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Look who's coming to Swansea! Lord of the Rings star Ian McKellen signs up for 36-hour Dylan Thomas reading

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: August 21, 2014

By Peter Slee

Oscar nominated actor Ian McKellan is joining a 36-marathon reading of Dylan Thomas's works.

Oscar nominated actor Ian McKellan is joining a 36-marathon reading of Dylan Thomas's works.

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OSCAR nominated star Ian McKellen is to join the 36-hour marathon reading of Dylan Thomas's works in Swansea this autumn.

Mr McKellen, the recipient of six Laurence Olivier Awards and whose work spans genres ranging from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction, has signed up to join a line-up of stars for the event which also includes Hollywood stars Michael Sheen and Matthew Rhys as well as the BBC's economics editor Robert Peston.

It will take place at Swansea's Grand Theatre running from 11am on October 26 through until 11pm on October 27 — exactly 100 years to the day of Thomas' birth. Swansea Bay schoolchildren and community groups will also be involved in the ambitious project alongside choirs and bands.

Ruth Jones, Rob Brydon and Sian Phillips are also scheduled to take part in the Dylathon .

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The non-stop reading of the works of Dylan Thomas in the city of his birth will be the climax to the poet's official 2014 centenary celebrations.

Emmy Award-winning actress Greta Scacchi, actors Jonathan Pryce and Charles Dale, former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Rowan Williams are also possibles to be part of the extravaganza which will be directed by Olivier award-winner Michael Bogdanov from Neath.

The Dylathon will include all of Thomas's popular short stories, poems and broadcasts including Under Milk Wood and will feature local schoolchildren reading poems he wrote as a boy, specially commissioned musical compositions and unpublished letters. Supported by the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival and Swansea Council, proceeds from the event will go to The Prince's Foundation For Children and the Arts. Thomas fans from throughout the world can buy tickets for the entire 36 hours, for 12 hours or for a three-hour block. The final session will feature some of the best known poems and readings by Hannah Ellis , Thomas' granddaughter and Dylathon patron, as well as the Prince of Wales's recording of Fern Hill.

"I am a Dylan Thomas nut, a collector of first editions and memorabilia," said Mr Bogdanov. "I have directed Under Milk Wood 11 times, including productions in German and Japanese and adapted numerous short stories for the stage.

"It is a great privilege now to be involved so intimately and comprehensively with the man whose writing changed the face of 20th century poetry and the radio play. We are working flat out to make The Dylathon a fitting climax to the celebrations."

Author and Dylan expert Jeff Towns said: "Dylan Thomas's centenary year has, is, and will continue to surprise and enthral. But The Dylathon is something quite different and very special, and I feel privileged to have been involved in the project from the start, and aim to be there at the finish.

"There has been a strong desire to go beyond the legend and return and focus anew on Dylan's actual writings — and what could do this more powerfully than a continuous marathon reading of his entire canon."

Tickets to the event are on sale now. Visit www.dylathon100.com for programme descriptions and booking details.

How you can get involved

Are you a Dylan Thomas nut? Do you have a story about him to tell? Did you meet him perhaps? Now the search is on for audience readers for The Dylathon — the 36 hour non-stop reading of Dylan Thomas' works over the centenary of his birth on October 26/27.

The Dylathon takes place in 12, three-hour sessions, beginning at 11am on Sunday October 26 and finishing at 11pm on Monday October 27 , the hour of his birth. Each session will include a South Wales Evening Post reader spot allowing pre-selected members of the public to be invited on stage to read a short Dylan poem, passage or letter selected by the project's director and co-ordinator Michael Bogdanov.

Want to get involved in this one-off special? Then email or write to us here at the Post with a brief explanation of why you want to read. Perhaps it's the poem your father read to you as a child. Or perhaps your parents or another relative met Thomas or saw him perform. Maybe it's a poem that was read on your wedding day or the magic of his broadcasts or Under Milk Wood.

Michael Bogdanov will have the final decision as to who performs what and when, and each reader will be seated in the audience for the chosen session and be invited up onto the stage at the appropriate time. The best replies will be published online and the names of the readers will be included in the official list of contributors alongside such luminaries as Sir Ian McKellen!

So dig deep for that treasured memory or story and become part of an unique and unforgettable event. Then either e-mail us at postnews@swwmedia.co.uk marking the subject box 'Dylathon' or send a letter to us here at: Jo Leworthy, Evening Post, Urban Village, High Street, Swansea, SA1 1NW.

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