The Dynamics of Devolution: An Enquiry into the Role and Significance of Waless Post-Devolution National Theatres

Anwen Jones


In a recent articleon the process of Welsh Devolution, Richard Wyn Jones argues that the processof negotiating changes in post-devolution Westminster/Wales dynamics has beencharacterised by the emergence of a discourse of ‘unintended consequences’ (Jones2001: 34). In this article, I intend to argue that one of the most significantand contemporary of these unintended consequences, is the new prominence androle that national theatre has acquired in the political and cultural discourseof contemporary Welsh nationhood.  It ismy contention that, in the absence of a mature set of political institutionsthat might directly enable devolution, the National Assembly government calledupon its national theatrical institutions to function as highly visible vehiclesfor cultural and political expression in Wales. The article will argue that thegradual development of the Welsh Devolution project from 1997 to the presenthas activated a creative compact between the Welsh Assembly Government, theWelsh public and its National Theatres. Analysis of the recent history ofTheatr Genedlaethol Cymru (THGC) and National Theatre Wales (NTW) will definethe political agenda driving the creation of both companies and the ingenuitywith which the companies have side-stepped this agenda to articulate their ownartistic aims and ambitions.

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