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Theatr Fach, celebrating 50 years

Updated: Jul 24, 2021

It may well be that every actor's ambition is to appear on the "West End" or "Broadway" stage, but relatively few have made their first appearance's on those stages.

However, it's amazing to think how many actors got their first opportunities here on Anglesey while supporting one of the many drama companies that have existed on the island over the years. Yes, the 'drama' on Anglesey was very much alive throughout the last century with local companies thriving and keeping audiences entertained whilst causing quite a bit of head-scratching for some critics too! So it was in Llangefni, which established itself as the main town of the island, and so naturally, it was here that the impetus and guidance to ensure the play became, and continues to be, a means of communication and entertainment.

The Theatr Fach program for the August 1957 Eisteddfod week summarizes the history of the theater's founding: “Llangefni's Theatr Fach opened in the old Pencraig barn on May 3rd, 1955 when two one-act plays were staged. There was room for an audience of 63 but not much comfort from the weather.

Yet the enthusiasm was so great that our membership increased (we started with 18 in 1949) from 304 to over 650 members who have paid their membership for this year. It became clear that we would need to expand the theatre to include our new members and so, with the support of the Welsh Church Act Fund, we undertook the work in May of this year. The changes cost close to £1,000 but members have been very generous and today only a small amount of money is still available before paying all the bills. And we have a theater that seats 110 comfortably.

In 1949 the Society's plays were first staged in the County School Hall and permission was granted to use the laboratory, as a workshop, in the old school when the Comprehensive School opened in 1953. In 1954, the Education Committee decided to remove the old school the theatre had to face the fact that they needed to look for a new home. At that time Llangefni Council had purchased the Pencraig Estate. The buildings included a spacious barn and a stable loft along with some other rooms. The Association agreed to try to secure the buildings by buying, if possible, or at least renting them. When the Association first became a tenant, rent was 5 / - a week! Later the venture was bought for £250 which proved to be a worthwhile investment.

At the end of January 1955 a group of about two dozen members of the Society adapted the barn to George Fisher's ideas ... With the instruction of ID Thomas, Deputy County Architect and a member of the Society, the loft and one wall were taken down and the rubble used as a base for a stage ... through the winter and spring months the work went on non-stop for three and a half hours every working night ... buying all kinds of materials, ensuring an adequate supply of electricity, and looking for comfortable chairs for the audience ... not a penny was paid for labor - all the workers were volunteers. ” (See “Francis George Fisher - Bardd a Dramodwr”. Llewelyn Jones Pwyllgor Gwaith Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru Ynys Môn 1983).

As in all periods in the history of the Theatre, a core of people and members worked enthusiastically to do the boring work in secret, as it were, but ensured the success of “the other side of the curtain”. They have been, and are responsible for, the success and survival of the Theatre. The work was completed effectively and all was in place for the official opening on 3 May 1955. (‘Cysgodion Enciliedig: Theatr Fach Llangefni - Dafydd Llewelyn; “Llwyfannau Lleol” Gol. Hazel Walford Davies Gwasg Gomer 2000).

And so it was. Myra Owen, Director of the Welsh Committee of the Arts Council was invited to officially open the Theater on May 3rd, 1955 and performances of 'Russcala' - an adaptation of Pushkin's work by Cynan and Philip Johnson's 'It's Autumn Now' were selected to entertain audiences.

Tecwyn Jones was the producer of Russcala and the cast was Eleanor Webber, Leslie Hodgkins, Owen E. Jones, Diana Jones, Beti Jones, Ann Owenna Evans, Eirian Harries and Edward Jones. The supervisor of the stage was F. G. Fisher.

Margaret Fisher was the producer of 'It's Autumn Now' and the cast was Glasfryn Evans, Barbara Hughes, Gwen Price Evans, Bill Hughes, Kitty Owen, Maureen Roberts. The Supervisor of the Stage was F. G. Fisher.

And as Theatr Fach Llangefni is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, it is good to look back at the mid-twentieth century in order to gain an insight into the establishment of a theater that is so beloved its supporters continue to be a very active means of communication and entertainment.

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