by Carys Svendsen
Way back in September, I wrote a cultural guide of Swansea and mentioned the Dylan Thomas Theatre. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until February that I was able to visit the theatre itself and see The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov. After finally going, I realised that I wanted to share the theatre with Waterfront readers and once again, I present a sneak peek into culture spots in Swansea.
First of all, I just want to say this outright: if you’re thinking of the building in the marina by the Sainsbury’s, I have news for you- that’s not the Dylan Thomas Theatre. I thought the same when I was invited to a performance of The Cherry Orchard and I thought it was a good idea to check the venue first, as to which there was an amused receptionist redirecting me to the theatre itself, whilst I was standing in the Dylan Thomas Centre.
Home to the Swansea Little Theatre, The Dylan Thomas Theatre is almost next to the Waterfront Museum, opposite The Pump House (a very cool looking restaurant) and still situated in the marina. Google Maps may confuse you, something that I found out on the night of a performance as I was walking behind the marina, but stick with it- you’ll get there. Just look for a building on the corner which is clearly labelled as ‘The Dylan Thomas Theatre’. You literally can’t miss it once you know it’s there, but, if you’re anything like me, you’ll miss it when you try to find it the first time too!
Once you enter the doors, you enter a large area full of tables and chairs. To your left is the box office, and if you walk in an almost straight line from the doors, you’ll find the bar. At the left of the bar, you’ll find the doors to your seat as well as an up-close view of the stage. Inside, you’ll get the feeling that the theatre is a pocket-sized Taliesin, and that’s what I love about it. It’s got fairly old seating with a little bit of leg room (strategic positioning is required, but there is a little more room than Taliesin seating) and, once you take your seat, make sure to have a look at your surroundings. The building was offered by Swansea Council to the theatre company in 1979, was opened to the public in 1983, and the heritage of the building is evident all around you. It’s a building filled with wonder as well as a strong sense of community spirit.
The Swansea Little Theatre (SLT) revolves around the local drama community due to its members being entirely community members in all aspects of the theatre itself, including directing to technical work, and even to premises management, the theatre company is a part of the heart of Swansea’s community. The Dylan Thomas link isn’t just through its name either. Dylan Thomas himself was a member of the Company in the 1930s and his daughter, Aeronwy Thomas Ellis was an active member and president of SLT. Their current president is Huw Dylan Ellis, the grandson of Dylan Thomas. The theatre itself has housed a Thomas for nearly 3 generations- an impressive feat.
So, if you ever find yourself looking for a new theatre venue, then I highly recommend spending an evening at the Dylan Thomas Theatre. Although the prices aren’t as cheap as Taliesin, the atmosphere is unique and welcoming and worth checking out either for a performance or just to visit the venue itself.