WORLD PREMIÈRE: Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, August 2001
Edinburgh 2002, 2014
Adelaide Festivals: 2007, 2010, 2012
British Invasion: Kansas City 2011-2013
Domestic & International touring 2001-present.
WINNER: The Stage Award, Best Actor Edinburgh 2001
Dylan Thomas' "other works" (3 Short stories and 11 poems) brought to life on stage in an award winning performance
Domestic & International touring through 2016
Theatre Tours International presents
FERN HILL AND OTHER DYLAN THOMAS
written by Dylan Thomas
performed by Guy Masterson
Dylan Thomas' wonderful 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)
WINNER: STAGE AWARD, BEST ACTOR - EDINBURGH 2001
Adelaide Fringe Festival, 2007
"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)
Punter's Reviews from Adelaide Fringe Festival, 2007 (source: talkfringe.com.au)
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!(Aunt Em)
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. (c_r_mau)
A really great show, Guy Masterson is brilliant, a master performer. (Chrismac)
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! (Fred Fringe)
Guy Masterson tells Dylan Thomas' stories with captivating brilliance. The language is beautiful and the performance not to be missed. (Anna)
Masterson brings Dylan Thomas' beautiful words to vibrant life. See www.theatreguide.com.au for full review and more. (John Wells)
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! (Sylvia Marsh)
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! (The Village Idiot)
Wow! Loved the Holiday Memories, Do Not Go Gently and the Child's Christmas. Beautifully presented and performed. Nicely broken up, never, never boring! (Hmmnnn)
What a fantastic wordsmith Dylan was. Guy's very active reading was stunning, brought tears of sheer joy to my eyes! (Pete Whetton)
Agree with everyone below. Not a lot more I can add. I was mesmerised! (Sandee)
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! (Denise)
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. (HowardHater)
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! (Sooty)
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! (Actorboy)
What can I say... I went again! Think I might be becoming a groupie! (at my age!) Worth it though! (Georgie)
This was fantastic. Never seen a theatre like this but he was amazing on stage and had great rapport with the crowd. Worth seeing! (Tonestar)
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. (Valerie)
This is just brilliant. He starts off with an empty stage and fills it with imagery and imagination. Top act! (Gio)
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!! (FringeFreak)
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! (Emcee)
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! (Georgie)
An inspiring performance. A great show in a great venue. (Shane)
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! (Netty)
Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 2001
"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" (The Scotsman)
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)
"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" 05/24/04:
GUY MASTERSON - Adapter & Performer (click for additional biographical material)
After obtaining a Joint Honours degree in Biochemistry and Chemistry from Cardiff University in 1982, Guy studied drama at UCLA's School of Drama and started as an actor in 1985 in Hollywood. He returned to the UK in 1989 to study further at LAMDA.
Following a conventional start in plays, film and television, Guy began solo performing in 1991 with The Boy's Own Story and thence Under Milk Wood in 1994 and Animal Farm in 1995. He first produced/directed in 1993 with Playing Burton and participated at the Edinburgh Festival for the first time in 1994. The following 23 seasons saw his association with some of Edinburgh's most celebrated hits (see company history) and his company became the Fringe's most awarded independent theatre producer - garnering 8 Scotsman Fringe Firsts, 3 Herald Angels, 25 Stage Award nominations (including 4 wins) together with numerous lesser awards. His 2010 production of Morecambe transferred to the West End and won a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment plus another nomination for the actor playing Eric. In 2014, his epic production of Animal Farm the Tumanishvili Film Actors Theatre of Tbilisi, Georgia, won the Stage Award for Best Ensemble.
As a performer, he was nominated for The Stage Award for Best Actor for A Soldier's Song (1998), Under Milk Wood in 2003, Shylock in 2011, and won in 2001 with Fern Hill & Other Dylan Thomas. He received Edinburgh's most prestigious accolade, The Jack Tinker Spirit of the Fringe Award, in 2003.At Edinburgh 2016 he created his first overtly stand-up comic piece, Barking Mad!
His theatrical commitments have largely kept him out of mainstream film and television, however, he has made the obligatory appearance on Casualty (Christmas Special 2004) and has been the Franziskaner Monk - the main character of a premium German beer - since 2007!
