'"For years afterwards the farmers found them - the wasted young, turning up under their plough blades." So run the blunt, grimly beautiful opening lines of the Welsh poet Owen Sheers's elegy for the men, 4,000 of them from the 38th (Welsh) Division, who were killed or wounded in the Battle of Mametz Wood in July 1916. Sheers revisits that chapter of carnage in a stirring, sprawling promenade show. He draws on the writings of two survivors in particular. One is the poet David Jones whose fractured, enervated, modernist response to his war-time experiences, In Parenthesis, was hailed as a "work of genius" by TS Eliot. The other key influence is the writer Llewelyn Wyn Griffith. driven to wondering how the sun "could shine on this mad cruelty and on the quiet peace of an upland tarn near Snowdon"... We end up in dark woods and a place of numb desolation, bombarded by words that pierce the heart and vignettes that capture the stomach-churning sacrifice. The finest commemoration of the First World War centenary I've seen to-date, this deserves a much longer life.' Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph
Mametz by Owen Sheers was premiered by National Theatre Wales in June 2014. It is one of the set plays on WJEC's A level Drama specification. This dual edition combines the original English-language play with a Welsh-language translation by Ceri Wyn Jones, one of Wales's most eminent poets.
Owen Sheers is a poet, novelist and playwright. Twice winner of the Wales Book of the Year, his books of poetry include Skirrid Hill, winner of a Somerset Maugham Award, and the verse drama Pink Mist, winner of the Hay Festival Poetry Medal. In 2018 he was awarded the Wilfred Owen Poetry Award. Owen's theatrical work includes The Two Worlds of Charlie F., winner of the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award, Mametz, and National Theatre Wales's seventy-two hour The Passion. Chair of Wales PEN Cymru and Professor in Creativity at Swansea University, he lives in the Black Mountains of Wales with his wife and two daughters.