Sport and pasttime in wales

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Theatre in Wales

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Theatre and performance in Wales

The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were the golden age of theatre in England but it was not until the eighteenth century that there developed a dramatic tradition in Wales in the form of the interlude or ‘anterliwt’.  This was a form of theatre performed in fairs, markets and pubs to entertain bystanders.  Many interludes involved an element of social or political satire and tended to contain a moral and spiritual message whilst at the same time being comedic in nature.  44 interludes survive in manuscript or print form.  The most famous interlude writer of the period was Thomas Edwards, better known as ‘Twm o’r Nant’.

While the interlude was a popular genre in Wales in the eighteenth century, the gentry-folk tended to enjoy performances from English companies in private theatres.  The nineteenth century saw the opening of theatres in some of Wales’s larger towns while at the same time there remained a strong tradition of travelling companies or portable theatres.  Nonconformists disapproved of this form of popular culture and such was their influence that it signalled the end of the interlude and affected theatre in Wales generally.


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The Welsh Academy Encylopaedia of Wales (Cardiff, 2008)