Quick questions quizzing Catrin Dafydd, author of the play Merched Caerdydd.
Merched Caerdydd goes on tour with Nos Sadwrn o Hyd by Roger Williams in March and April 2019. Full tour details here.
Cardiff is home to Cariad, Liberty and Awen. Whilst they each tread a very different path in life, they have more in common than their city alone. Here are three young, bright, and perhaps unexpected women from contemporary Wales, each trying to make sense of their messy lives. Women trying to come to terms with their past whilst navigating their futures. But will change be possible? Or has their fate already been sealed?
Where did the idea for this play come from?
Originally, Merched Caerdydd was commissioned as part of the provision at the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff 2018. During the process, Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru became a partner as well. As a result, I was fortunate to work with the directors, Sarah Bickerton and Mared Swain. The monologues were performed in the drama hut and in the Sïo café. As 2018 was a year for remembering a century since some women were given the right to vote, I was keen to present monologues about women living in Cardiff today and who could speak Welsh. On top of that, I wanted to provide a platform for women we don’t often see on stage. Representing women’s challenges (and the difficult choices they have to make in terms of their role) underpinned what was driving me forward when writing.
Can you give a brief description of the 3 characters?
Cariad is a young woman full of life from the deprived area of Caerau, who’s intent on being a star somehow. Liberty is a fiery woman who has a complex relationship not only with her mother, but also with her own body. Awen was brought up in a luxury home in Cyncoed but she will have to come to terms with her past decisions before being able to move on.
Has the script changed since the first reading at the Eisteddfod? If so how and why?
Originally Merched Caerdydd were three monologues, but now the monologues have been interlocked to create a play. It was a work in development and as a result it evolved along the way. With each reading and every rehearsal there were changes and cuts to try to strengthen the piece. In addition, on hearing the work being performed to an audience at the Eisteddfod I had an opportunity to notice other things that needed to be cut and adapted. In a live performance, the audience will give you hundreds of clues without saying a word. You can feel the need to adapt and change the piece and yearn to do so after the performance!
Do you collaborate with the director?
For me, working with Mared the director has been a key part of the development of Merched Caerdydd. In so many ways, writing is a mass process and Mared and I have worked closely along the way. Her dramatic advice has challenged me at all times which is so special.
Do you feel that the characters change as the actors take possession of them?
Actors always brings new life into characters. In the rehearsal room, the work evolves as the actors contribute their thoughts. In my opinion, everyone intensely involved with ‘the development of the drama” has the right to suggest what might strengthen the piece. Following this, it’s a matter of weighing up.
Which one do you prefer? Writing for television or for stage?
Writing for television and stage are different experiences in one respect but yet again they have many things in common. In each case, you are working closely with producers, directors and editors who all want to give the best experience for the audience. I don’t feel the need to choose between one discipline or the other actually because having the privilege of writing in many mediums enriches your experience as a writer.
Merched Caerdydd by Catrin Dafydd is touring across Wales alongside Nos Sadwrn o Hyd by Roger Williams in March – April 2019. Find out more here.