New bilingual production based on the Mabinogion comes to Cardiff
Cardiff’s pub theatre The Other Room has announced its next production will be a play in Welsh and English based on the Mabinogion.
Huno, the debut play from Cardiff writer Tamar Williams, is described as an invigorating take on the second branch of the Mabinogi, and tells the story of Branwen, “a woman caught in the wake of the endeavours of men”.
“Branwen’s story, one of the great Welsh myths, is one that I’ve returned to time and time again. It feels universal, like it’s echoed across the centuries,” the writer said.
“It’s both incredibly epic and very personal: at its heart, it’s one woman caught up in a war between men, and the national and international repercussions of a marriage failing.
“I wanted to explore a contemporary retelling of the story through one couple and their relationship: the joyful, fizzy honeymoon stage through to the cracks that start to appear when the world beyond their love is too much for them to handle.
“The first draft of this play was written two years ago, during a national lockdown. It has since grown and changed as the landscape of our society changes around it – and as I change too.
“As we enter rehearsals, I’m halfway through my first pregnancy, and Branwen’s story – the story of a wife and a mother – has taken on a new significance again. The more we’ve workshopped the play as a team, the more it feels relevant to our time: a time of uncertainty, war, societal fracture.”
“I want Huno to ask the questions a lot of us ask ourselves: do we look at the world around us, do we let it in, or do we keep ourselves protected? Do we turn inwards or look outwards? How do we find joy in the smallness of our lives when the world seems to constantly be demanding action?” Ms Williams added.
“Most of all, I want Huno to offer one telling – of thousands – of Branwen’s story, a figure of Welsh mythology, whose story has been told so many times before, and who will continue to linger in our collective imaginations.”
The Other Room’s Artistic Director Dan Jones, who will direct the production, his first since 2019, said they were impressed with the boldness of the script for Huno when it was submitted through the company’s New Page open submission programme in 2020.
“For a first-time playwright to tackle the big ideas and important issues of our time was inspiring,” he said.
“As Wales’ fringe theatre, it is our job to take a different perspective on bilingual theatre. Through pushing the envelope we compliment the great tradition of Welsh and bilingual work and expand the horizons of Welsh language theatre on offer.
“The hope is for Huno to follow in the footsteps of A Good Clean Heart by Alun Saunders and Hela by Mari Izzard, offering some fresh ideas on how Welsh and English can coexist on stage in a creative, authentic and imaginative way.”
Huno runs from runs from 18-31 July and will be one of the last productions at The Other Room in the current venue Porters, as the current lease comes to an end in October.
Tickets for Huno are available now from The Other Room website
To keep updated on The Other Room, you can also follow the team on the company Twitter feed, Facebook page and Instagram account.
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Great to hear. But I’ve always wondered why our mythology isn’t used more in theatre plays, TV series & films? The Mabinogi is ripe for a Hollywood blockbuster, although saying that Welsh mythology is often used by Hollywood but it’s never credited as. Take the movies featuring King Arthur & Merlin. Jack. The Giant Killer. Disney’s Black Cauldron and Lord of The Rings. All were either direct adaptions of or influenced by Welsh mythology, historical figures or characters taken from the Mabinogi. We as Britain’s native people need to scream from the rooftops that it’s ours not allow others to… Read more »