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The Language Of Heaven

the language of heaven -llun ©keith morris

DYFED THOMAS as Caradoc Evans in THE LANGUAGE OF HEAVEN (a Dalier Sylw / Theatr Clwyd production)

Cyfarwyddwr / Director: BETHAN JONES

Cynllun / Design: LLOYD LLEWELYN JONES / STEVEN JAMES DENTON

Cast: DYFED THOMAS (Caradoc) / IAN ROWLANDS (Gwalia) / JULIE HIGGINSON (Gloria) / JONATHAN NEFYDD (Various, e.g. WJ Gruffudd) / LINDA OWEN JONES (Various, e.g. Marie Lloyd)

Synopsis: 
Hanner can mlynedd wedi ei farwolaeth mae Caradoc Evans mewn Limbo yn aros i glywed beth fydd tynged ei enaid - a fydd e'n mynd i'r Nefoedd neu i'r Lle Arall!
Mae Gwalia (Ysbryd Cymru) yn deisebu Gloria in Excelsis - Angel sy'n gyfrifol am y DSS (Department of Soul Saving) - ar rhan yr erlyniad. Mae'r tystion ar rhan yr amddifyniad yn cynnwys Marie Lloyd a WJ Gruffudd; mae'r tystion ar rhan yr erlyniad yn cynnwys David Lloyd George a DJ Williams a llawer mwy. Y 'Singometer' fydd yn penderfynu ei ffawd.

Fifty years after his death Caradoc Evans (The Best Hated Man In Wales) is in Limbo awaiting a decision on the fate of his eternal soul - will it be Heaven or The Other Place!
Gloria in Excelsis - an Angel in charge of the DSS (Department of Soul Saving) is petitioned by Gwalia (the Spirit of Wales) for the prosecution. Witnesses for the defence include music hall artiste Marie Lloyd and WJ Gruffudd; witnesses for the prosecution include David Lloyd George and DJ Williams and many many more.

"Y MAE'N GYNHYRCHIAD HAWDD EI FWYNHAU; YN SYMUD YN LLYFN AC YN HWYLUS GAN GADW DIDDORDEB Y GYNULLEIDFA GYDOL YR AMSER AC O YSTYRIED YR ANAWSTERAU A WYNEBAI Y MAE'R CWMNI I'W LONGYFARCH AM ENNYN CYDYMDEIMLAD A CHYMERIAD A OEDD YN DDIGON ANNELWIG YN EU MEDDYLIAU"
GLYN EVANS, Y CYMRO (Tachwedd 1995)

"Uniongyrchedd y drafodaeth ar y Cymry yng nghyd-destun eu hanes eu hunain oedd cryfder mawr The Language of Heaven: roedd yn ddrama (Saesneg) i godi dadl, ac yn mynnu bod barn y gynulleidfa ar y pwnc yn fater o bwys - ar ei gorau, codai gwestiynau sylfaenol ynglyn â dilysrwydd ein perspectif hanesyddol a chymdeithasol, a'r graddau y dallwyd y Cymry gan hunan-fytholeg." (ROGER OWEN, BARN)

"Yn y Theatr Gymraeg, y cynhyrchiad a roddodd fwya' o bleser i mi oedd un Cwmni Dalier Sylw o The Language of Heaven gan Geraint Lewis. O ran cynnwys a chyflwyniad, roedd hi'n feiddgar iawn, ac yn ymestyn ffiniau y ddrama Gymraeg." (GARETH MILES, GOLWG, Nadolig 1995)


REVIEW (Swithin Fry, WESTERN MAIL)
Fifty years after his death, writer and dandy Caradoc Evans is in the celestial dock of Limbo waiting the verdict from the jury, us, the audience.
Will it be Heaven or Hell? Geraint Lewis's second play for Dalier Sylw is an ambitious biopic that works, considering its scope, surprisingly well.
Caradoc shamed his country-men into facing their inhumanity. The bigoted establishment hit back with spite, brutally and ignorantly clutching at the only stick they shared with Caradoc - their birth, their Welshness.
Gwalia, the spirit of Wales, astutely played by Ian Rowlands, accuses him of betrayal; traitor to Wales! Caradoc's eloquent writings were seized and destroyed, the irony being that his genius was acclaimed by the English.
Language of Heaven, the first of Dalier Sylw's plays for non-Welsh speaking audiences, is a co-production with Theatr Clwyd. Both companies are famous for their original style and the whole production, costumes, masks and set, lives up to the reputation.
The subject is treated not exactly with comedy, but with a humour and lightness which are eerily thought provoking.
Jonathan Nefydd masterfully tackles 11 diverse characters and as the 'historian', exposes the subtle, political exploitation of contemporary life as being little changed from Caradoc's time. Only the chief villains have changed.
The trial is presided over by Julia Higginson as the angel Gloria, more concerned with cream cakes than right or wrong.
The play and players work splendidly in every way, especially in width, tackling a potted life history of one of Wales's most honest writers with an honest statement about our common human predicament.
For a company formed as a Welsh language advocate this is a daring  production, even for modern, liberated Wales.
As to the ultimate fate of Caradoc Evans, to be in the jury, you have to be in the audience.

