Today is the centenary of the birth of Dylan Thomas. Yesterday a live reading of Under Milk Wood, his “radio play for voices,” was performed in New York City. First commissioned by the BBC and broadcast in 1954, it has been performed by Anthony Hopkins, Richard Burton, Tom Jones, Elton John, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Elizabeth Taylor, Peter O’Toole, and many others. This centenary performance took place at the 92nd Street Y’s Kaufmann Music Hall, the same venue the hilarious play had its debut.
This is how William Grimes of The New York Times described Thomas’s first appearance in the US: “A poetic comet streaked across American skies in the winter of 1950. Dylan Thomas, invited by the Poetry Center at the 92nd Street Y, touched down at Idlewild Airport and headed straight for the airport bar to get a much-needed double Scotch and soda. Then, without further ado, he set about seducing audiences from coast to coast.”
You can listen to the full performance, from October 26, 2014, starring and directed by Michael Sheen on the 92nd Street Y website. The Dylan Thomas in America Centennial Exhibition is also open at the 92nd Street Y till December. More details here.
To find out about the Dylan Thomas celebrations that are taking place all over the world in October and November visit the centenary website. www.dylanthomas100.org/
In celebration of Thomas, we went digging through the New Directions editorial files and found these treasures:
Portrait of the artist as a pipe-smoking poodle? An early edition designed by Gertrude Huston ca. 1940.
An unpublished Alvin Lustig cover ca. when books cost 95 cents.