Play tackles new Wylfa nuclear power station arguments

By Huw Thomas
BBC Wales arts and media correspondent

Image caption,
Rehearsals for Hollti, which opens on 8 August

A new play about Anglesey's nuclear power industry will rely solely on transcripts of interviews.

Hollti by Welsh language national theatre company, Theatr Genedlaethol, focuses on plans for a new £10bn replacement for Wylfa near Cemaes.

The power station has yet to receive the go-ahead but the long-running debate over its construction has inspired the production.

Interviews were carried out with workers, scientists and opponents.

Writer Manon Wyn Williams assembled the transcripts into a verbatim drama - which means Split in English. It will be staged at Ysgol Uwchradd Bodedern from 8-11 August.

The drama is performed in Welsh, with English language audio description available through the company's Sibrwd smartphone app.

Image source, Horizon
Image caption,
A third formal consultation on the Wylfa Newydd plans ended in June

Sarah Bickerton has directed the play and said it reflected all sides of the debate.

She said: "The arguments for and against are explored in this play. And from exploring those arguments, lots of other things have actually come as talking points that are linked to this idea that there's going to be a change.

"How that might affect the language, how it affects the remote community, how it affects the idea that people need work.

"And how that affects the world at the moment, and how we look after our world - or not. How we put on a switch to turn on the lights, charge our phones. So it bubbles up into lots of topics being discussed in the play that are all related to the idea of how we create energy."

During the performance each actor plays several different roles, often on opposing sides of the debate.

While the identities of people who were interviewed are largely kept anonymous, the anti-nuclear campaigner Robat Idris confirmed he had spoken to the writers.

Mr Idris said he was looking forward to seeing the play when it opened: "For us, as opponents, it will be interesting to hear what people who genuinely support it for various reasons have to say as well.

"Because I think it would be naive of us to expect that all of our arguments would be presented and nobody else's. I think it is a healthy thing, of course, that we have a proper dialogue."

Wylfa Newydd is expected to create 850 permanent jobs and Horizon, the firm behind it, hopes to start generating power by 2025.

Horizon did not contribute an interview to the production process but welcomed the drama.

Richard Foxhall, company spokesman, said it would help "encapsulate" the debate.

"I think it is fantastic that the national theatre have come up with a really original idea, to actually try and encapsulate what local sentiment is," he said.

"We know there are people who are opposed to the project but certainly we know there is a huge amount of very strong support for the project as well."

Media caption,
Actor Dafydd Emyr drew on his own experiences of growing up on Anglesey

The cast of actors include Siw Hughes, Gwyn Vaughan Jones and Dafydd Emyr.

Mr Emyr grew up on Anglesey and said he was aware of the debate about Wylfa from an early age.

"I would hope that I am drawing on the experiences that I have had as a child because I grew up with all of this issue in the background.

"I had lots of parents of friends who actually worked in Wylfa and also people who were against, so it has always been a contentious issue on Anglesey.

"Because I am playing a range - a spectrum - of attitudes towards and against the nuclear industry then, yes, I am hopefully drawing on my own experiences."

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