RHAGOLWG (Menna Baines, BARN)
CARADOC YN Y DOC
"The best hated man in Wales" meddai rhywun am Caradoc Evans, y llenor a elwir yn dad y traddodiad llenyddol modern o sgrifennu yn Saesneg am Gymru. A hithau'n hanner canmlwyddiant ei farw, dyma'r dyn sydd ar brawf yng nghynyrchiad newydd Dalier Sylw, sydd ar daith y mis hwn. Bu MENNA BAINES yn holi awdur y ddrama, Geraint Lewis.

Gwaharddwyd a llosgwyd ei lyfrau, difrodwyd portread ohono, bu'n rhaid cael heddlu i'w amddiffyn rhag ymosodiadau mewn darlithoedd cyhoeddus a cheiswyd atal perfformiadau o'i ddrama. Do, bu'n rhaid i Caradoc Evans dalu am wawdio'i gyd-Gymry mewn print, ond er gwaethaf, neu efallai oherwydd ei fustl fe sicrhaodd le iddo'i hun yn ein traddodiad llenyddol, fel yr awdur cyntaf o bwys i sgrifennu'n greadigol am Gymru yn Saesneg.
Pan ddaeth Dalier Sylw ato gyda'r syniad o wneud drama am Caradoc Evans, rhyw syniad annelwig oedd gan Geraint ewis am y dyn, er ei fod, fel Caradoc ei hun, yn hanu o Geredigion. Roedd ganddo frith gof o ddarllen stori o'i waith mewn Saesneg rhyfedd ac roedd honno wedi cadarnhau'r ddelwedd oedd ganddo o'r dyn fel gelyn anghymodlon i'r diwylliant Cymraeg anghydffurfiol. Fisoedd o ymchwil yn ddiweddarach, mae'n gyndyn o ddefnyddio'r gair arwr am wrthrych ei ddrama newydd, ond yn fodlon cyfaddef iddo gael agoriad llygad. Ei fwriad yn The Language of Heaven, fydd yn Saesneg ond gyda dogn o iaith y nefoedd hefyd, yw dangos bod Caradoc Evans yn greadur tipyn mwy cymhleth a diddorol na'i ddelwedd.
"Mae'n wir iddo fynd dros ben llestri, yn ei nofelau a'i straeon, yn ei bortread o'r gymdeithas gapelog, a'r hyn yr oedd e'n ei weld fel rhagrith ac ariangarwch y gymdeithas honno.
Roedd e'n methu gweld bod anghydffurfiaeth wedi cynnal pobl a diwylliant hefyd. Ac eto roedd e'n mynd i'r capel ei hun, ac yn licio canu 'Pererin Wyf' wrth fynd rownd y tafarndai yn Llundain, lle roedd e'n newyddiadurwr. Doedd e ddim yn ymchwilydd trwyadl, a doedd ystyriaethau gwleidyddol a hanesyddol yn cael fawr o le yn ei bortread e o'r gymdeithas wledig, amaethyddol - er enghraifft does dim sôn am y math o arwriaeth yr oedd y ffermwyr wedi'i ddangos adeg Terfysgoedd Beca. Ond roedd e'n gwybod y byddai bod yn eithafol yn cael mwy o effaith na chwarae'n saff. Yn ei eiriau ef ei hunan, 'I'm a satirist - satirists deal in extremities'."
Gan fod y dyn ei hun yn eithafol, roedd ar Dalier Sylw eisiau drama eithafol mewn arddull eithafol. Penderfynodd Geraint Lewis felly osod Caradoc Evans rhwng nefoedd ac uffern, mewn achos llys sy'n ceisio penderfynu i ba un o'r ddau le yr aiff ei enaid. Y farnwraig yw angel o'r enw Gloria in Excelsis, cymeriad niwrotig o'r enw Gwalia sy'n cyflwyno achos yr erlyniad, ac ymhlith y tystion mae Lloyd George a D.J. Williams (ar ran yr erlyniad) a W.J.Gruffudd a'r gantores boblogaidd Marie Lloyd (ar ran yr amddiffyniad). Y cyhuddiad yn erbyn Caradoc yw ei fod wedi bradychu ei wlad....
Os mai ffrwyth dychymyg yw'r achos, mae'r cyhuddiad yn adlewyrchu ffyrnigrwydd y gwrthwynebiad a brofodd Caradoc - a hynny'n amlach na pheidio o du pobl nad oeddent wedi darllen sill o'i waith. O dan hwyl sioe lawn symud a cherddoriaeth, mae Geraint Lewis yn gobeithio bod yna ystyriaethau mwy difrifol.
"Mae D.J.Williams, er enghraifft, yno er mwyn cymhariaeth, fel llenor oedd yn portreadu'r un math o gymdeithas â Caradoc Evans, a thua'r un cyfnod, ond yn ei gweld trwy lygaid gwahanol iawn. Mae'n siwr ei fod e'n gorddelfrydu, tra oedd Caradoc yn mynd i'r eithaf arall, a bod y gwir rywle yn y canol."
Fodd bynnag, a Geraint Lewis ei hun yn dipyn o ddryliwr delwau - roedd ei ffilm Smithfield a'i ddrama gyntaf Y Cinio yn dangos ffermwyr ifanc a dilynwyr rygbi ar eu gwaethaf rhemp - nid yw'n annisgwyl ei fod yn gwrthod condemnio eithafiaeth Caradoc Evans yn llwyr.
" I raddau mae meddylfryd gwlad y menyg gwynion yn dal yn y tir (mae Gwalia'n gwisgo rhai yn y ddrama). O leia' roedd Caradoc Evans yn fodlon gweld bach o waed a baw arnyn nhw. Yn y bôn rhychwant eitha' cul sydd i'n diwylliant ni, ac mae'n beth iach cael ambell i lais gwahanol fel ei lais e."
Ond mae'n prysuro i ddweud mai'r gynulleidfa fydd piau'r dyfarniad terfynol yn achos Caradoc Evans. Beth bynnag fydd hwnnw yng ngwres y foment, gobaith Geraint Lewis yw y bydd rhai pobl, ar ôl gweld y ddrama, yn troi at y gwaith gwreiddiol er mwyn dod i'w casgliad eu hunain.

