Ed Thomas honoured as Fellow

16 July 2014

Ms Gwerfyl Pierce Jones, Vice-President of Aberystwyth University, presenting Ed Thomas as Fellow.
Ms Gwerfyl Pierce Jones, Vice-President of Aberystwyth University, presenting Ed Thomas as Fellow.

Playwright, director and producer, Ed Thomas, has been honoured as Fellow of Aberystwyth University.

A founder member and creative director of TV production company Fiction Factory, Ed Thomas has written, directed or produced more than 120 hours of award-winning drama across all genres.

His first play, House of America (1988) won numerous awards both nationally and internationally.

His other plays include East From the Gantry, Flowers of the Dead Red Sea, Song From a Forgotten City, Gas Station Angel and Stone City Blue.

He has also produced a number of drama programmes for S4C including Caerdydd, Y Pris, Pen Talar, Gwaith/Cartref, and most recently Hinterland/Y Gwyll, a detective series produced in Welsh and English for S4C, BBC and distributed internationally by All3Media.

Much of Hinterland was filmed in and around the University and Ed was instrumental in establishing a number of placements for University students during its filming.

Ed Thomas was presented by Dr Kate Woodward of the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies on Wednesday 16 July.

Presentation by Dr Kate Woodward.

“Ed Thomas

Madam Is-Lywydd, Is-Ganghellor, darpar raddedigion, gyfeillion, braint a phleser yw cyflwyno Ed Thomas yn gymrawd o Brifysgol Aberystwyth.

President / Vice President, Vice Chancellor, soon to be graduates and friends, it is my privilege and pleasure to present Ed Thomas as a Fellow of Aberystwyth University.

Mae Ed yn ddramodydd, yn gyfarwyddwr, yn gynhyrchydd ac yn sylfaenydd a chyfarwyddwr creadigol y cwmni ffilm a theledu annibynnol Fiction Factory. Rydyn ni wrth ein bodd dy fod yma gyda ni heddiw, ac mae’n hyfryd cael croesawi dy deulu atom ni hefyd.

Yng Nghwmgïedd mae stori Ed Thomas yn cychwyn, yn y pentref bach hwnnw ger Ystradgynlais sy’n enwog am fod yn leoliad saethu i ffilm nodedig Humphrey Jennings, Silent Village. Yn fab i’r cigydd lleol Edward (a ymddangosodd yn Silent Village), a’i wraig Mair, fe wnaeth drama nodweddu ei fywyd yn ifanc iawn. Wrth chwarae gyda ffrind iddo ar ôl bod yn Ysgol Ynysgedwyn, syrthiodd o goeden ac i mewn i’r Afon Giedd. Yn ddifywyd a’i gorff wedi troi’n las, datganwyd yn ddiseremoni ei fod wedi marw. Rydym ni’n ffodus nad dyna oedd diwedd y stori, ac y gwnaeth un o ddramodwyr disgleiriaf Cymru oroesi’r ddrama gynnar honno.

Hailed as Wales’ greatest living dramatist, Ed is also a director and producer, and the founding member and creative director of the independent film and tv company Fiction Factory. He has often said that “to be Welsh in the twenty-first century you’ve got to have imagination”, and thankfully for Wales, Ed has imagination in spades. As a dramatist, House of America, the first production of his company Y Cwmni, exploded onto the stage in the Royal Court in 1988 and was an instant success. It won the Time out Award for Best New Play in London, was later adapted into a feature film. That film premiered at Sundance Festival and won numerous awards including 10 BAFTA Cymru awards. The plays that followed, including Flowers of the Dead Red Sea, East from the Gantry, Song From a Forgotten City and Gas Station Angel were part of an effort to write a new national narrative and create a ‘new mythology’ for Wales.  Ed’s work has tackled the question of Welsh national identity with the head-on force of rugby fullback, merging the familiar and the supernatural and blending it with the stereotypical and adding an enormous shot of unique imagination.

