone else, before or since”.

 

In 1940 Vera met William Killick, an Old Harrovian officer in the Royal Engineers.  When she married him in August 1943, Dylan acted as Best Man.  William was later seconded as a commando captain in the Special Operations Executive, and was sent overseas to work on a very dangerous mission behind the enemy lines in Greece.  While he was away, Dylan and Caitlin stayed several times in West Wales with Vera, and in 1945 they rented a small fibro cottage on a cliff top near New Quay.  The cottage was called Majoda, after the owner’s three children, Marjorie, John and David; Dylan threatened to re-christen it Catllewdylaer, a name more in keeping with Ffynnonfeddyg, William and Vera’s house next door.  Majoda was a primitive house, with no electricity or proper bathroom, using calor gas and paraffin for heating and lighting, but Caitlin was happy to invite well-to-do London friends to stay with them there. 

 

One such guest was the beautiful Mary Keene who, though disabled, was model, muse or mistress to famous artists and writers such as Louis MacNeice. She and Caitlin were in the house one evening with their baby daughters while Dylan went into New Quay with two editors from Gryphon Films, the company he worked for in London.  They were film director John Eldridge and assistant Fanya Fisher, a Russian Jew.  Dylan took them to The Commercial Hotel where William Killick was drinking.  Back on leave after surviving the rigours of the military operation in Greece, Killick was angry with Dylan.  He disliked the way Dylan had been able to avoid military service and his off-hand attitude to the war.  He disliked the fact that Dylan seemed to treat him as being less important than the London visitors.  He also was annoyed to discover that Vera had been spending his hard-earned money subsidising Dylan and Caitlin’s drinking. Caitlin herself had a poor opinion of William’s drinking habits, nicknaming him ‘Drunken Waistcoat’, but she conceded that he was right in thinking his money was being drunk by his next door neighbours.  She also believed that Killick felt that Vera was living in a ‘menage-a-trois’ with Dylan and Caitlin, but that, she stated, was ‘a ridiculous thought’.   An argument developed in the Commercial Hotel, so Dylan and his friends moved back to the Black Lion Hotel, where Eldridge and Fisher were staying.  Killick followed, making a disparaging remark about Jews to Fanya Fisher, resulting in blows being exchanged and the group throwing Killick out of the pub.    Dylan was driven home by another larger-than-life character, Alastair Graham, who had been a former lover of Evelyn Waugh and Lord Tredegar, and was the model for Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead Revisited.

 

When Dylan and Graham returned to Majoda, he took bottled beer to share with Caitlin and Mary and two other male guests.  Forty minutes later their jollity was dispelled by a hail of Sten gun fire; William Killick fired at least fourteen bullets from outside the house, then entered and fired at least five more. Fortunately, most of the shots were fired into the air or the ceiling, but two went through the scullery window and several through partitions within the house. With five adults and two children in a tiny house with flimsy walls, someone could easily have been hit.  Improbable as it seems, it was Dylan himself who is reported to have taken the gun from Killick, but he returned it when Killick then produced a hand grenade (later found to be without a detonator).  Eventually the commando was pacified, and the matter might have ended there had the police not been called by neighbours hearing the shooting.  Killick had to stand trial on attempted murder, but with the support of the SOE he was acquitted.  Dylan, Caitlin and friends did not attempt to make a strong case against him, and his war record and the stress he was under worked in his favour. 

 

Vernon Watkins wrote to Killick to assure him that Dylan believed he was innocent of the attempted murder charge, but Dylan’s letters to Vernon show that the experience left him very jittery.

“…It’s all very nasty, and I’m as frightened as if I’d used the Sten gun myself…Caitlin and I go to bed under the bed.”

 

Clive Woosnam

July 2008


A FEW THOUGHTS AFTER SEEING THE FILM

 

                                            THE EDGE OF LOVE or THE SCALPEL OF THE CINEMA

 

Most of the members who attended the showing of The Edge of Love at Cremorne enjoyed the movie, but felt that Dylan was harshly treated.  It may have been more a scalpel operation than a hatchet job, but it created an image of a man who had very little going for him. Why this was done I cannot say, as it reduced the realism and logic of the story.  Newspaper film critics wondered why two such attractive females as were portrayed in the film should compete for Dylan’s affection, and found that his lack of positive attributes undermined the plot. The distortion of reality was  particularly marked at the end of the film in the courtroom scenes.  The writer, producer and director were interested in showing how a dispute between two men could end in forcing apart two women who were the best of friends, and the film bent the facts to make their point.  Here are a few realities that were misrepresented in the film:

 

1   In the film, Dylan was responsible for reporting the shooting to the police the day after the event.  The truth is that it was reported by neighbours at the time of the event.

