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Thwarted plans to launch Welsh national theatre – 50 years ago in The Stage

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July 24, 1969: Four decades ago, proposals for a national theatre for Wales stalled due to ongoing disagreements about the location and administration of the company

We reported on the early, stalled efforts to launch a Welsh national theatre. It would not be until 2003 that Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, the Welsh language national theatre, was founded and a further six years until National Theatre Wales – the English-language version – was set up.

In 1969, we reported: “It had been hoped that the first sod would have been cut in connection with the Welsh National Theatre at Cardiff this year, to mark the Investiture of the Prince of Wales. The latest step to be taken is an urgent review by the Welsh Arts Council, following a report and recommendation of the estimates committee of MPs who deal with grants for the arts. It is now stated that the difficulties over the title have been worked out, for reference is now made to the Welsh National Theatre Company.

“The review will look into the grant to the Welsh National Theatre Company, and the possibility of establishing the company in Cardiff and Swansea, for in both cities the councils have now taken over the theatres in both towns. The idea is to provide performances in English and in Welsh at the New, Cardiff, and the Grand, Swansea. The executive committee of the National Theatre for Wales will prepare a constitution, which will amalgamate the present Welsh Theatre Company, which is sponsored by the Welsh Arts Council, and the St David’s Trust, in this way settling an unnecessary and long-standing disagreement. The Members of Parliament have recommended that the Arts Council should start negotiations with local authorities in Wales with a view to financing a national professional drama company before the building of the National Theatre in Cardiff.”

If you’d like to read more stories from the history of theatre, all previous content from The Stage is available at the British Newspaper Archive in a convenient, easy-to-access format. Please visit: thestage.co.uk/archive

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