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Soho Theatre celebrates Dylan Thomas' centenary

Fri 12 September 2014

“And I’ll be there to meet it, small, red, fat, and in love.”

Soho Theatre, known for its genre-crossing programme, is collaborating with artists from across the world to mark the centenary of the birth of Dylan Thomas and his time in Soho and New York.

In 1950 Dylan embarked on an intense year-long love affair with American literary critic Pearl Kazin. Their love was documented in a collection of passionate letters sent to Pearl in America from around the world. The letters from Dylan to Pearl have recently discovered and were published earlier this year.

Only one half of this conversation is known to exist, so the other half of the conversation is created through his poetry, song, cabaret in a performance style which serves it best. Devised during rehearsals, it is somewhere between 84 Charing Cross Road, Ella Fitzgerald and Dylan himself.

Directed by Steve Marmion, Artistic Director of Soho Theatre, I Kiss Your Heart features American cabaret star Amelia Zirin-Brown (Lady Rizo) as Pearl, and Welsh, RSC regular Tim Treloar as Dylan, joined by a jazz trio. The music is composed in a collaboration between Yair Evnine (Lady Rizo’s Musical Director) and Greg Harradine (Soho Theatre’s Composer in Residence), to take the world of New York and London jazz scenes and create the original score for the show.

Talking about the production, Steve Marmion, Artistic Director of Soho Theatre, said:
“These letters really took me by surprise. They are a perfect capture of a very imperfect and dangerous emotion – love. The show will tell you a love story and offer you a new insight into a man you may think you know, but it will also go deeper and more universal as it explores the types of love we enjoy, and hate, and how (alongside death) love is one of the few known cures for loneliness.”

Amelia Zirin-Brown created Grammy Award-winning cabaret act Lady Rizo. She won the inaugural TO&ST Cabaret Award in her debut Edinburgh Fringe appearance in 2012, and was awarded Best Vocal Act from the London Cabaret Awards.

Tim Treloar is a regular member of the RSC and Chichester Theatre, most recently King Lear which also played in New York. His recent television credits include Holby City and Father Brown for the BBC and Norwegian thriller Mammon currently screening on Channel 4.

Steve Marmion, became Artistic Director of Soho Theatre in 2010, during which time he has directed the critically acclaimed and Verity Bargate Award-winning play The One, Address Unknown based on the epistolary book by Katherine Kressman Taylor and Anthony Nielson’s Realism.

Dylan’s daughter Aeronwy said in her book My Father’s Places that “for him to fall for someone his own intellectual level was not only stimulating but threatening to his marriage”. Having met on a literary tour of the US, Dylan and Pearl managed a few stolen days in Brighton before Pearl returned to America to take up a post at The New Yorker. His wife Caitlin accompanied him on his second US tour “to fend off the fawning fans and she-hyenas”. Kazin attended the final reading and met him afterwards.

Thomas’ letters to Kazin are published by Parthian with the title A Pearl of Great Price, edited by Jeff Towns.

I Kiss Your Heart is part of the Dylan Thomas 100 (#DT100), and is generously supported by the Welsh Government.

“I feel, sometimes, so close to you that the earth stops, the seas dry up, and across the deep dust I can kiss you… I kiss your heart, and all of you.”

Fri 26 – Sun 28 Sep; Fri/Sat 8pm, Sun 9.30pm
Crazy Coqs at Brasserie Zédel
Based on Dylan Thomas’ letters to Pearl Kazin
Directed by Steve Marmion
Performed by Amelia Zirin-Brown and Tim Treloar
Part of Dylan Thomas 100

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