Glyndwr Michael from Aberbargoed inspires Urdd Eisteddfod primary show

In the Urdd National Eisteddfod, 25 – 30 May, held this year on the ground of Llancaiach Fawr in Nelson, nearly 100 primary children from the Caerphilly area will take part in a musical following the history of a local man called Glyndwr Michael, who played in instrumental part bringing an end to the Second World War.

Glyndwr Michael was born in Aberbargoed, and it was his corpse that was used in Operation Mincemeat to trick the Nazis into moving their troops from Sicily to Greece, giving the British Army a crucial opportunity to win valuable ground in Europe.

Sara Lewis, who is originally from Aberdare and works for Theatr NaNog, is the scriptwriter and director of the musical, called ‘Y Dyn na fu Erioed’ (The Man Who Never Was), with Dyfan Jones, who’s also from Aberdare the Musical Director and Elan Isaac the choreographer.

Sara said, “What is so gripping to me is that this was the most successful operation in the Second World War – it was key to our history.  James Bond author Ian Fleming got the original idea for the operation, and it was quite a simple idea.  In short, they dressed a corpse in an army uniform, planted false intelligence documents on him and then left the body where a Nazi spy would find him – and that is what happened, leading Hitler to move his troops from Sicily to Greece.”

The name of the corpse used in Operation Mincemeat remained confidential until the documents were made public in the late 90s, when 50 years had passed since they were created.  That was the first time Glyndwr Michael’s name was made public.

Sara said, “Glyndwr Michael is described most often as a madman and a tramp, but I didn’t want that for our story, so in our version, when a group of children start to bully him as a child in Aberbargoed, Owain Glyndwr appears and tells him that he is going to save the world.  Owain Glyndwr becomes his imaginary friend , who looks after him.  We try to let the audience get to know Glyndwr Michael the person rather than Glyndwr Michael the corpse.”

The show is sponsored by Caerphilly Town Council, with the support of the Arts Council for Wales. Nearly 100 primary children from 11 primary schools in the Caerphilly area are part of the show – and since they started practicing at the beginning of January, a few peculiar coincidents have happened.

Sara explains, “We were looking for a location to practice, and I got a phone call from Ysgol Bro Sannan primary school offering their hall for us – and I happened to asked where exactly was the school, and she said Aberbargoed!  The caretaker at the school was familiar with the story of Glyndwr Michael, and the house where Glyndwr was born can be seen from the door where we’re practicing!  And it doesn’t end there – the caretaker showed me a picture of Glyndwr Michael and on it was his date of birth – the 4th of January, which was also the date of our first rehearsal at Aberbargoed primary school! It sent shivers down my spine.”

The Urdd National Eisteddfod primary schools’ musical, Y Dyn na Fu Erioed, will be staged in the pavilion on the ‘Maes’ Tuesday evening, 26 May.  The Eisteddfod will be held on the grounds of Llancaiach Fawr by Nelson.  Aled Sion is the Director of the Eisteddfod, he said, “We would like to thank the  Arts Council of Wales for their support and Caerphilly Town Council for their sponsorship, which has made it possible for us  to stage this production.  Sara and the production team have been very busy with the primary children, and I am confident that this will be a show to remember.  As well as nearly 100 local enthusiastic and talented children, they also have a great story to tell that will be of interest to people from the local area any beyond.” 

Tickets for ‘Y Dyn na Fu Erioed’ are available now on the Eisteddfod website – urdd.cymru/eisteddfod or by phoning 0845 257 1639.