Dylan Thomas reads an extract from In Parenthesis by David Jones
Dylan Thomas the actor in David Jones' play on the First World War.
Dylan Thomas and Richard Burton – the 2 most famous Welshmen in the British literary scene in the middle part of the 20th century only ever appeared on stage together once. This was in an experimental radio adaptation of David Jones’ epic war poem ‘In Parenthesis’, based on Jones’ experiences at the battle of Mametz Wood in the First World War. Originally planned for a live performance on the BBC Third Programme in November 1942, it had to be cancelled at the last minute as Winston Churchill had made a major speech that night on recent successes in the Second World War (ironic given the subject matter of the poem). The first performance of the radio play finally took place in 1946 when producer Douglas Clevedon recorded a new live version; Dylan Thomas played Private Dai Evans, while young and ( at the time unknown) actor Richard Burton had the small part of Private Thomas and filled in with some songs. The Burton parts of this performance are now sadly lost. A later performance in 1964 had Richard Burton playing the main part of Private John Ball. Douglas Clevedon was however very taken with Dylan Thomas’ performance in the 1946 play and layered in a recording of Thomas reading the famous section ‘Dai’s Boast’ (a kind of potted military history of Wales going back to the 6th century battle fought by the Gododdin tribe) into this version. An extract from this is heard here. Clevedon’s wife Nest is interviewed recalling the professionalism shown by Dylan Thomas as a radio actor.