FERN HILL & OTHER DYLAN THOMAS
Following the remarkable success of his solo interpretation of Under Milk Wood, which has played over 1500 times all over the globe, Guy Masterson here compiles 90 minutes of his favourite 'other works' - rarely heard and rarely performed - by the Welsh Wizard, Dylan Thomas.
The programme includes three of Thomas' wonderful short stories; A Visit To Grandpa's, Holiday Memory and, of course, A Christmas Story (more popularly known as A Child's Christmas In Wales), plus a selection of ten of his greatest poems including, of course, Fern Hill, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night and Death Shall Have No Dominion.
Each element of the production is delivered in Masterson's unique physical performance style, brings each to life with astonishing versatility. His voice, increasingly reminiscent of his great uncle, Richard Burton's, Masterson makes the words sing, echo and vibrate in a way that will be remembered for a long time.
For venue, festival and event programmers, this show is completely adaptable. It can be presented in 60, 75 or 90 minute theatrical versions, or as 25, 35, 45, 60 & 75 minute cabaret versions. Elements can also be singled out for after dinner presentations.
BUY THE CD!
We are proud to announce that the Dylan Thomas Estate has kindly authorised us to offer recordings of Guy Masterson's celebrated performances of Dylan's masterworks.
Click on the samples below to download. (You will need an MP3 player OR Windows Media Player to play these excerpts.)
International Delivery costs charged at £1.50 packing & service + Postage costs
To order by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
OR WRITE TO: Theatre Tours International, THe Hawthorne Theatre
Please indicate clearly the recording you would like, the number of copies, your full postal address & telephone number.
An invoice will be inlcuded payable upon receipt.
|FERN HILL SAMPLES (click on red title to sample the track)||
|The Force That Through The Green Fuse...||
"The force that through the gree fuse drives the flower, drives my green age..."
0.5Mb - 18 sec
|A Visit to Grandpa's||
"In the middle of the night, I was woke out of a dream of whips and lariats..."
1.1Mb - 40 sec
|A Christmas Story||
"One Christmas was so much like another..."
1.2Mb - 50 sec
"August Bank Holiday... A tune on an ice cream cornet, a slap of sea and a tickle of sand..."
1.4Mb - 60 sec
|Fern Hill||"Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs..."||
0.7Mb - 30 sec
"Compelling and beautiful... Guy Masterson is arguably the world's leading stage exponent of Dylan Thomas. We had his Under Milk Wood last year (and again in this Fringe) and now we have his alternative Thomas performance - a range of stories and poems which, in some ways, is yet more rewarding. Masterson is an athletic and highly animated performer who imbues even the character of passing mention with a sense of style and personality. He has the rich nasal timbre of classic Welsh delivery, one which, with a purse of the lips, he can transform to Richard Burton and even Anthony Hopkins. He has the agile tongue for the rapid ebb and flow of Thomas and the artistry to bring to vivid life each and every word of that superb master of the language. "
Samela Harris, Adelaide Advertiser, March 2007
"This is a charming and delightful production of works by Dylan Thomas. The much-lauded, amiable and amazingly productive Guy Masterson presents a one-man show of energetic readings of the famous Welsh booze-hound's poetry and short stories.
On a bare stage with nothing but his beautiful voice and vigorous physicality, Masterson launches into 'Holiday Memory', an enchanting story of a family holiday at the beach. As we warm to Masterson, we are drawn into this nostalgic and appealing tale. Masterson bounds about - grinning, puffing and twisting - bringing the words to life. And so he continues, reciting Thomas' poems with verve and affection. Particularly effective are 'The force that through the green fuse drives the flower' and the sad, elegiac trio of poems 'Death Shall Have No Dominion', 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night' (which builds stirringly from a reluctant whisper to a plaintive cry of uncertain bravado) and 'Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed'.
The real star of the show is Dylan Thomas. Masterson's charismatic and vivid evocation of the poems makes us appreciate Thomas' great gift."
