Under Milk Wood
Rhys Bevan John directs Jeremy Webb & Susan Stackhouse in Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood.
Stage Manager Sylvia Bell
Lighting Design/Technical Director Jessica Lewis
Costume Cathleen McCormack
Under Milk Wood is a touring show; touring with the two actors, a stage manager and a lighting designer/technician. Contact producer Jeremy Webb to discuss date availability and fees for bringing this piece to your theatre.
Jeremy Webb was nominated for the 2013 Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actor Merritt Award (Theatre Nova Scotia) for his performance in UMW. “It really was just an honour to be nominated,” he said.
The show is being remounted in September/October 2014, reuniting the production team. This year, if Dylan Thomas were alive, he would have been 100 years old.
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Got Milk Wood?
Under Milk Wood is a treat for the eyes, the ears and the heart.
by Kate Watson , in The Coast. Under Milk Wood begins in darkness. The sonorous voice of Jeremy Webb calls the audience into the dreams of a sleeping village with Dylan Thomas’s playful, soulful, saturated poetry. This “play for words” encompasses an entire day in the life of the village folk, who dream and gossip and lust and love.
Susan Stackhouse and Webb give masterful performances, playing over 30 characters between them and delineating each with mercurial changes in voice, accent and demeanor.
While the language is so evocative that it would be possible to enjoy this work with eyes closed, there is much to enjoy visually, from the simple, subtle lighting to the delightful way physical spaces are conjured from the tilt of a head or the curve of a body.
This play is a treat for the eyes, the ears and dare I say, the heart.
UNDER MILK WOOD PITCH PERFECT
Off The Leash production of Thomas classic offers fine acting, staging
Off The Leash Creative presents a passionate and elegant production of Under Milk Wood at the intimate Park Place Theatre in Halifax.
Famous Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’s short play — about 70 minutes — is thrilling for its acting by Jeremy Webb, a British-born performer steeped in Shakespeare and the one-man, multi-character show, and Halifax actor, voice coach and theatre professor Susan Stackhouse.
Both are adept at swift changes in accents and character and capture Thomas’s unusual and wonderful language, a language besotted with a love of description, of nature and of the human voice.
This is a great opportunity to see a famous literary piece and understand why it is so famous.
Under Milk Wood starts in pitch dark with Webb and Stackhouse taking turns describing a seaside town as the dark flows through the streets. Hush, they admonish us, listen to the passage of time. Then they take us into the dreams and, later, the private lives of the town’s colourful characters.
While there is much comedy in Under Milk Wood, the overall tone is one of reverence and a celebration of life, from everyday pleasures to the pain of lost love. A feeling of impending death weighs heavily. Thomas, who died at 39, mere months after Under Milk Wood was first read in 1953, was inspired by Thornton Wilder’s Our Town to write a drama — originally for radio — that is, in essence, a love song to Wales and to life itself.
Webb and Stackhouse trade off beautifully as they narrate and rapidly impersonate recurring characters.
The different types of married partners are a lot of fun in Under Milk Wood, from the jocular, laughing wife and her beloved drunkard to the miserable Mr. and Mrs. Pugh. A highlight is the scene where Webb as Mr. Pugh vociferously fantasizes about poisoning his domineering wife and then buttons down his face to a subdued, cramped look during the reality of a shared meal.
Stackhouse is excellent as the different women, changing her face from shimmering youth to bitter age, carving her voice around her characters. She ranges from a heartbroken but accepting woman with a slew of lovers and children to an acerbic, contained widow talking to her two dead, henpecked husbands.
Overseeing the town are Webb’s mournful but vital Captain Cat, who listens for everyone he knows, and the minister, whose prayer at day’s end closes the play.
Director Rhys Bevan-John, experienced in physical theatre, decided to bring more physicality to the actors but does not overdo it. The tone of this production is perfect. With effective lighting by Jessica Lewis and simple timeless costumes by Cathleen MacCormack, Under Milk Wood is staged on low black risers that are crammed underneath with antiques, from an old radio to a doll. These are not props but visually add to the idea of a specific time and place, now lost to the passage of time. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Under Milk Wood is a 1954 radio drama by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, adapted later as a stage play. An omniscient narrator invites the audience to listen to the dreams and innermost thoughts of the inhabitants of a fictional small Welsh fishing village Llareggub (“bugger all” backwards).
They include Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard, relentlessly nagging her two dead husbands; Captain Cat, reliving his seafaring times; the two Mrs Dai Breads; Organ Morgan, obsessed with his music; and Polly Garter, pining for her dead lover.
Later, the town awakens and, aware now of how their feelings affect whatever they do, we watch them go about their daily business. Webb and Stackhouse will play 40+ characters in this delightful, character-based whimsy from Dylan Thomas.
The two actors first worked together in Neptune Theatre’s ROMEO & JULIET in 2010, playing The Nurse and Friar. Off The Leash is thrilled to bring them together for this show.
RHYS BEVAN JOHN – Director Rhys Bevan-John has been practicing theatre since he was 10 years old. He feels honoured to have worked with many of the theatre companies in Nova Scotia, including: Valley Summer, Two Planks and a Passion, Neptune, Mulgrave Road, One Light and Mermaid Theatre. Along side Bill Wood, he is the co-artistic director of Misery Loves (theatre) Company. ML(t)C’s original collective creationThe Perfection of Man won Best Comedy at the 2012 Atlantic Fringe, and will be produced again later this year. Rhys’ script Pump Trolley, which won an award from the N.S. Writer’s Federation, will be produced in 2014.
SUSAN STACKHOUSE – actor Susan Stackhouse is an actor as well as a specialist voice, speech and dialect coach. She received her training at Dalhousie University, the National Theatre School of Canada and the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England (as a recipient of the Chevening Scholarship). Susan has spent sixteen seasons with the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake both as a member of the acting ensemble and as a voice coach. She has also performed at many other theatres over the years, including Neptune Theatre, The Royal Alexandra Theatre, Theatre New Brunswick, the Blyth Festival, Persephone Theatre, Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre and Ship’s Company. Susan began her career as an educator at George Brown College in the Performing Arts Department, and then moved to her home province of Nova Scotia to take a position in the Department of Theatre at Dalhousie University where she teaches in the Acting Program and has directed and voice coached many DalTheatre productions. In the past few years she has acted in Romeo and Juliet (Nurse) and Rabbit Hole (Nat) at the Neptune Theatre, recorded the role of Anna Dobchuk in the CBC radio series Backbencher, collaborated with mezzo-soprano Marcia Swanston in The Belle of Amherst (words and music of Emily Dickinson) and How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways . . . (words and music of Elizabeth Barrett Browning). In that same time Susan has also voice/dialect coached the feature films Copperhead and The Memory Keeper’s Daughter as well as the stage plays Romeo and Juliet, The Seafarer and Strong Poison – all for the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. Susan sits as Vice-Chair on the Board of the Nova Scotia Talent Trust <www.nstalenttrust.ns.ca>.