His passion is to bring great ideas to life and new talent to the stage. He is married to Brigitta and father to Indigo and Tallulah...
TONY BONCZA - director
Trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama.
Theatre credits include: BBC Director General, Yes, Prime Minister, (Trafalgar Studios West End and National Tour); Four Nights in Knaresborough (Southwark Playhouse); The Critic (Minerva, Chichester Festival Theatre); 1800 Acres (Riverside Studios); Shakespeare in the Garden (Japan); Victor in The Price (Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich); Tom in The Norman Conquests (Birmingham Rep); Charlie in Death of a Salesman (Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh); Musik (Plymouth Theatre Royal); Indian Ink, A Woman of No Importance, To Kill a Mockingbird, Jamaica Inn, Barbarians, Donkeys' Years, Macbeth, A Winter's Tale, Lady Windermere's Fan, Just Between Ourselves, Racing Demon, The Cherry Orchard, The Merchant of Venice, The Rover, The Banished Cavaliers, The Norman Conquests and The Crucible (Salisbury Playhouse); The House of Correction (Guy Masterson Productions/The Pleasance)
Revue and cabaret includes: Boncza and Lumley: Back by Public Demand, Crackers Deluxe, More Crackers and Christmas Crackers (Salberg Studio, Salisbury Playhouse); Bars on Broadway (Nuffield Theatre, Southampton); The Pindar of Wakefield (Grays Inn Road, London).
Television includes: The Sarah Jane Adventures, Doctors, Londoners (Polish TV), Hotel Babylon, EastEnders, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, The Vet, Ties of Blood, Squadron, Coronation Street, Jackanory Playhouse, Strangers, Morecambe and Wise's Night Train to Murder, Eric Sykes's If You Go Into the Woods Today, For Maddie With Love, Dick Turpin.
Films include: Chariots of Fire, Empire of the Sun.
Directing credits include: Animal Farm, A Soldier's Song and Under Milk Wood (National and International tours for Guy Masterson/TTI and British Council); Bella Bella Donatella (Salisbury Umbrella/ Salisbury Playhouse); and has also directed a number of corporate and short films.
Co-writing for radio with Roger Leach includes: Barton Stacey and the Theft of the Elgin Marbles.
Other shows directed for Theatre Tours International
Other shows performed for Theatre Tours International
DYLAN THOMAS - Author
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.
Other Dylan Thomas shows presented by Theatre Tours International
MATT CLIFFORD - Composer
In a diverse career spanning touring and recording with rock bands, writing for West End theatre, advertising and Hollywood movies, Matt has carved something of a niche in composing for sport over the last ten years. His association with the UEFA Champions League began with creating the walk-on music in 2003 that is still played in European stadiums at the beginning of every game of the competition. He has continually refined the UCL audio brand since then and has also composed the themes for the UEFA Cup, the UEFA SuperCup and four Champions League Final Opening Ceremonies (featuring, among others, Andrea Bocelli, David Garrett, Jonas Kaufmann and Tinchy Strider).
Matt composed the official anthem of the Rugby Six Nations and also the broadcast music for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
His theatre work includes the soundscape for One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest in the West End, Gavin Robertson's The Day Of The Triffids the 2013 Edinburgh production of The Shawshank Redemption and this score for Guy Masterson's Under Milk Wood.
He also composes and collaborates with The Rolling Stones, with whom he has been touring for over 15 years.
2014 marked the centenary of Dylan Thomas' birth. Globally marketed as "DT-100", many thousands of events took place all around the world in his name. But when I started performing Under Milk Wood as a solo show back in 1994, although Dylan Thomas was a highly regarded poet, he had not yet become an industry! Of course, his masterwork was always popular and, over the last 20 years, I have been fortunate enough to travel the globe, to give over 2000 performances of it. Over the years, audiences for his work have increased hugely, and Under Milk Wood is now one of the most highly performed plays ever! Yet, when I began, there was far less knowledge of his "lesser works" - the poetry and stories.
While touring Under Milk Wood, I was often asked to give readings of his other works and I'd carry with me an Omnibus Edition so that I could have every part of his canon at hand which I would recite from the book, largely on a request basis - people would call out the title of a favourite work and I would then read it to them. Sometimes I would just read one of my favourites. The point is that I would always recite with the book in my hand.
