Dic Edwards

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Dic Edwards is a British playwright and poet with more than 20 productions to his name. Born in Cardiff Edwards has often found himself at odds with his Welsh background. This was never more in evidence than in 2002 when Welsh Nationalists took to the stage and conducted walk outs during the run of his play Franco’s Bastard at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff. In a debate in parliament on Welsh issues in 2002, the demonstrations against Franco’s Bastard were cited as examples of Nationalist intolerance (Hansard 2002).

Edwards first play At The End Of The Bay, produced at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff 1982, appeared at a time when new theatre in the English language in Wales was almost non-existent. At this time Edwards met the great English playwright Edward Bond who immediately became a mentor for Edwards.

Edwards calls his theatre the Theatre of The Evicted and plays like Looking For The World (Sherman Main Stage, Cardiff, 1986); Long To Rain Over Us (The Haymarket, Leicester 1987); Low People (The Haymarket, Leicester 1989) and the fourth world (Theatr Clwyd, 1990) are early expressions of his theories.

Through Bond, Edwards was introduced to the Royal Court Theatre which awarded Edwards a small grant from the Neville Blond Fund to research a play about the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. The result of this research was the play Wittgenstein’s Daughter produced at The Citizen’s Theatre, Glasgow in 1993. In the previous year, The Citizens Theatre had produced Edwards' Casanova Undone. On both occasions, Edwards worked with the Goethe Award winning director Robert David MacDonald. It was also at this time that Edwards’ work began to be published by Oberon Books Ltd. London.

In 1992, Edwards began a collaboration with Mark Dornford May and Broomhill Opera in Kent and produced the libretto for The Juniper Tree with composer Andrew Toovey and the book for the reworked Beggar’s Opera, The Beggars’ New Clothes with the Eos Ensemble and conductor Charles Hazlewood.

Throughout the nineties, while producing the plays Utah Blue, a drama about the life and death of convicted murderer Gary Gilmore (The Point, Cardiff 1995 and NIDA, Sydney Australia 2005) and Lola Brecht (UK Tour), Edwards worked extensively with Community/TIE company Spectacle Theatre producing plays for the community – Over Milk Wood (published by Oberon and by Aerola Editors, Tarragon as Sobre El Bosc Lacti) and Kid (Wales and Northern Ireland Tour published by Argraff) as well as those plays collected in the publication The Shakespeare Factory and other plays (Seren).

In 2003, Edwards wrote the libretto for the opera Manifest Destiny co-written with composer Keith Burstein. Manifest Destiny was first produced as a benefit for the Guantanamo Human Rights Commission at The Tricycle Theatre, London and subsequently at the 2005 Edinburgh Festival (The Assembly Rooms) while Edwards' new play Astrakhan (Winter) was also being performed by Cambridge ADC at the festival.

The production of Manifest Destiny at the Edinburgh Festival received a review in the London Evening Standard which, composer Burstein felt, was tantamount to an accusation of justifying terrorism which could have caused the arraignment of the composer and librettist under the new law on the glorification of terrorism which was at that time passing through parliament. Burstein sued The Evening Standard, an action not supported by Edwards. But as a result of the action the press boycotted Edwards play about the French poet Baudelaire The Pimp produced in London in 2006. Edwards made the decision as a result of this that he would no longer work in the theatre. Despite this, The Pimp had a public reading in New York in 2008 and Casanova Undone was produced in Copenhagen in 2009. In 2011, on the tenth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Centre, Manifest Destiny was produced as MD2011 by Opera Close Up at the King’s Head, London.

In 2010 Edwards accepted a commission from Liverpool’s Collective Encounters to work with composer Patrick Dineen and write the street opera Songs For Silence Voices produced in 2011 and 2012 in empty retail premises in the city centre. The opera was subsequently made into a short animated film Poets of Loss. And in 2012 he was commissioned by The Meternik Foundation to work with Brazilian composer Mario Ferraro and a collection of short operas for terminally ill children. The first of these was produced in 2013 in London and Rio de Janeiro. Also in 2013, The Opportunist a play about Lee Harvey Oswald was written for Ann Arbor, University of Michigan where it was given a rehearsed public reading.

Edwards' poetry is published by Oberon Books and Poetry Wales as well as appearing in anthologies. A collection of poems "Walt Whitman and other poems" is published by Oberon. Edwards is currently working on a collection of short stories and a collection of what he calls icepoems. Both collections will be published in 2016.

Edwards teaches Creative Writing at The University of Wales, Lampeterwhere he is managing editor and co-founder with John Lavin of The Lampeter Review.

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