2015 ACTIVITIES                                                     

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                                        DTSA EVENTS FOR 2015

Sun 1 Feb       12.00pm lunch; 1.30pm (approx) AGM at Zabou Lounge, 99-on-York, City

Sun 12 Apr      1.00pm food;  2.00pm Legend and Poet afternoon, Headland Park, Mosman

Thu 14 May                             Dylan Thomas Day

Sun 5 Jul        8.45am onward: 'The Outing' by charabanc (with Dylan DVDs) to Swansea etc

Sat 15 Aug      2.00pm: Bob Kingdom in 'Return Journey' at the Riverside Theatre, Parramatta

Sun 27 Sep      12.00pm lunch; 1.30 Dylan's Centenary Films, Zabou Lounge & Red Room, 99-on-York

Sun 6 Dec       CHRISTMAS LUNCH CANCELLED AS CLUB WILL NOT HONOUR OUR AGREEMENT


 
                                                                                          RETURN JOURNEY 
 
On 15 August twenty-one DTSA members attended a performance of Bob Kingdom's one-man show on Dylan Thomas, Return Journey.  It was indeed a return journey for Bob Kingdom, as he had previously brought his show to the Seymour Centre some twenty-three years ago, before the DTSA was born.  A number of our contingent saw that original production, and knew what to expect on this occasion.  The selection of poems and short stories had changed somewhat, and Bob Kingdom had aged a great deal in appearance,  Fortunately, however, his imposing voice remained, and his memory seemed flawless throughout the performance.  Occasionally a line might be missed, but it was more likely to have been edited out rather than forgotten.
 
Return Journey, Dylan's search for his younger self in the snowy wasteland of blitzed Swansea, was only a small part of the program.  Most of Dylan's best-known poems were included, as well as a few rarely heard such as Lament.  In a sense it is strange that a program on Dylan's life and work should omit his two best known non-poetic works, Under Milk Wood and A Child's Christmas in Wales, but there is plenty of other high quality writing to absorb.  To fit a wide variety of material into a single performance requires the further shortening of the so-called short stories.  I was intrigued by Kingdom's choice of what to include and what to leave out, which is very different from the selection I make, but which works very well for him.
 
               
                                                                               Bob Kingdom as Dylan Thomas
 
Kingdom linked the poems and stories with a minimum of fuss, using or paraphrasing Dylan's own words to create a narrative on his life.  Occasionally, he delved into Dylan's wonderfully descriptive letters to add more personal touches.  There was no set and no background slides or video, but the Rafferty Theatre at Riverside is intimate in scale.  Everything focused on the small man with the big voice, and he was equal to the challenge.  Dylan's works are full of Biblical allusions and vocabulary, so it is indeed apt that along with Kingdom we got the power and the glory.   Amen.
 
                
                                          Bob Kingdom, centre, with ten members of the DTSA following his performance
 
                                                                                                     ADVENTURES IN THE SKIN TRADE
 
Adventures in the Skin Trade at the Sydney Opera House was originally intended as a production just for school groups ,  I made enquiries last year and got no information at all; later, in January this year I was approached by the education team at the Opera House, seeking the cooperation of the DTSA and the Sydney Welsh Choir in showcasing the production.  There was talk of a possible public performance or two, but nothing eventuated and the production was listed as schools only until quite recently.
 
The information that there were to be four performances for adult audiences came too late for the DTSA to round up a large contingent of audience members,  Another consideration in the reluctance of members to attend may have been the fact that this was not a Dylan Thomas script but an adaptation for the stage of the three chapters he had written of his unfinished novel - chapters which his publishers had rejected..  
 
In the event, the play turned out to be a genuine success.  Given that the original Dylan Thomas chapters had very little storyline, I had expected the playwright, Lucy Gough, to add further developments to the plot - perhaps Sam Bennet, the central figure, would press on in his search for Lucille Harris - but the play turned out to have no extra storyline or extra characters.  Except for the 'harpies'. a clever theatrical device that greatly increased the dramatic nature of the play, the script stuck closely to the dialogue of Dylan's chapters and kept the same limited plot.  This turned out to be much more successful on the stage than on the printed page.  
 
In Dylan's chapters, the one wholely successful scene was between Sam and Polly in the bathroom.  This translated beautifully to the stage, with the addition of the fearsome cries of the caged birds.  This scene had a particularly surreal brand of humour that was bound to work, but what impressed me was the humour that suffused the rest of the action.  I hadn't appreciated the potential for the play to be an example of the Theatre of the Absurd, along the lines of Ionesco, Pinter and Beckett, but this is what it turned out to be.  The beer bottle stuck on the finger seemed an infantile running joke in the failed novel,  but was a key visual element in the humour of the stage performance.
 