John Wells (theatreguide.com.au)
After seeing his Under Milk Wood in 2006, I felt compelled to see more of Guy Masterson's work. So this presentation of Dylan Thomas' lesser-known works - or, as Masterson put it, "the not-Milk Wood Thomas" - afforded me the opportunity to see the man/men at work again.
As per previous efforts, Masterson recites Thomas' works with boundless energy, roaming the stage with swoops and sweeps, his face alive with obvious gleeful appreciation. He covers around ten pieces, each displaying Thomas' evocative style - but the words are just an outline for the performance; Masterson adds gobs of colour with his oration, texture with gesticulation. Genuinely remorseful for Thomas' death, Masterson makes the poems his own.
But what really made this performance for me was the casual nature of the performance. Dressed in dark board-shorts and a t-shirt, Masterson intersperses witty asides to the audience with the poems; a true gem was his comparison of various renditions of Under Milk Wood, successfully aping Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins and even Dylan Thomas himself.
In short: brilliant. See it. Go on, there's a FringeTIX link up there; click it!
(A super-duper added bonus for me, of course, was listening to a bunch of first-year TAFE students pontificate about the performance afterwards. "He was oooooooookay - not as good as I thought he'd be, though. I mean, what's with the one-man-show?")
(It's also worth noting that this is a much better venue for Under Milk Wood - much more intimate than the cavernous Union Hall. If you didn't catch UMW last year, give that a go as well.)
Festival Freak - 07/03/08
Aunt Em wrote: Just wonderful. This is a guy working at the top of his game. The words tripped from his tounge like diamonds, caressing the audience into a captivated adoring harem! I sat in the front and I swear I got special treatment! Just wonderful stuff!
c_r_mau wrote: We saw UNDER MILK WOOD last year and LOVED IT. so we went to see FERN HILL and it was GREAT. Well worth the small $$$ that Masterson asks.
Chrismac wrote: A really great show, Guy Masterson is brilliant, a master performer.
Fred Fringe wrote: Masterson say's this show is the least we can do for a dead poet. He's not wrong. Dylan Thomas is a genius and, even to the uninitiated, this show is simply a joy. The words tumble out of Masterson's Welsh lilting mouth like a cascade of life affirming energy. From the wild abandon of a child's imagination to the rueing of lost innocence, Thomas' musings are afforded perfect weight and style. Here's a master performer working at the top of his game with the words of a genius his muse. Wonderful!
Anna wrote: Guy Masterson tells Dylan Thomas' stories with captivating brilliance. The language is beautiful and the performance not to be missed.
John Wells wrote: Masterson brings Dylan Thomas' beautiful words to vibrant life. See www.theatreguide.com.au for full review and more.
Sylvia Marsh wrote: I went to UNDER MILK WOOD last night. Came back for this tonight. WOW WOW WOW! If I didn't see it with my own eyes, I would not have believed it. I think it was actually better! WHAT A MEMORY! Mr Masterson convinced us that Dylan Thomas is a genius. But Masterson is completely at home with this material. He has the perfect voice and style to bring the words to life. I was completely enchanted by practically every word. Enraptured! Simply a wonderful fringe offering!
The Village Idiot wrote: I'll admit right off that I was doubtful about the idea of poetry performed as one-man theatre, but I was completely wrong. Guy Masterson is an utterly engaging and convincing performer. He makes the sights, sounds and characters of Dylan Thomas' works come alive without costumes, makeup, sets or props of any kind. Masterson evokes emotion and imagery with wit, energy and incredible vocal and physical talent. Go and see it!
Hmmm wrote: Wow! Loved the Holiday Memories, Do Not Go Gently and the Child's Christmas. Beautifully presented and performed. Nicely broken up, never, never boring!
Pete Whetton wrote: What a fantastic wordsmith Dylan was. Guy's very active reading was stunning, brought tears of sheer joy to my eyes
Sandy wrote: agree with everyone below. Not a lot more I can add. I was mesmerised!
