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Y Gŵr Cadarn

25 June 2010

One of the earliest known plays in Welsh has been revived to delight and instruct audiences once again.

Y Gŵr Cadarn (The Strong Man) was written by an anonymous playwright from north Wales during the 16th century. After hundreds of years of neglect, a scholar from Cardiff University’s School of Welsh is presenting it to twenty-first-century audiences.

Dr Sarah Campbell, a Fulbright Scholar studying at the University for ten months has worked closely with Dr Dylan Foster Evans, Senior Lecturer in the School, to prepare an edition of the play for publication.

As part of that project, Dr Campbell also drew on the expertise of Ceri Elen, Welsh playwright and Creative Writing Tutor in the School of Welsh, to recreate the dramatic artefact so that today’s audience might share some of the experience with those play-goers of 400 years ago.

The original play is in four manuscripts, which Dr Campbell and her colleagues have brought together into one script. Their interpretation of the play will be presented to audiences at St Fagans Museum, South Wales on Saturday 26 June.

Speaking about the project, Dr Campbell said: "Though the play hasn’t been performed for hundreds of years, Y Gŵr Cadarn has been known among scholars as a kind of morality play in which characters personify forces of good and evil to teach a moral lesson to the audience. However, as we move from text to performance, we are finding that the play is actually more of a comic interlude – anterliwt - with a moral message and can be viewed as a precursor of the Welsh anterliwtiau popular in the 18th century."

Sponsored by the University’s School of Welsh and St Fagans National History Museum, Y Gŵr Cadarn will be presented in Welsh by the School’s Drama Company.

Performances will take place at 11.30am and 2.00pm in the churchyard of St. Teilo’s, a recently reconstructed medieval church, at St Fagans Museum. The performances are free and open to all members of the public.


1. Cardiff School of Welsh

Innovative and socially-relevant research is conducted in the School of Welsh, and its researchers play a key role in the development of Welsh in the 21st century.

Research in the School ranges from the medieval to the contemporary, from poetry to prose and from children’s literature to women’s studies. It includes both Welsh language and literature and the School is leading the way in areas such as social and international aspects of language planning, critical theory and performance theory.

The excellence of research conducted within the School was acknowledged by the most recent independent government assessment of the quality of research in British universities, which placed the School within the top six academic centres of Celtic Studies in the UK.

The School’s commitment to working with the local community is reflected in the work of its Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Welsh for Adults Centre whose staff teach Welsh to more than 1,700 adults in the Cardiff area.

The School is one of the oldest departments of Welsh in Wales. For over a century the department has contributed to the life and culture of Wales, and has produced eminent scholars and writers, including W. J. Gruffydd, G J Williams, A. O. H. Jarman and Saunders Lewis.

2. Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

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3. For further information

Victoria Dando

Public Relations

Cardiff University

Tel: 02920 879074