A heart-warming new play about dementia inspired by the residents of a Gwynedd care home is set to go on a nationwide tour of Wales.
Ŵy, Chips a Nain (Egg, Chips and Grandma) will shine a light on the effects of the cruel condition as seen through the eyes of a young grandson.
It’s been written by Welsh language poet and musician Gwyneth Glyn who visited Bryn Seiont Newydd in Caernarfon to speak to the residents and staff as part of her research.
The play is a co-production between the Menai Bridge-based theatre company, Frȃn Wen, with Galeri Caernarfon where it will be premiered next February.
Appropriately, the ensuing tour is being sponsored by the award-winning Pendine Park care organisation who own Bryn Seiont Newydd.
The play tells the story of young Guto who loves spending time with his Nain and it involves a boat trip to Ireland, picnics by the sea, semaphore flags and fairies turning children into sausages.
Earlier this year, Gwion Hallam who won the Crown at this year’s National Eisteddfod on Anglesey, revealed his prize-winning poem had also been inspired by visits to meet the residents of Bryn Seiont Newydd.
According to Gwyneth Glyn, the play is an honest portrayal of love, friendship and fun between two generations when facing life with dementia.
She said: “Telling the story through the eyes of a young boy means it isn’t a dark story and because it’s important to offer the audience some light, hope and humour.
“It’s really a crystallisation of the relationship a boy has with his grandmother and how that changes as her dementia takes hold. Guto goes to his Nain’s for tea after school and always enjoys egg and chips.
“It’s through this every day event of cooking egg and chips that we see the condition develop and how he sees the adult looking after him deteriorating due to her dementia. I don’t want to spoil the play but the ending is, I hope, poignant but full of hope.
“I really wanted to get the message across that dementia doesn’t mean the end of a relationship but instead, in many ways, it enriches lives.
“I wanted to see for myself how dementia affected people so I worked with Bryn Seiont Newydd’s musician-in-residence, Nia Davies Williams.
“It was a really enlightening experience and increased my depth of understanding of the condition and also gave me a great deal of hope as I saw how lives are enriched through music and art.”
Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE said: “My wife, Gill, and I are delighted to be able to support the play which will help get the message out about the devastating effects of what is a terrible disease.
“We have a track record in supporting the arts and storytelling. Whether through the spoken word or music, art has an important role to play. We are passionate about what we do.
“We are a community-based organisation that likes working with community groups and Frȃn Wen certainly ticks all the boxes.
“Gwyneth Glyn’s new play is funny, serious and yet poignant. I really like the concept of telling the story of one woman’s dementia journey through the eyes of her grandson and how his relationship with his grandmother changes due to her dementia.
“We really are delighted to support this new play and would encourage everyone to go to a theatre to see it. Dementia will continue to be a growing issue especially in, what is, an ageing population.
“I’m pleased Gwyneth came to Bryn Seiont Newydd because it meant she could see for herself how dementia affects people and how people with the disease can still live well and be happy.”
Galeri Caernarfon’s new artistic director, Nici Beech said: “This is a co-production that began life under my predecessor Mari Emlyn and I’m delighted to have inherited a fantastic production. It will have an excellent two person cast in Iwan Garmon and Gwenno Hodgkins.
“It really is a beautiful script, very moving. There is lots of laughter but it’s also so poignant.
“Mario and Gill Kreft and Pendine Park have worked with Galeri in the past and it’s wonderful that relationship is continuing.
“Rehearsals will begin in December ahead of performances over two days in February. The play will then tour Wales.”
Bryn Seiont Newydd’s musician-in-residence, Nia Davies Williams, said: “It’s a fantastic and interesting project. I really like the inter-generational aspect which allows children to get an understanding of dementia.
“Gwyneth’s script is wonderful, very sensitive and tells the story of dementia through the eyes of a child. I see dementia every day and no two people are the same but Gwyneth has really captured the affect dementia has on people.”