As fifty-year-old Huw Morgan prepares to leave his home in Cwm Rhondda, Wales, he reminisces about his family and life in his beloved valley and he recalls his father Gwilym, mother Beth, sister Angharad and his five older brothers, Ianto, Ivor, Gwilym, Davy and Owen.
One afternoon, young Huw’s world changed forever when he fell in love at first sight with Bronwyn, the beautiful young woman who is engaged to Ivor. The new preacher, Mr. Gruffydd, conducted the wedding ceremony, and he, too, found love when he and Angharad caught each other’s eye. Soon after, trouble began when C. Evans, the owner of the coal mine, notified everyone that wages are to be reduced. Morgan tried to rectify the situation, but when he cannot, the younger miners, including Davy and the other boys, want to organize a union and strike. Morgan refused to allow the boys to discuss the issue at home, and so Davy, Owen, Ianto and Gwilym move out. The miners strike soon after, and as twenty-two weeks pass, everyone in the valley grew hungry and desperate. Some of the miners blamed Morgan for their problems because of his opposition to the strike and began to harass him.
One bitter winter night, Beth persuaded Huw take her to a miners’ meeting, at which she castigated those who mistreated her husband. On their journey home, Beth fell into a freezing river, and Huw dived in and valiantly held her head above the water. The returning men found them and, sometime later, Huw overheard the doctor tell his family that he may never walk again. Gruffydd refused to let Huw despair, however, and his gentle encouragment kept the boy’s spirits up. On the first day that Beth was well enough to leave her bed, Ianto, Davy, Gwilym and Owen move back home and were pleased when Gruffydd approves of the union, although he urged them to take their responsibilities seriously.
Gruffydd and Morgan settled the strike with Evans, but the family suffered nonetheless when Owen and Gwilym left for America. On a spring day soon after, Gruffydd fulfilled his promise to take Huw up on the mountain to pick daffodils for Beth, and there, Huw tooks his first steps since the accident. Gruffydd’s relationship with Angharad did not progress as well, however, because he refused to subject her to the hard life of a preacher’s wife. Deeply hurt, Angharad wedded Iestyn, Evans’ son, and moved with him to South Africa even though she still loved Gruffydd.
Meanwhile, Huw passed the exams for the National School and began attending classes in the next valley, where he must deal with local bully Mervyn, and the English Mr. Jonas, a cruel teacher who hated the Welsh. One night, soon after Ivor is killed in a mining accident, Bronwyn gave birth to their son, and Huw, who had meanwhile decided to work in the mine rather than attend university, went to live in her house to keep her company. Conditions in the mine worsened and Ianto and Davy were dismissed so that Evans could hire new workers for less pay.
Ianto then emigrated Canada and Davy to New Zealand, while Angharad returned from Capetown without her husband. She lived alone in the nearby Evans mansion, and soon the housekeeper, Mrs. Nicholas, began spreading gossip about Angharad and Gruffydd, even though they had remained apart. The talk angers the Morgans, who refused to attend chapel any more after the hypocritical deacons spoke out against Angharad. Gruffydd resigned from his post as well, but as he and Huw say farewell, they heard the warning whistle from the mine. They rushed to the site and learnt that Morgan and others were trapped below. While the men at the top pumped out water, Huw and Gruffydd lead a rescue party into the shaft. Huw finds his father, who hugs him before dying, then takes his body above to where Beth and Angharad are waiting.
This show was unique in that it was not only adapted for the stage by Val from the original book by Richard Llewellyn , but also that it used a number of sections of recorded speech and effects during the show to move the story along. For some reason, which escapes me now, at the end of the run the individual music and recordings were segued together into a single forty-five minute recording that, to some degree, stands on it’s own as a record of the production. What is perhaps more incredible is that in forty years of house moves, damp garages, and general storage abuse, it not only is still with us, but actually doesn’t sound too bad, even if a little hissy!
Those who experienced the original production can hear again those [much younger] voices of many of the cast, and also recall memories of those no longer with us. All preserved here along with their dubious accents and the wonderful Welsh music used throughout the show.
At some point, and if we find a copy of the original script, we may be able to add a listing and credits for the music, as well as the cast members providing the audio sections. Until then, however, we hope you enjoy this brief view into How Green Was My Valley.