Smithsonian Cultural Series “Poetic Wales” Showcases Performing Arts, Tradition and Beauty

April 1, 2009
News Release

The small country of Wales is packed with natural beauty, from magnificent mountains to stunning coastlines. It is rich in heritage and culture, from its nearly 600 castles to its beloved poetry and song. Washington, D.C., area residents and visitors can learn more about Wales through the educational program series “Poetic Wales” presented by The Smithsonian Associates from June 12-30. 

The series is presented in partnership with Visit Wales and will coincide with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival (June 24-28 and July 1-5) in which Wales is participating as a featured nation.

“It gives me great pleasure to invite audiences to a series of events to inspire visitors to come explore our compact and incredibly beautiful country,” said First Minister of Wales Right Honorable Rhodri Morgan. “‘Poetic Wales’ programs will explore our ancient heritage and also introduce audiences to the Wales of today.”

The program series encompasses a variety of topics, including a traditional afternoon tea with chef Angela Gray at the British Embassy, a musical evening with celebrated Welsh singer Iris Williams, an armchair journey through breathtaking Wales with travel writer Andrew Evans and a one-man stage performance of Dylan Thomas’ play “Under Milk Wood” by British actor Guy Masterson.

“We are extremely pleased to share the culture of Wales with Washingtonians and visitors,” said Barbara Tuceling, director of The Smithsonian Associates. “Through our collaboration with our Welsh partners, we have developed a delightful mix of educational and entertaining programs.”

For tickets and additional information, contact The Smithsonian Associates at (202) 633-3030 or visit More information about Wales can be found at

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Program Details

Dylan Thomas’ “Under Milk Wood”

One-Man Performance by Guy Masterson

Friday, June 12; 6:45 p.m.

Since its first broadcast featuring Richard Burton in 1954, Dylan Thomas’ most famous work has brilliantly conjured up the intimate dreams of Llareggub, a fictional sea town in Wales. Tonight, “Under Milk Wood” is interpreted in a solo performance by British actor and director Guy Masterson (Burton’s great-nephew). Using nothing but a wooden chair, dark glasses and a haunting soundscape, Masterson performs all 69 of the play’s characters through physical and vocal interpretations. Prior to the performance, actress Kate Burton (Richard Burton’s daughter) gives a brief overview of Thomas’ life and the play. Masterson and Burton take questions from the audience after the performance.

Location: Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian

Tickets: Resident Members $30, General Admission $40.

Discovering Wales

Thursday, June 25; 6:45 to 8:45 p.m.

From the rocky coasts of Pembrokeshire to the golden beaches of Cardigan Bay, travel writer Andrew Evans takes the audience on a journey of discovery through magnificent green landscapes, ancient castles, slate-roof mill towns and sleepy seaside villages. Evans walks the great valleys of the Brecon Beacons and climbs the breathtaking mountaintops of Snowdonia. He discusses the Welsh language, food, music and often hardscrabble life, and how Wales’ heritage lives on today.

Location: Smithsonian’s Ripley Center

Tickets: Resident Members $25, General Admission $35

Iris Williams, Welsh Lady of Song

Saturday, June 27; 7:30 p.m.

Iris Williams sings classics from Jerome Kern, George and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, and Cole Porter. Williams, who was born in Wales, has performed at the Oak Room in the Algonquin Hotel in New York and at the Los Angeles Music Center. In 2004, Queen Elizabeth awarded Williams the Order of the British Empire for her contributions to music and service to charitable causes. The singer is also a Fellow of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Location: National Museum of the American Indian

Tickets: Resident Members $20, General Admission $25

It’s Time for Tea

With Chef Angela Gray at the British Embassy

Tuesday, June 30; 4 p.m.

Although no longer a daily ritual, the traditional afternoon tea was once a regular occurrence in the British Isles. Chef Angela Gray creates a Welsh-inspired afternoon tea as she discusses some of the Welsh foods and customs. Gray is a food consultant, writer and broadcaster who has made numerous cooking programs for BBC Wales and UK Food Live. She has a regular series on BBC Radio Wales called “My Life on a Plate.”

Location: British Embassy, 3100 Massachusetts Avenue N.W.

Tickets: Resident Members $60, General Admission $95