Er y gwreiddiwyd y dramâu hyn yng Nghymru, roedd iddynt adenydd, wrth iddynt deithio trwy’r Deyrnas Unedig i bellafion Ewrop, Awstralia a De America, a chael eu cyfieithu i ieithoedd dirifedi a’u pherfformio ar nifer o lwyfannau nodedig. Yn ystod y refferedwm ar ddatganoli, bu Ed yn lladmerydd cyson a beiddgar ar gyfer yr ymgyrch ‘Ie’ yn y refferendwm. I’r rheini ohonom sy’n ddigon ffodus i fwynhau arlwy Fiction Factory ar S4C gwelsom ymhlith eraill Caerdydd, y ddrama ôl-ddatganoledig cyntaf, yn cynnwys holl shenanigans y Senedd, daeth Y Pris â’r maffia i Sir Gar, dogfennodd Pen Talar hanner can mlynedd o hanes cenedlaetholdeb Cymreig, a bywydau gwaith a charwriaethau niferus athrawon un ysgol ddinesig a geir yn Gwaith Cartref.

But I do think, and indeed, very much hope, that Ed is the only individual to be presented as a fellow of this University who has been directly responsible for an increasing number of deaths in Aberystwyth and the surrounding area. For as co-creator of the detective series Y Gwyll / Hinterland, Ed and his dedicated team turned our beloved seaside town into a dark and quite horrific place, where our only saviour is the bobble hatted DCI Mathias.  Thanks to Ed, many of you graduating here today have been fortunate enough to have completed work placements on a series that has been sold to many countries throughout the world and is also playing on Netflix in the US.

Ed once said that ‘My job is to imagine a dramatic landscape, which may include the past and may not.  When I’m talking about Wales, I’m really talking about myself’ but Ed’s achievement is to make us feel as though he is talking on behalf of us all. In House of America after debating the merits of Harry Secombe and Elvis Presley as heroes, Sid asks Boyo ‘Where are our heroes?  Our kings? One answer mate, we haven’t got any’. Wales has certainly moved on since 1998, Ed Thomas too, and surely he is a hero and an inspiration to any young person hoping for a future in the creative industries in Wales.

Is-Lywydd, mae’n fraint ac yn bleser gennyf gyflwyno i chi Ed Thomas, yn Gymrawd Prifysgol Aberystwyth.”

Graduation 2014

Eleven Fellows are being honoured this week by Aberystwyth University during this year’s Graduation ceremonies which take place at the University’s Arts Centre from Monday 14 until Friday 18 July.

The title of Fellow is awarded to individuals who have a close association with Aberystwyth and the University, or who have made an outstanding contribution to professional or public life in Wales.

Also being honoured are:

  • D. Geraint Lewis, author, former Education and Children’s Librarian for Dyfed and Assistant Director of Education at Ceredigion County Council.
  • Professor John Harries, renowned atmospheric physicist and Wales’ first Chief Scientific Adviser.
  • Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East Editor.
  • Sir Michael Moritz, Cardiff-born venture capitalist and philanthropist.
  • Rhodri Meilir, actor and Aberystwyth graduate who recently appeared in the National Theatre of Wales’ highly acclaimed Mametz.
  • Rhod Gilbert, comedian and radio and TV presenter.
  • Professor Bonnie Buntain, Assistant Dean Professor of Public Health at the University of Calgary in Canada and former Chief Public Health Veterinarian at the Food Safety and Inspection Service for the US Department of Agriculture.
  • Dr John Sheehy, Emeritus Head of Applied Photosynthesis and Systems Modelling Laboratory at the International Rice Research Institute and an alumnus of Aberystwyth University.
  • Brian Jones, farmer, entrepreneur, and founder and Managing Director of Castell Howell Foods Ltd.
  • Baroness Kay Andrews, Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords, former Chair of English Heritage and an Aberystwyth alumna.

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