August 14 at 7:00 pm
August 15 at 8:00 pm
First United Methodist Church, 420 N Nevada Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80903 [map]
Tickets $20; $15 for Students/Military/Children. Tickets available through Eventbrite. Please select the appropriate performance (8-14-14 or 8-15-15). You may also order by phone through the Colorado Springs Conservatory front desk at (719) 577-4556.
World premiere – The award-winning novel by Richard Llewellyn is transformed through song in this story of courage. Mining brings unwelcome changes to a small community in Wales – both to their lives and to their once beloved green valley. Main character Huw Morgan finds his own way as he grows into manhood amidst family crisis.
Synopsis - Spoiler Alert!
How Green Was My Valley is the story of South Wales just after the turn of the twentieth century – and of a large, loving family of indomitable spirit. Against a backdrop of rolling hills, slag from the mines is creeping across the once-green Valley….threatening its richness and beloved way of life as the British Empire meets the Industrial Age.
A story told in song, of a people who sing with the fullness of courage through happiness and hardship, is, too, the story of Huw, youngest of the Morgans. It is in this time of change, that Huw (age 9/Act I) struggles to reconcile his love for home with anguished questions as formidable forces challenge his Valley. His innocence is lost – like the Valley his father knew – as an oppressive Church, and marginalization of the Welsh harshly impose themselves on all he loves. The green and the sun on the Valley’s hills begin to darken like the dark of the mine. The screech and clanking of the winding wheel and cage, the shriek of the whistle warning of disaster are counterpoint to the transcendent song of the miners and their families.
Huw witnesses his father Gwilym’s brush with disaster in the mine, his brother Davy’s warning of cut wages and neglectful mining practices. He hears the men, once friendly, blame Gwilym for standing in the way of unionization when he seeks only to protect their jobs. Like his eldest brother Ivor, it is for Huw’s abiding love of his Da and the tradition of the Valley that he abandons other choices, and vows to take his place down the mine.
At the National School, young Huw is harassed and beaten by a self-loathing teacher, taught to fight (like a Welshman!), falls forever in love with his brother’s young bride….and then vows to care for her and the child she carries when Ivor dies in a mine explosion. He accompanies his Mam, Beth, as she risks safety in the blinding snow to warn the miners she will kill them should harm come to Gwilym. Huw is outraged and confronts the Church Deacons as they terrorize and excommunicate a young, pregnant girl. He, like his sister Angharad, idolizes the Valley’s new and practical Minister, Mr. Gruffydd, who becomes his mentor and friend. And he suffers with Angharad as she leaves home to wed the mine-owner’s son when Gruffydd refuses to subject her to a married life of poverty.
At the end of Act I, a 9 yr old Huw follows as the miners, voices proud in song, go deep below in the cage, the winding wheel grinding.
Ten years later, Act II, and winter snow covers the grey of the Valley. Men, used up and out of work, walk like shadows. They have been on strike, and life hangs by a thread. Huw helps his nephew Gareth (now Huw’s age in Act I) find lumps of coal, as Bronwen looks on. She reveals that Angharad is returned to the Valley, but living alone as Iestyn has become a drunkard, and that she still loves Gruffydd. The winds sweep the snow around and sacrifice hangs in the air.
Huw becomes increasingly frustrated; the earth has been plundered and wages have disappeared. Now openly defiant, the miners call for revolution! Even Davy fears reason will be lost. English soldiers arrive and the men swear to flood the pits….but Gwilym goes below to keep the boilers working. His regret and despair grow as he wonders what the future will hold for his sons.
In the Evans mansion, Angharad is unaware of the gossiping housekeeper and her cronies. They cruelly sing of unfaithfulness…and eagerly approach the Deacons with news of visits between Angharad and Gruffydd. Angharad sings only of the wealth of love and the poverty of its absence, and Huw confesses to his sister his long love for Bron.
Huw passes the church as the Deacon Mr. Parry calls for Gruffydd to be driven out and Angharad shunned. He knocks the malevolent Parry to the ground!
Gruffydd prepares to leave the Valley. Gwilym sadly says goodbye and goes back down the mine. Gruffydd gives Huw his pocket watch, which has marked Time he has loved. And Huw wanders up into the hills where he bemoans that he, too, has failed his Valley. He thinks of emigrating – raising the wind! – and what he might be able to accomplish in another place. Of one thing there is no doubt…that the Valley and he (like the Valley and his father, and his father before him) are one, wherever he may go.
Angharad convinces Gruffydd that together they can bring strength and good works elsewhere in the world…and that poverty does not exist where love lives. As they ride off together, Gareth is telling Bron that he, too, will go down the mine. Horrified, she says that the mine takes life and begs Huw to affirm for Gareth that he is the future. Huw promises to keep Gareth away from the colliery. Then, the whistle! The mine has flooded and Huw descends – crying out ‘Da!’ – finding his dying father.
Beth laments as she washes the coal dust from Gwilym’s body and commands Huw to leave the Valley!
Confessing his love for her, Huw begs Bron to come away. Her love for Ivor will keep her there, but she will allow Gareth to go as his Uncle Huw will make a better life for them both. Huw hoists Gareth on his shoulders; the music How Green Was My Valley swells as they climb the hill on their way to a new life.
© September 15, 2013 Elizabeth Bassine