Denise wrote: This was lovely! Just sheer pleasure. This guy is obviously enchanted by his material and he enchants us too. You could have heard a pin drop. My attention has never been held like that before! An amazing experience. And I will buy the poetry! Fabulous!
Howardhater wrote: I went with Actorboy, and though I have NO INTENTION WHATEVER to be an actor, I agree with everything he wrote. I go to a lot of theatre and this was like nothing I have ever seen. Put simply it is just him and the words. He is great and the words are great. And you go with them.
Sooty wrote: Truly an amazing show. The imagery he created, the senses that he captivated, I can't find adequate description for this show. Truly a master at his craft, in the true sense of the word. His passion for theatre, the words of Thomas and his audience was strongly and keenly felt. Put simply, go see this show!
Actorboy wrote: WOW!!! How to be inspired and intimidated in one go! He blew my mind! I never thought you can act like that. It's freestyle rollercoasting. He just goes for it, miming, showing, describing until you are IN the stories with him. His characters are so clear. And the poetry is sublime. I was never drawn to poetry but now I feel like I want to buy books of it. An amazing night!
Georgie wrote: What can I say... I went again! Think I might be becoming a groupie! (at my age!) Worth it though!
Tonestar wrote: This was fantastic. Never seen a theatre like this but he was amazing on stage and had great rapport with the crowd. Worth seeing!
Valerie wrote: Guy Masterson is an energetic actor and his enthusiasm and joy in the work he is portraying comes through with every piece. He's an old man facing death, a donkey, a dog, a lovely innocent child, a tipsy aunt, self satisfied uncles and so many more that he peoples the stage with dozens of Dylan Thomas characters and his lovely, oh so lovely, lilting, language.
Gio wrote: This is just brilliant. He starts off with an empty stage and fills it with imagery and imagination. Top act!
Fringefreak wrote: Definitely nothing I have seen before.. Definitely something I would see again.. One man on stage entertaining and story telling like no one I have seen.. Love the Burton and Hopkins impressions... Definite must see of the Fringe!!
Emcee wrote: Guy Masterson brings a selection of Dylan Thomas' poems and short stories to life. He doesn't just tell the stories; he shows them. One man on an empty stage, but a great theatrical experience. If only high school students could see Dylan Thomas like this ...
Georgie wrote: Saw this amazing performance last night. Saw his Under Milk Wood last year which was fantastic. You have to see him. If you like being told a good story then this is for you. Brilliant!
Shane wrote: An inspiring performance. A great show in a great venue.
Netty wrote: I really enjoyed Fern Hill. Guy Masterson brings the stories to life in his own entertaining way. When he talks about a day at the beach, you are THERE. Saw Under Milk Wood last year and can recommend both!
"As a fan of Thomas, I remembered clearly Guy Masterson's rendering of the ten poems and three short stories which make up this mini-anthology of Thomas' work, but I had forgotten the extraordinary physicality of his performance. He literally becomes the characters, even if they appear just for a moment. His body and facial expression are constantly changing as he moves from character to character: children, strutting young men, giggling girls, decrepit old men, eccentrics, fat uncles and drunken aunts, all appear before for us for their moment in the spotlight, and then Masterson himself is with us again for a moment or two, before he embarks on another odyssey of characterisation.
His still, straight renditions of "And Death Shall have No Dominion" and "Do Not Go Gentle" are made the more effective by the contrast and left the audience stunned.
It is a tour de force which made the eighty minutes or so pass so quickly that the audience lost all sense of time. He has performed the piece hundreds of times and has clearly been developing and refining it as he has done so. In 2001 I gave it four stars: now it deserves five!
(Peter Lathan - British Theatre Guide 2003)
"...sheer, unadulterated pleasure... a solo actor without equal... a master of transformation... a flurry of collective nouns and a beauty of adjectives... the fabulously capable hands of Masterson...joyous and emotive in equal measure...unutterably moving... All are given sumptuous expression in Masterson's energetic, guttural, totally undeniable performance."