After about 300 (or so) of these readings, I found that I had all but committed many of his more popular poems to memory and no longer relying on the book... So, in 2001, I decided to go 'all the way'. I made this show. A compilation of my own favourites and called it Fern Hill & Other Dylan Thomas. Or I could say, Fern Hill and NOT Under Milk Wood Dylan Thomas!
Fern Hill has always been my favourite poem of all... And it was the first of Dylan's I'd ever read and the first I'd committed to memory as a drama student in my LAMDA days. It also happens to be one of his best loved works. For me, it speaks of my lost Welsh childhood and, when I recite it, the words resonate. I feel like they are the words I would pick if I were a genius poet! And that, I suppose, is the essence of the show...
When I speak the words of Dylan Thomas, I do so as if they are mine... as if the memories are mine... the thoughts. And perhaps this is what makes it work as theatre rather than 'spoken word'. I am not 'rekindling' the spirit of Dylan Thomas. Nor 'going for a Burton'... and I deliberately steered away from any 'actory interpretation' . This made my recieving The Stage award for Best Actor for it back in 2001 very surprising... But when I asked one of the judges why they had picked me, he told me that my performance embodied the 'very essence of acting' which (he explained) was 'the complete subjugation of the actor's spirit to the work' - and that, I suppose - is exactly what I set out to do; to give myself over to the words and breath life into them as if Thomas had written them for me.
For me, poetry too often lives only between the covers of a book or between the ears rather than in the ether... off the page. Audiences love to hear the words of Dylan Thomas live rather than read them. Given that poems are 'literary constructions' and not primarily designed for performance, one could argue that letting an actor loose on them is a dangerous thing, but the response to this show has been incredible:
I have performed it in theatres but have given more casual renditions in cafes, bars & restaurants, churches, tents, castles, on beaches, up mountains, on boats, at weddings, in classrooms, lecture halls, museums, on dining-room tables, in buses and airplanes... There is no end to the possibilities!
Dylan Thomas remains for me the one writer that can make me laugh out loud and move me to tears in one sentence - sometimes in one word! The pleasure I derive from performing the stories and reciting the poems of this genius is huge and I consider myself priviledged to be able to bring his work to new audiences.
I hope that you will enjoy Dylan's words as much as I do and, if what you hear prompts you to read more of him, then I will sleep a happy man. GM
- The Storyline: Guy Masterson has established himself as perhaps the world's leading exponent of the works of Dylan Thomas. His solo performance of Under Milk Wood has achieved legendary status.
- This tribute work, Fern Hill & Other Dylan Thomas concentrates on the lesser known works of the Welsh genius - arguably the finest poet of the 20th Century.
- Any student of modern literature will find this production inspirational to their studies. Guy Masterson takes us through some of Thomas's lesser known works, including A Child's Christmas In Wales, A Visit to Grandpa's, Death Shall Have No Dominion and Fern Hill. In this funny and touching production, the audience is treated to Thomas's beautiful poetry and prose through an actor's interpretation; The result is astounding - Dylan Thomas lifts off the page like a dove and is revealed in all his glory.
- Drama Students will enjoy the physicality of Masterson's performance, his control of language and mastery of multiple characterisation.
- Guy Masterson gives workshops in creating theatre from the written word, physical performance storytelling, theatre production, taking the stage, creation of presence and lectures on the works of Dylan Thomas.
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(NB: This is a PDF file. You will require ACROBAT READER to read this document)
- Fern Hill requires only a tall (cushionless) bar stool (to be provided by venue) on a bare, open stage.
- Minimum theatrical playing area is 4 meters wide by 3 meters deep. This is compact. Larger is preferable. For Cabaret style or non-theatrical performances, ANY size will suit.
- It can play auditoria ranging from the intimate (60 seats) to the large (1500 seats).
- Programmable lighting facilities are preferable although the lighting can work manually with a minimal rig.
- Good sound amplification is important. Preshow, Interval and Postshow music is provided on Apple Mac Laptop running Qlab (4 cues with no sound level changes)
- One on the road domesticallyand internationally.
- Lighting Cues: 36 - 7 main states. Lighting diagram supplied by downloading.
- Cue script provided on day.
- Post programing rehearsal time with technician - 30 mins.