Yesterday saw the launch of ‘Grav’, my latest, and certainly the most high profile play of my writing career. The launch was held at Parc Y Scarlets, home to the Scarlets rugby team, in front of 250 invited members of the press, sponsors, friends, family, players and ex-players. The launch comprised of a film on the big screen in the stadium about the play before an extract was performed pitch side in front of the assembled guests. The extract was also filmed by everyone from BBC, ITV, S4C and even Sky Sports News who are showing extracts of it today every hour! (I never thought I would have my name mentioned on Sky Sports News, as the teachers who play football with me on a Friday will gladly testify). There were lots of speeches by people including the Chief Executive of the Scarlets and lots of interviews throughout the day which showed that there is a huge interest in this play from all around the world.
‘Grav’ is a one man show performed by my friend and long-time collaborator Gareth Bale (the actor, not the footballer) about the life of Ray Gravell. If you haven’t heard of him, Ray Gravell was a Welsh Rugby International who made 23 appearances for Wales as well as 485 appearances for Llanelli RFC. He then went on to become a hugely respected actor, commentator and broadcaster as well as much loved husband and father. Tragically Ray passed away in 2007 at the age of 56 years old due to complications arising from diabetes. But, as American Baseball star Babe Ruth once said,
‘Heroes get remembered, but legends never die’.
Yes, his life was comparatively short, but it was packed with drama and incident making him the ideal subject for a piece of theatre. With the blessing of his widow and his daughters as well as contributions from his friends and ex-players who played alongside him I have spent 2 years researching and writing this play. Taking on the life of a much loved figure is a huge challenge and not without risk, so I was thrilled to talk to Mari, Ray’s widow, after the performance and hear that she loved the extract and is excited to see the whole play. Three weeks today it opens in Milford Haven at the Torch Theatre, the first of 30 performances in 19 theatres right around Wales.
The launch also marked the unveiling of the official show website, www.gravcymru.co.uk which, if you’re interested, contains more details about the play, the tour dates and the man himself.
The play has been developed at the Torch Theatre in Milford Haven and is being directed by their Artistic Director, Peter Doran. Tickets are available at all venues, but some are selling out quickly due to the huge interest in the man and his life. More locally it is on at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff from 9th to 11th March.
Come along and find out more about Ray Gravell, and see for yourself why ‘West is Best’
Mr Thomas – Head of Performing Arts