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Evan Roberts at Desk

 

About the Musical - a brief synopsis

In 1904, Evan Roberts, a 26 years ex miner claimed that he had spoken to God face to face in his little house in Loughor, Wales. He said he had been commissioned to lead a religious revival which would touch the whole world. It would have been easy to laugh or dismiss his claims except that within weeks Evan had become the figure head of a movement that turned Wales upside down and which drew worldwide attention.

The ordinary people of Wales loved Evan but he managed to upset lots of different power groups. Chapel Leaders, Union Activists, the Guardians of Welsh Moral Rectitude all found something in Evan or his message to hate and they tried their best to break him. About 18 months after Evan burst onto the scene he left Wales amidst gossip, rumours of scandal and talk of madness.

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Gallery of images from the musical...

CREDITS

Music and Lyrics:
Mal Pope

Directed by
Michael Bogdanoff

Directed by
The Wales Theatre Company

 


Titanic Overture (low bandwidth - 56k) (high bandwidth)

W.T. SteadMy story starts on 14th April 1912, in the smoking room of the Titanic. W T Stead, the journalist and peace campaigner is on his way to speak at a conference in the Carnegie Hall, New York. He can count amongst his friends and acquaintances, Gladstone, The Tsar and the US President Taft. As an investigative journalist he has actually spent time in prison for exposing a certain crime. In 1904 as a disillusioned ‘hack’ he was given the job of investigating Evan Roberts and his Revival. It was a job that would change his life forever.

 

Wheels Go Round

Industrial Wales 1904. The British Fleet sailed on Welsh Coal. These are the men who daily risk their lives to cut this coal out of the ground. They realise they have strength if they organise and work together.

Why me, Why Here, Why Now (low bandwidth - 56k) (high bandwidth)

Evan Roberts had a great confidence in his calling which occasionally faltered as he questioned his ability and worthiness to live up to everyone’s expectations. The second verse tells the thoughts of his sister who is worried about his sanity. Evan taught his followers the prayer ‘Send Your Spirit’. Even at the height of success Evan would ask the question ‘Why Me’.


See Me As A Woman

Annie DaviesOne of the criticisms of Evan was that he travelled with a group of teenage girls, ‘The Singers of the Dawn’. Annie Davies joined this group and never left his side. She had had singing lessons from Ivor Novello’s mother and was a beautiful young woman. There were newspaper claims that they had become engaged. Was she in love with Evan? Did he ever see he as anything other than a face amongst the crowd. When the Chapel is empty she has time to reflect.

Always a Man Like You

Evan met opposition at every turn. Some thought him too good to be true, that he was no different to the other ‘do gooders’. Everywhere in life he seemed to come across ‘a man like you’.

Mining Disaster (low bandwidth - 56k) (high bandwidth)

In January 1905, with the Revival in full swing, a group of miners went underground in Gorseinon, a village a few miles from Loughor, singing hymns. Within a few hours they would be dead following an explosion. I wondered how Evan would cope with this. In the second verse his sister says he has to continue with his work. In the third verse, a union activist asks Evan where is his God now.

It’s a Story that we Need

In February 1905 Evan cancelled all engagements and spent a week in silence in a house in Neath. Annie Davies was the only person who saw him when she brought him his food. The Newspaper men gathered outside waiting for a new headline. Others came from around the world asking Evan for a word from God. It was a real media circus with Evan alone in the eye of the storm.

You Frighten Me

Evan’s sister Mary worried that the strain would be too much for her brother. Her role of confidante had been taken by Annie Davies and she found herself slightly on the outside. Evan’s mood swings and erratic behaviour made her fear for his sanity.

Raise the Flag

Unionisation of Industry in Wales had been going on for some time. Some thought those in charge of the Miner’s Federation (The Fed) were too soft. One critic said ‘If the leaders of the Fed were in charge of the Children of Israel they’d still be making bricks out of straw’. The more radical socialist ideals of the ‘syndicalist’ movement was taking root. They looked back to the militancy shown at the Merthyr Riots of 1831 for their inspiration. These riots are said to be the first time a red flag, a sign of revolution, was raised in Britain.

Church at Moria

Silence Speak to My Heart

In the week of silence Evan fights to hear the voice of God one again. He has been asked to lead a campaign in Liverpool, the second biggest port in the Empire and he is unsure. At the end of the week he is renewed and resigned to do whatever he has to do, whatever the cost.


Why Should I Do The Right Thing

W T Stead has been shadowing Evan trying to get ‘The facts’. No Matter where he looks he can’t find evidence of corruption, financial or moral. He asks Evan for an interview but Evan ends up asking the questions. In a newspaper article, W T Stead had exposed child prostitution in London. He showed how easy it was to buy a child but as a result of his actions he was imprisoned for 3 months. He did the right thing and paid the price. Evan’s only answer is Isaiah 53. Is Evan speaking to Stead or to himself?

I Like Sundays

One of the major miracles of the Welsh Revival was not that water had been turned into wine, but that beer had been turned into tables and chairs as miners found strength to cope with their incredibly hard lives without the aid of alcohol. It also led to hypocrisy as people wanted to be seen to be upright. For some that meant, hiding their beer in water bottles, enjoying ‘personal’ attention in revival meetings or playing football but using someone else’s name when it came to filling in the team sheet.

Evan’s Theme

A tune many of us have grown up with. As with so much beauty familiarity breeds contempt.

Warm Wind (low bandwidth - 56k) (high bandwidth)

The musical ends where it began, on the Titanic. The amazing thing about W T Stead is that he had written 2 books about the possibility of Ocean Liners sinking in the Atlantic. Were these premonitions of his own death? The events of 1904 in Wales changed Stead. Even at this final moment of crisis he is able to face his future without fear and without regret.

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