(Mark Brown - Scotland on Sunday)
"Immersed in the words of the Welsh master ... The epic slices of Welsh life bring the biggest smiles. But the power of the more introspective works is undeniable ... glorious"
WINNER: BEST ACTOR 2001 "The actor throws himself into Thomas' short stories and poems, sweating and gesturing with energy born of deep passion for the words...a journey into the heart of Thomas country, with its rich landscapes and unforgettable characters. ...superb timing and clownish glee...Masterson's enthusiasm for his production is unmistakable and infectious - performing at this level, he could make Thomas fans of us all." (The Stage)
"Guy Masterson enthusiastically introduces us to instantly recognisable characters... Creeping and prancing around the stage he effectively brings the writing to life, evoking smells and tastes in the process... Worth the ticket price for the description of Thomas' grandad alone." (The List)
"A tremendously enjoyable hour and a quarter... Masterson's love of the material shines through - and interestingly, as the programme progresses, the Welsh cadences and vowels grow stronger as Thomas' words work their magic... I thoroughly enjoyed myself!"
(About British Theatre 2001)
"Once or twice at the Fringe you witness a rarity, an artist's great love and enthusiasm for his favourite subject. Such is the case with Guy Masterson's Fern Hill... one of those too rare productions at the festival that leaves us so much richer for the experience. Thank you for allowing us to travel in your knowledge of Dylan Thomas, Mr Masterson"
John Ritchie (Edinburgh Guide)
Date: 5/24/04: "Dear Guy Masterson. Just one punter who would like to congratulate you on a wonderfully moving and riveting performance in Perth on Friday 21st May 2004. Consummate acting and physical presence that we do not see very often in Perth and I shall remember for a long time. Thanks and best wishes. Judy Norwell"
Dylan Thomas' short stories and poems are brought vividly to life in an enchanting, award winning show.
Often overshadowed by his masterpiece, Under Milk Wood, world renowned solo performer Guy Masterson reveals the magic of Dylan Thomas' "other" works in a performance "of staggering energy and invention" (The Scotsman) brilliantly conjuring the romantic lyricism and genius wordplay that made Thomas one of the World's greates writers.
The programme includes three of Thomas' wonderful short stories; A Visit To Grandpa's, Holiday Memory and, of course, A Christmas Story (more popularly known as A Child's Christmas In Wales), plus a selection of his greatest verse including Fern Hill, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night and Death Shall Have No Dominion.
Masterson's command of Thomas's wordplay is remarkable, akin to his great uncle, the late Richard Burton. He won The Stage Award for Best Actor in 2001 for this performance. Experience the richness and magic of the English language at its very best!
"Sheer unadulterated pleasure! Expect Thomas's words and characters to be brought wonderfully to life... A simply unmissable offering." (Scotland on Sunday)
GUY MASTERSON (click on link for biog)
For Guy Masterson Productions/TTI, Tony has directed A Soldier's Song, The Boys Own Story, Animal Farm and redirected Under Milk Wood. He also performed in The House of Correction produced & directed by Guy Masterson at the Edinburgh Festival '96. He has also directed corporate videos and short films including Walk On The Wild Side for Baron Unicorn Films.
He trained at Central School Of Speech and Drama. Acting credits include The House of Correction for GMPS, Edinburgh Festival 1996, Lady Windermere's Fan, Just Between Ourselves (Neil), Racing Demon (Streaky Bacon), The Cherry Orchard (Yepikhodov), The Rover and The Banished Cavaliers (Blunt), The Norman Conquests (Tom), Merchant of Venice (Prince of Arragon/Salario) - all directed by Jonathan Church at Salisbury Playhouse. Other theatre credits include The Crucible for Birmingham Stage Company/Salisbury Playhouse, The Mousetrap (Dt. Sgt. Trotter) at St. Martins Lane Theatre, London; Barbarians, The Maids, The Atheists Tragedy and Romeo and Juliet (Belgrade, Coventry); A Midsummer Night's Dream (Nuffield, Southampton); Christie in Love, Hitting Town and A Taste of Honey (Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford); Macbeth (Thorndike, Leatherhead); The Boyfriend (Dundee Rep); Piaf (Farnham and the Royal Alexander, Toronto); Film credits: Chariots of Fire, Empire of the Sun. Television credits: The Vet, Ties of Blood, Squadron, Coronation Street, For Maddie With Love, Strangers, Morecambe and Wise, Jackanory Playhouse, Eric Sykes and Dick Turpin.