 

2.  In the film, Dylan said in court that William Killick had tried to kill him and his friends.  In reality, Dylan and Caitlin watered down their evidence so that William would not be convicted.

 

3.  In real life, the judge instructed the jury to find William not guilty, whereas in the film he was disappointed with the not guilty verdict.

 

4.  According to eye-witness reports, Dylan was the person who disarmed William. In the real court case, Dylan claimed that William voluntarily laid down his sten gun, to show that he was not intent on killing anyone.  In the film, Dylan trembled in fright when faced by William in the Majoda bungalow.

 

5.  In the film, Vera tried to stop the shooting and was knocked to the ground by William.  In reality, Vera and her baby were staying with her mother that night, and weren’t anywhere near the shooting.

 

6.  The wrong adults were in Majoda at the time of the shooting.  (John Eldridge and Fanya Fisher – or ‘Anita’ as she was in the film - were at their hotel in town).

 

7.  It seemed as though the wrong child was in the house – it should have been Aeronwy, not Llewelyn.

 

8.  Vera actually met William in 1940, three years before they married.

 

9.  Of course, the main inaccuracy is that there is no evidence that Vera had an affair with Dylan.  Vera denied it, and it is hard to believe that Caitlin, whose ferocious jealousy was widely known, would have continued her friendship with Vera if there had been an affair.  She was dismissive of the idea.

 

10. Caitlin had many abortions (not all when she was married to Dylan), but there is no evidence she had one while staying in New Quay, or that Vera paid for it..

 

11.  The initial argument in the pub turned into physical violence when William made an anti-Semitic remark to the Jewish secretary.  This did not appear in the film.

 

Of course, the factual inaccuracies do not invalidate the film as a work of art, but there’s no doubt that the film played down Caitlin’s shortcomings whilst over-emphasising Dylan’s.  No one doubts that Dylan had many weaknesses, notably womanising, drinking and smoking too much, neglecting his children and cadging, but Caitlin’s character defects ran even deeper. 

 

The film even tries to reduce Dylan’s stature as a poet..  While living at New Quay, Dylan wrote part or all of a number of famous poems, including the lyrical Fern Hill, A Refusal to Mourn…, A Winter’s Tale, Conversation of Prayers and This Side of the Truth. He also wrote the evocative and witty story Quite Early One Morning, the precursor to Under Milk Wood.  However, in the film the only New Quay poem he is heard reciting is In My Craft or Sullen Art.  The other poems that feature in the film are Love in the Asylum (written four years earlier, and not as a response to Vera departing) and Lament., which was written six years later, in 1951.  This is particularly revealing, as Lament is totally out of character with Dylan’s other poems, which are all very serious.  Lament is more of a bawdy ballad, and fits well with the coarse limericks that the script writer invents for Dylan in the early part of the film.  The impression is given of a man who played at being a poet because it freed him from convention and allowed him to ‘feed off life’.  The script is determined to distort reality and paint Dylan in the worst possible light.

 

I suppose there’s nothing new in this - critics have been doing it for decades – but they don’t normally invent incidents to suit their characterisation.  It is one thing to condense the time scale or change the location of an event; it is another to manipulate the facts to create the fictional image required.  If the plot is fictional, the characters should not be real people who behaved in a different manner from their screen reincarnations.

 

I once gave a talk to the DTSA titled The Vilification of Dylan Thomas.  Now I have a new section to add to the essay.

 

Clive Woosnam

September 2008

Postscript, November 2008

The film has now been made into a DVD and the DTSA already has a copy.  The film purports to be based on the book, Dylan Thomas: A Farm, Two Mansions and a Bungalow by David Thomas, but the author, in an email to me, stated:

The film is 98% fiction, and my first reaction to it was: why did they bother to buy the film rights from me when they ignored what was in the book. My second was that they would not have dared make it if DT were alive - he could have sued them. Your paper listing the errors is accurate, and there were lots of others eg New Quay has never had a railway station, Vera's first child was a girl, not a boy, called Rachel who is alive and well in Cambridge, Vera probably didn't have a Welsh accent because I believe she went to elocution lessons......

