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Obituary: David Ponting – actor, writer and teacher who portrayed Dylan Thomas more than 700 times

David Ponting in Dylan Thomas, the Man and Myth

David Ponting presented his one-man show Dylan Thomas, the Man and the Myth, more than 700 times on both sides of the Atlantic.

Backed by the Welsh Tourist Board and with the approval of Thomas’s daughter Aeronwy, he appeared at a number of gatherings of the ex-pat Welsh in North America organisation, performing the show at New York’s Chelsea Hotel, where Thomas stayed just before he died, and also touring Canada and the West Indies.

On this side of the Atlantic, Ponting took the show to a number of European countries, while in the UK he performed it at arts centres, studio theatres, universities and schools, and also raised money for the restoration of Thomas’ Boathouse home in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire.

He first became fascinated by Thomas and his poetry as a pupil at Devizes Grammar School in Wiltshire, and later, while teaching in Uganda, played the poet for the first time in Sidney Michaels’ 1964 play Dylan. Later, while developing his own one-man show, a number of Thomas’ close friends provided advice and anecdotes.

Ponting lectured in media, production and audio-visual techniques at Bristol University from 1971-88, where his students included current Royal Shakespeare Company artistic director Gregory Doran, TV producer Geoff Posner and actors Julia Hills and David Bamber.

He then taught at Syracuse University’s School of Public Communications in New York State for three years before switching to full-time acting.

On Broadway, he played Sir Francis Beekman in Jule Styne’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for the National Actors Theatre and also appeared at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery.

David Ponting was born on April 16, 1936, and died on November 22, 2018, aged 82.

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