The production was by the Welsh group, Theatr Iolo.  The director, Kevin Lewis, a veteran of the company, did an excellent job in keeping the action moving and integrating the dialogue of the main characters with the interjections of the harpies, who very often voiced Sam Bennet's unspoken thoughts.  Ben McGregor (from Pontypridd, despite his name) imbued Sam with an air of innocence and desirability and was a strong central figure.  The other five actors played fifteen parts between them, and did so without any confusion. Steven Elliott was particularly impressive in his role of the excitable George Ring, as was Jenny Livsey as a manipulative Mrs Dacey.  Richard Nichols created a nicely confused Mr Allingham, Ceri Elen made a suitably attractive and mysterious Polly while Louise Collins played all her parts well and was probably the dominant harpy.
 
                                                       Steven Elliott, Kevin Lewis, Ben McGregor, Ceri Elen, Jenny Livsey, Louise Collins with DTSA members
                                                                                  Clive Woosnam (finger caught in bottle) and Annie Schlebaum
 
The set was a clever conception to encompass so many different locations.  It was particularly successful in suggesting the mountain of furniture in Mr Allingham's rooms, and here extra credit must go to movement director Jem Treays who presumably schooled the cast in wriggling through and climbing over the various obstacles.   My only minor criticism would be that the occasional sound track contributed little except competition with the actors' words.
 
It was so good to see a successful production which took the words and concepts of Dylan Thomas and used them in a way far better than in his original would-be novel.
 
Clive Woosnam  
August 2015
 
                                                                                                                   THE OUTING 2015 
 
The 2013 Outing was famous for the wonderful success of the day in the face of the forecast deluge.  This year, 2015, we had perfect weather which made for a memorable excursion.  Our first stop was at Doylo's (Doyalson's luxurious RSL Club) where we had arranged for tea, coffee and biscuits to be ready for us so there was none of the normal queuing.  It was a great opportunity for DTSA members and guests to chat and get to know each other, and for earlier acquaintanceships to be further cemented. This is the place, too, where Clive always recites The Outing so everyone knows what the day is about. 
 
                                                                                Most of the members gather near the breakwater in Swansea to read some poems together
 
From there we travelled on to Swansea RSL Club.  We weren't able to get the upstairs restaurant as our lunch venue but we enjoyed beautiful food from the Bistro and then sat around the water's edge near the breakwater, collectively reading aloud relevant sand, water and sea-bird poems and descriptions from Dylan's work..  After that we moved on to Caves Beach.  Clive recited Holiday Memory at the lookout above the beach, then the group split.  Helen took the smaller, less mobile section at the lookout, reading Extraordinary Little Cough, while Clive took the stair-climbers down to the beach, onto the rock platform and into the main cave for the same reading and a poem or two.
 
                                                                                                        Clive recites Holiday Memory at the lookout above Caves Beach
 
The last stop, as usual was Catho's - the Wallarah Pub - now 140 years old and very distinctive.  Then it was back on the charabanc for the trip home.  The coach's sound system was underpowered and made one of our main DVDs difficult to hear, but the 2014 BBC version of Under Milk Wood with its all-star cast was a big hit.
 
                                                                                   Members surrender to the echo of Dylan's words in the cave
 
 
 
 
 
The first DYLAN THOMAS DAY ( May 14) took place on a Thursday.  We asked DTSA members for suggestions on events we could stage, but drew a blank.  Emyr suggested we hold another lunch at the aptly named Boat house restaurant at Balmoral, so that is what we did.  In the event, only six of us were there: Helen, Clive, Kay & Noel Hardman and Jane & Rob Horlin.  The weather was gorgeous, the setting perfect and the food was excellent.  Dylan would have loved it: sand, birds, water, good company and plenty to eat and drink.  The photo shows all six of us after the lunch, along with our brand new dalmatian, Ozzie.
 

 

                                                      



THE LEGEND & POET AFTERNOON

Every year the Legend & Poet afternoon is acclaimed as one of the greatest ever, but this year's event drew more accolades than any of its predecessors. For the first time, we had a musical element to the proceedings, through the voice of Di Stanford, who has performed in singing and non-singing roles in DTSA shows in the past.  With her were regular favourites Greg Bell and Rob Horlin, our host Paul Delprat and, of course, Helen and Clive Woosnam. 

