The winner of the Anglesey National Eisteddfod Drama Medal is a teacher from Carmarthenshire.
Using the nom de plume Twm Shwrgryn, Heiddwen Tomos’ play, Milwr yn y Meddwl (Soldier in the Mind), which deals with PTSD was deemed worthy of this year’s coveted prize. Heiddwen came second in the competition in 2014, and third in 2013 and last year. This year, she was honoured with the Drama Medal in today’s ceremony on the Pavilion stage.
The Drama Medal is presented for a stage play of any length. The most promising play with the most potential for further development with a professional company is awarded the Medal, presented in memory of Urien Wiliam, by his wife, Eiryth and the children, Hywel, Sioned and Steffan, and £750, donated by the Huw Roberts Memorial Fund, Pwllheli.
This year’s adjudicators were Siân Summers, Sara Lloyd and Tony Llewelyn Roberts, and speaking on behalf of the three, Tony Roberts said, “It’s great to see so many people attempting a difficult task which rarely results in their work being seen on stage. A poem is a poem from the second it is written on paper but a successful play is dependent on the commitment and vision of other artists so it can be shown in its final form.
“As adjudicators, we were very aware that we were considering the first step in the creative process. We were looking for individuals whose work showed the ability to develop dialogue and stage their ideas but also we were hoping to be presented with originality of expression and, if not a masterpiece, at least a vision that could be nurtured and refined.
Commenting on the work of Twm Shwgryn, he says, "This is a play with a theatrical and powerful introduction. It is about a PTSD illness that follows the period of the main character as an active soldier in some of the most fierce and unpleasant wars of recent years. We follow him as he tries to cope with life as a civilian after he was injured and left in a wheelchair.
"The language flows naturally throughout. There is extensive use of slang and some use of English but this is not linguistic laziness. The English language is used as the voice of the British military establishment that has oppressed the main character. The slang reflects the way in which community and layers of society in contemporary Wales often use language. If that is sad, it's also realistic, and if the main purpose of a drama is to reflect society, then Twm Shwgryn is successful. She has a clear awareness and understanding of theatre and of what works in the medium.
"As the competition asks for ‘the most promising play with the most potential for further development with a professional company’, we can be confident that our winner today will have the opportunity over the next year to identify and improve on weaknesses, develop and highlight strengths, to experiment with alternative forms of linguistic expression and extend and enjoy the work that has brought them here."
Originally from Llanybydder, Heiddwen Tomos lives in Pengarreg, Carmarthenshire and is Head of Performing Arts, Ysgol Bro Teifi, Llandysul. She won the Prose Medal at Lampeter Eisteddfod in 2012, the Taliesin and BBC short story competition in 2015, and has won the Young Farmers' Eisteddfod Chair twice. This year, she published her first novel, Dŵr yn yr Afon (Gwasg Gomer), and has also published stories for Gwasg y Bwthyn.
She is married to Siôn and has three children, Gruff, Swyn and Tirion.