Epic Welsh language musical reimagines legendary tale of Branwen
An epic Welsh language musical will draw on talent from across Wales in a contemporary reimagining of the legendary yet tragic tale of Branwen, from the ancient mythical tales of the Mabinogion.
The dramatic show will mark a major milestone for the Wales Millennium Centre and Frân Wen as both organisations embark on fulfilling their shared vision of producing a landmark Welsh musical.
The musical tells of a dispersed kingdom, a corrupt monarchy and a new generation desperate for change.
After a bloody civil war, the Llŷr family control Cedyrn. Branwen, the charismatic young princess who has won the people’s hearts, is eager to move her country forward, but her brother, the king, won’t listen.
During an unexpected visit by the King of Ireland, she sees her opportunity to escape to a progressive and prosperous country where her voice will count and she’ll have the power to drive change.
But, as her star rises, every bargain, betrayal and body leads her deeper into the darkness, until, on the brink of ruin, the price becomes clear.
Branwen: Dadeni was written by Hanna Jarman, Elgan Rhys with lyrics and music by Seiriol Davies and will be staged in Cardiff, Aberystwyth, and Bangor in November this year.
Hanna Jarman’s previous writing credits include GALWAD (Collective Cymru) Y Teimlad (NYAW) and the S4C comedy drama, Merched Parchus which she created, co-wrote and starred in.
Elgan Rhys’s writing credits include Elen Benfelen/Goldilocks and Woof both for Sherman Theatre and he is the Creative Editor and Project Manager of the series Y Pump (Y Lolfa).
Seiriol Davies, who is also composer and lyricist, has most recently written Betty: A Sort of Musical, Milky Peaks (Theatr Clwyd & Áine Flanagan Productions) and the acclaimed hit How to Win Against History which opened at the Edinburgh Fringe, becoming the best-reviewed show of the festival and which went on to be a sell-out run at London’s Young Vic.
The musical will be directed by Frân Wen’s Artistic Director, Gethin Evans, (Ynys Alys and Faust & Greta for Frân Wen; live performance artistic director for GALWAD) who leads an outstanding team of creative talent from across Wales and beyond.
The creative team includes set and costume designer Elin Steele, lighting designer Bretta Gerecke, orchestrator Owain Gruffudd Roberts and casting director Hannah Marie Williams.
Branwen: Dadeni opens in Wales Millennium Centre’s Donald Gordon Theatre (8-11 November 2023), travelling to Aberystwyth Arts Centre (15-17 November 2023) and ends in Pontio Arts Centre, Bangor (22-25 November 2023).
Gethin Evans said: “Reimagining the myth of Branwen has been quite the journey, floored in our first workshop by the potential contemporary relevance of a tale we had all heard romanticised as children.
“Finding the humanity in these myth-like figures to unlock its themes of power, grief, and family with such an incredibly talented creative team is a real privilege.
“I look forward to sharing the epic score and heart-wrenching story with audiences in Cardiff, Aberystwyth and Bangor through our strategic touring partners Aberystwyth Arts Centre and Pontio Arts.”
Artistic Director of Wales Millennium Centre, Graeme Farrow added: “This collaboration is of huge importance to us as we embark on our largest Welsh language production to date, based on a much-loved world-famous Welsh tale, re-told for our times.
“I can’t wait to see this brilliant adaptation of Branwen, written by Hanna, Elgan and Seiriol, being brought to life on stages across the country, by our wonderful team of Welsh creative talent.”
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“Reimagines”? Does that mean there’s no war between the Welsh and the Irish?