The Legend and Poet readings began at 2.00pm.  The food and wine were meant to be served from 1.00pm but the early-birds arrived well before that and were soon tucking in to a typically superb spread, produced by Helen with contributions from Kay, Jane and Jacqueline and extra assistance from Helen R and Rosemary.  Clive brought the wine and soft drink and Noel did the serving.


                                                      The first instalment of the wonderful selection of food

We had a capacity audience at the cosy venue, and host Paul Delprat made us feel very welcome.  He gave the first reading, Shakespeare's Sonnet 18, after Clive had welcomed the audience and Helen, as narrator, had introduced this year's topic, Dylan and Women.


                                                   The audience listens as Clive performs

Greg Bell impressed everyone with readings from Dylan's letters to Pamela Hansford Johnson, poems such as The Shot by Ted Hughes, and Dylan's After The Funeral.  


                                                       Helen and Paul  seem to be enjoying Greg's performance

Helen detailed Dylan's dealings with specific women, from his mother, Florence, and his Aunt Annie, to his literary girlfriend, Pamela, his wife, Caitlin, his patron, Margaret, and his American girlfriend, Pearl.  She even mentioned Dylan's favourite pop singer, Lena Horne, and to bring her music to life we had Di Stanford to sing Someone to Watch over Me.


                                          
Di sings Someone to Watch Over Me - just what Dylan needed

Rob Horlin also moved the audience, especially with Sylvia Plath's poem, Mad Girl's Love Song.

                                 
                                                         Rob Horlin makes an impact

As usual, Dylan's inimitable voice was heard in several poems recorded on CD: one by his good friend John Betjeman and two by his favourite, Thomas Hardy.  Clive also introduced some humour with a second Betjeman poem and one by Ogden Nash.  He also read two letters from Dylan - one to Caitlin and one to Pearl.  The program ended with Di singing Rosie Probert's poem from Under Milk Wood, set to music, with Clive as Captain Cat.  

                               
                                                                             Helen acting as compere

As an epilogue, we celebrated the centenary of Anzac and the centenary of the famous poem, In Flanders Fields, with Clive reciting it.




THE 2015 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING AND LUNCH

The 2015 AGM was preceded by lunch, switched from the Zabou Lounge in 99-on-York to the imposing Red Room.  The lunch turned out to a be an AGM of a different kind - Another Great Meal, or more certainly, great value.  There was plenty of opportunity for members to catch up on events over the Christmas period, and there was a genuine buzz of contented conversation.  We had a large number of apologies - 25 - but still had 45 members in attendance, equalling last year's record.

        
Kath & David Kelly- the photographer photographed!       Dick Evans - a colourful character                         Howard & Pamela Houliston

Clive went over the events of last year, undoubtedly the busiest in the society's short history, and laid out the program for 2015.  The president's report is attached to the end of this article and is quite short; more detailed coverage of last year's events may be found on page 3 of this website, and in the November issue of Down Under Milk Wood.   The members thanked Helen for her work as editor of that publication, while Kay and Olwen were applauded for their work as treasurer and secretary respectively. Clive was thanked for his efforts as president, and he and Helen received a special commendation from Virginia Hastings for the organisation and leadership of the centenary tour.  The gathering wished Will Christie, former DTSA president and vice-president, every success in his new position at ANU in Canberra,  and thanked him for the kind dedication of his new book on Dylan Thomas to our society.  The chapter written by Clive in Hannah Ellis's Centenary book on Dylan was also well received.

The office-bearers and general committee members for 2015 were all elected unopposed.  They are as follows:
President: Clive Woosnam;      Vice-president: Emyr Evans;       Secretary: Louis Van Ekert;       Treasurer: Kay Hardman;  general committee members: Malcolm Brown, Noel Hardman, Rob & Jane Horlin, Jennifer Jenkins, Bill & Jacqui King, Rob Meredith, Annie Schlebaum, Wendy Walker, Helen Woosnam.       

The meeting was a pleasurable and efficient start to the new year.  There are many interesting events in store, and we look forward to a good response from all our members.

             
                   The new committee:  standing (L-R) Louis Van Ekert, Robert Meredith, Clive Woosnam,
                   Malcolm Brown, Noel Hardman, Robert Horlin, Jane Horlin, Emyr Evans: seated (L-R) Jennifer
                   Jenkins, Helen Woosnam, Kay Hardman, Wendy Walker.  Absent from photo:  Jacqueline and 
                   Bill King, Annie Schlebaum