Dylan Thomas was born in Swansea, South Wales on October 27th 1914, the son of the English Master of Swansea Grammar School, where Dylan was later educated. He began writing poetry as a schoolboy before taking his first job as a junior reporter for the South Wales Evening Post in 1931. His first volume of verse Eighteen Poems was published in 1934 prior to a move to London where he worked in journalism, broadcasting and script-writing. His next volume, Twenty Five Poems was completed and published in 1936. In the same year, Dylan married Caitlin Macnamara and they moved to Laugharne in Carmarthenshire, South West Wales. During World War II, Dylan spent most of his time in London where he wrote & broadcast for the BBC. In 1940 Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Dog - a collection of short stories, brought him widespread critical acclaim. He also wrote several plays and scripts including The Doctor And The Devils. Deaths And Entrances which followed in 1946, contained some of his finest poetry and resulted in his being invited to lecture in the USA. Thomas eventually visited the USA on four separate tours which paid handsomely, enabling the upkeep of his family back in Wales. His heavy drinking, however, had seriously weakened his health and on 9th November 1953, after a famous binge in the White Horse Pub in New York, he died, ostensibly of alcoholic poisoning - although it has since been suggested that he, being diabetic, entered a fatal diabetic coma induced by excessive alcohol. His body was returned home and buried in Laugharne with a simple wooden cross marking his grave. He was 39. Under Milk Wood and Quite Early One Morning,a collection of his works for the BBC were published posthumously in 1954.
Even after nearly 2000 performances, I remain completely taken aback by the reception given to my solo rendition of Under Milk Wood and the delight that Dylan Thomas so obviously brings to audiences and readers. Yet, although Under Milk Wood is his best known work - and undoubtedly a work of genius - much of his other work is often overlooked.
I fell for Dylan's language at the tender age of twenty-five when I started acting; I had used one of his famous tongue-twisting prose passages as a vocal-warm-up-exercise and was so enthralled that I rushed out to buy his complete works. I voraciously devoured them and, ever since, Dylan Thomas has been my favourite poet... and the only one I have come across that can move me to tears in a word.
Many of his poems are much celebrated; Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Death Shall Have No Dominion and, of course, the astounding Fern Hill. His short stories, however, are rarely heard (and even more rarely seen), yet they contain some of his most spellbinding descriptive prose and lyrical musings. From the incredibly dense but tremendously apposite, wonderfully succinct and brilliantly reminiscent Holiday Memory - August Bank Holiday at the seaside in Wales - to the moving, boyish romanticism of A Visit To Grandpa's, Thomas's ability to transport his audience to magical, universal worlds is almost unparalleled. His most famous short story, A Child's Christmas In Wales, has to be one of the most wonderful flashbacks to those "Great snowbound, turkey-proud, yule-log cracking, holly berry bedizened, kissing-under-the-mistletoe" Christmases gone ever written.
It was the reception to my readings of these works - which I often gave in conjunction with performances of Under Milk Wood - that prompted me to commit a selection of my favourites to memory and create a new show, with the freedom to bodily express Dylan's language free from the shackles of book-holding.
For me, the pleasure of performing these stories and poems - bringing to life all the Welshness of my childhood - the vivid memories of the hottest summer in recorded history on Aberavon beach and splurging my pennies - so recently and generously dropped into my matchbox by my myriad uncles for endlessly reciting my party piece "My Friend Billy had a ten foot ...." to their great delight - in the fantastic fairground next to the Afan Lido - the local swimming pool where I was learning to drown - is only matched by the rapture of the listener, whether a dedicated Thomas fan or a new exposee.
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