(David Thomas has written a dramatic new book on Dylan's death: Fatal Neglect: Who Killed Dylan Thomas? is published by Seren on November 9 2008, the 55th anniversary of the death. £9.99, ISBN 978-1-85411-480-8)

 

FILM NIGHT HELD ON 26 SEPTEMBER

The main feature of this year's film night were two remarkable interviews of Caitlin Thomas by famous Welsh TV presenter Vincent Kane.  The interviews were made over 30 years ago and then lost.  They are particularly interesting in the light of the portrait of Caitlin given in the film, The Edge of Love. The interviews would, no doubt, have been widely shown in 2003, the 50th anniversary of Dylan's death, had they been available.

The other main item was a new DVD version of The Kardomah Boys, a re-creation of the highly talented group of young writers, musicians and artists which included Dylan, Daniel Jones and Fred Janes. 

As usual, there was a feast of great food and plenty of wine and soft drink to ensure the success of the evening.
Here is the flyer advertising the evening:


THE DYLAN THOMAS SOCIETY OF
AUSTRALIA

 

presents

 

A SPECIAL FILM NIGHT

 

Caitlin and Dylan with baby Llewelyn

 

Featuring short films and film clips linked to Dylan.

                             Of particular importance is the brilliant interview with

Caitlin filmed 30 years ago and recently re-discovered.

 

          Date: Friday 26 September                         Time: 7.00pm

        Place: Mitchell Theatre, Sydney Mechanics School of Arts,

        Level 1, 280 Pitt Street (between Bathurst and Park Streets)

 

The charge of $15 (members $12) covers wine, soft drink & finger food

  Enjoy a great social and educational night in impressive surroundings.

 

     Please book at clivewoosnam@hotmail.com or phone 99972019

 

        Keep abreast of DTSA events at www.nogoodboyoz.com

ANNUAL CELEBRATORY MEAL
The annual celabratory meal was held this year as a lunch on 9 November, the exact 55th anniversary of Dylan's death.  We tried out a new venue for the occasion: the Horizons Grill at the Mosman Club, with its expansive views and lovely atmosphere.  Many stalwarts were unavailable, but the 32 people who came seemed to enjoy themselves thoroughly.  The main speaker was Neville Thomas, the vice-president of the Vancouver Dylan Thomas Circle, an organisation that was born in response to the formation of our society in 1995.

Photos of the lunch may be found in the Photo Gallery.

Below is an abbreviated version of the flyer used to advertise the event.

 

 

       FIFTY FIVE YEARS LATER: A CELEBRATION OF DYLAN’S LIFE

 

“The wonderful sunlight there, the hills, the great bridges, the Pacific at your shoes.  Beautiful Chinatown.  Every race in the world.  The lobsters, clams & crabs.  Oh Cat, what food for you.  Every kind of seafood there is.  The city is built on hills; it dances in the sun for nine months of the year; & the Pacific Ocean never runs dry.  And all the people are open and friendly .”                                                                                                Dylan Thomas, April, 1950

 

OK – so he was writing to Caitlin about San Francisco , but we all know how much Dylan would have liked Sydney.  And we can celebrate his life and works while we enjoy a beautiful lunch with glimpses from the ocean to the harbour.

 

                    PUT THE DETAILS IN YOUR DIARY OR ON YOUR CALENDAR NOW!

 

 

Time & Date:   12  for 12.30, Sunday 9 November 2008   (the exact 55th anniversary of his death)

 

Place:                Horizons Terrace Grill, top floor of the Mosman Club, 719 Military Road , Mosman

 

Menu:               Go to http://www.mosmanclub.com.au/page/horizons_grill.htm   for details

 

Cost:                 Prices of food and wine are good; you choose from the menu and pay individually

 

Replies:             Please email clivewoosnam@hotmail.com or leave a message on 99972019

 

 

 

    IT’S THE LAST EVENT OF THE YEAR –  LET’S MAKE SURE IT’S THE BIGGEST!