Melangell Dolma is an actress, theatre producer and playwright from Meirionnydd, now living in Cardiff. Bachu is Melangell’s first play and was originally developed as part of Theatr Clwyd’s Writers in Residence programme.
I’ve been working on ‘Bachu’ for a little over a year now. It started out as a short play entitled ‘Mae’r Amser Wedi Dod’. I wrote this version – which was 15 minutes long – whilst taking part in Theatr Clwyd’s Resident Author Scheme in June 2018. Readings of the work were presented in Mold, and later in Theatr y Maes at the Cardiff National Eisteddfod.
As the play is set in the National Eisteddfod, I felt instinctively that the Eisteddfod was its natural home. My hope was to create a full staging of the play at the Llanrwst Eisteddfod. Following last year’s readings, I started discussing my ambition with the Eisteddfod, Theatr Clwyd and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru. Fortunately for me, they were all extremely supportive, and I’m very grateful to them for all their advice and guidance as I put my first production together.
We had just eleven months to prepare. It sounds like a reasonable amount of time, doesn’t it? But we couldn’t afford to waste a minute of it. I applied for a grant from the Arts Council of Wales and, thankfully, I was successful. Great! March. Budget confirmed. A rehearsal room generously offered free of charge by the Wales Millennium Centre. Performance space available at Caffi Maes B (the first play to be staged there!). Everything was in place. Apart from the fact that the script had to be re-drafted . . .
I wanted to extend it to about three-quarters of an hour in length. No problem, that wouldn’t be too difficult. But as I went back to the first draft, taking it apart and trying to put everything back into place whilst also including new, extra bits, it felt like trying to complete a jigsaw without the picture on the box as a guide. Things weren’t falling into place as they were supposed to do. Panic! I wasn’t ready for this!
Melangell Dolma, playwright.
More info about the production, including performance dates and times at the Conwy County National Eisteddfod can be found here.
‘Bachu’ is a love story about Manon and Llŷr, two ex-lovers who find themselves on the threshold of one of the most important decisions of their lives. It’s a story about love, friendship, and a celebration of all the Eisteddfod’s weird and wonderful traditions. But there was something more going on under the surface. What was it, I wondered? Then I realised – it was taking a risk. That is the element at the heart of the play – how brave must you be to risk it, without knowing whether or not you will succeed?
I’ve learned more than I could ever have foreseen during this process. And yes, at times, it has all been too much, and I’ve been tempted to give it up. And yet, like Gwen – Manon’s mother – who takes part in the Folk Dancing competition after only a few hours’ rehearsal, I knew that I would always regret not going for it. Sometimes, you just have to grasp the opportunity when you can.
1 August 2019