PREVIEW (Pauline Mclean, Arts Editor WESTERN MAIL)

THE BEST HATED WRITER PRODUCED BY HIS NATION

Cardiff based Dalier Sylw theatre company has taken a bit of a gamble with its latest production The Language of Heaven, which begins a month-long tour of Wales this week. Not only does it take as its hero the most hated man in Wales - writer Caradoc Evans - but it risks the loyalty of its traditional Welsh-speaking audiences with a predominantly English language script. 
But Language of Heaven author Geraint Lewis, who wrote Dalier Sylw's last touring play Y Cinio, believes the gamble will pay off.
"My brief was to produce a play like him - extreme, not bland" says Geraint. "For a small part of his life he spoke Welsh. For most of it he wrote English."
"Twenty per cent of the population of Wales speak Welsh and 80 per cent do not; 20 per cent of the play is in Welsh and 80 per cent is not. I'm sure our regular audiences won't be put off. It really is a one-off for us and it may well give non-Welsh speaking audiences the chance to come along and see for themselves, as the Welsh in the play is self-explanatory."
Fifty years on from his death, Caradoc Evans is just a name to generations of Welsh people, but he can still incite a fierce debate among the older generation who remember him dismissing the National Eisteddfod as an "ill-managed circus" and recall comments like "No Welshman talks in Welsh if he knows English."
Geraint says, "He also used the phrase 'I do not hate my people. I like them well enough to criticize them.' We are not very good as a nation at accepting criticism which is probably why he was so hated. Police had to attend his lectures to prevent outbreaks of violence. There were riots outside the theatre when his play Taffy opened, and his portrait was slashed in the foyer of a West End theatre during a revival of his work."
Evans was born in Rhydlewis in 1878. Critics say he exaggerated the extent of the hardship he suffered in childhood. His education was provided not by schools and universities but by a West Wales schoolmaster, a working men's college in Camden Town, journalism and authorship.
He was a hard-working and prolific writer whose best work included the semi-autobiographical novel Nothing To Pay and the short stories Joseph's House and Be This Her Memorial. But it was books like My People which roused the Welsh critics aggainst Caradoc. Sub-titled Stories of the Peasantry of West Wales, it contained sketches of small-minded hypocritical individuals. "There is not a Welshman living of any literary note who will commend the narrative. As a picture of Welsh life, it is false and miserably misleading," said a review in The Western Mail at the time.
Caradoc replied that there was not a Welshman of any literary note anyway. "Welsh literature, in common with Welsh poetry and every other Welsh art or craft, perished at the hands of Non-conformity," he said in a letter to this newspaper.
But critics of Caradoc's work did not restrict themselves to verbal insults. His books were banned, his lectures interrupted. He was spat at, had eggs thrown at him and was frequently threatened. "I don't think he minded being dubbed the best hated man in Wales, but I think even he was taken aback by the ferocity of the attacks." says Geraint.
It was his ability to stir up heated debate which most inspired Geraint Lewis to write about him on the 50th anniversary of his death. He places the character of Caradoc (played by Dyfed Thomas) in Limbo, awaiting the decision on whether he is to go to heaven or hell. The audience hears the case for Caradoc from the prosecution - Gwalia, the spirit of Wales and David Lloyd George - and the defence from music hall artiste Marie Lloyd and WJ Gruffudd.
But will Caradoc finally rest in peace, or will his spirit continue to irritate the Welsh?
Geraint says, "I think that's for the audience to decide. He was certainly one of the most important figures this country ever produced, but he was regarded as a foreigner in his own land. If this play gets him more widely read and acknowledged for the good work he produced, then it has achieved something."




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