of Urdd Gobaith Cymru marched with their banners to pack the large
platform and to open the National Eisteddfod with the national songs of
Wales here today.
was a wise innovation on the part of the Wrexham Eisteddfod Committee,
for the presence of the Urdd was symbolic of the part played by youth in
longer can carping critics mock the Eisteddfod as the last resort of
hoary bards, and no longer will grim prophecies of the death of the
Eisteddfod be made.
the ceremony was more impressive than the usual Monday performance,
which is often depressing. The growth of the Urdd is a sign that a new
spirit is rushing through the country, comparable with youth movements
in other countries. One characteristic of the post-war generation
throughout the world has been the surging of youth movements for the
purpose of destroying the old hatreds.
with other youth movements in Europe the Welsh movement is upon a far
more tolerant and wider basis. It is not tainted with hatred, nor is its
scope limited by narrow-mindedness or a framework of political fear.
has idealism like the Hitler, Mussolini, and Communist youth movements,
without the draw-backs which make one fear for the youth of Germany,
Italy, and Russia.
the wonder is that the Urdd compares so well in size with these foreign
movements, for the latter are financed and driven by all the power of
great political forces. There are 55,000 members of the Urdd. When you
take into consideration the population of Wales and compare it with
England, the number is equlvalent to a membership of over 1,000,000 in
Great Britain, about 1,500,000 in Germany, and of 5,000,000 in Russia.
If the youth movements of Germany and Italy were run on the same
principle as the Urdd we could be full of hope for the future of Europe.
week I visited the Urdd camp at Llangranog, Cardiganshire, and was
impressed by the fine spirit of the children.
performance of “Everyman” was in line with the best European
traditions. It was last presented on the grand scale at Salzburg, where
Reinhardt was the producer and where it was acted in the open air in
front of the cathedral.
the heart of Europe, where snow-covered mountains looking down added a
peculiar beauty to the play, it has come to Wrexham where its simple
human appeal touched the Welsh audience as much as it did the Austrians.
part taken by Germany’s greatest actor, Alexander Moissi, in Salzburg,
was taken here by Clifford Evans, who showed at Neath in the play of the
Welsh National Theatre that he has gifts of producing as well as acting.
scenery and lighting effects were dignified, and fitted the simple but
deep message and moral truths which the old morality play teaches.
Indeed, it was impressive to note than in spite of the mediaeval setting
and rich costumes of long ago,” Everyman” had present-day lessons
for every eisteddfodwr present.
the audience may change, and although science may have carried us beyond
the Middle Ages, the fundamental teachings of this centuries old play
still apply to each one of us. The poor neighbour, the debtor, good
deeds, the mother, and, above all, death are still among us, and that is
why the play has a big influence upon those who saw it.
this effect would not have been reached without the magnificent
production of Dr. Hock and the generosity of Lord Howard de Walden.
two innovations, the drama “Everyman” and the Urdd welcome, have
made the first day of Wrexham Eisteddfod a memorable one in Eisteddfod
the performance of “Everyman” I had a talk with Dame Sybil Thorndike,
who expressed her admiration for the work done. She said:
is one of the most wonderful things, if not the most wonderful thing, I
have ever seen in my life. I was carried away by it. It was beautiful. I
find it hard to believe that the members of the cast were not all
professional actors. They were born for the stage. As for Mr. Clifford
Evans, I think he has a brilliant future.”
Phyllis Neilson Terry also told me: “It was too beautiful. The timing
was perfect and the cast worked together wonderfully. I am not only
deeply impressed, but also deeply moved.”
seat was on the aisle along which one of the characters, the Devil, was
to rush from the backof the audience to the stage. A man came up to me
and said: “Be careful of your chair and legs, because the Devil will
neighbour, a minister of the Gospel, turned to me and said: “Don’t
be alarmed. The Devil is only a Methodist deacon!”