The theatre company, Dirty Protest are currently touring South Wales with a play by Pembrokeshire playwright Mark Williams inspired by Wales’s claim to Star Wars fame.
Lightspeed from Pembroke Dock is a co-production between Wales’ acclaimed new writing company, Dirty Protest, Chapter and the Torch Theatre and takes the 1979 Pembroke Dock building of the full-scale Millennium Falcon as its inspiration.
The production tells the story of Sam who finds himself in his 40s, divorced, with a teenage daughter and a career that’s not quite where he wanted it to be. Production of The Force Awakens has just started and the Millennium Falcon is being rebuilt in the same docks; his young and idealistic daughter Lizzie takes it upon herself to get her dad a job on the set.
Pembrokeshire actress, Sian Davies plays Lizzie. Sian trained at Arts Educational Schools London. Her theatre credits include Y Fenyw Ddaeth O’r Môr (Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru), Melltith y Brenin Lludd (Cwmni Mega), Spangled (Mercury Theatre Wales), Sinderela (Martyn Geraint Cyf), Everyday an Adventure and No Ball Games (New Wolsey Theatre). She has also worked extensively on screen in both Welsh and English, in productions such as Parch (Apollo), Reservoir Safety Campaign (Welsh Water), Doctors (BBC) and Casualty (BBC), as well as recurring roles in both Pobl y Cwm (BBC) and Gwaith/Cartref (Fiction Factory).
Sian discusses her role n Lightspeed From Pembroke Dock.
What attracted you to this production?
What first sparked my interest in the production was that a lot of the action is set in my home county of Pembrokeshire. My best friend lived in Milford Haven while we were growing up so the location of the play feels very familiar to me.
I wasn’t aware that the Millennium Falcon was built at the Dockyard in Pembroke, so learning something new about the history of Pembrokeshire was fascinating. I was also interested in the various relationships between children, parents and step-parents within the play-having grown up with both a father and step-father I felt I could identify strongly with the character of Lizzie.
Tell us a little bit more about your character?
Lizzie is sensitive, headstrong and feisty, if a little reckless at times. She cares deeply about those around her but doesn’t always think about the consequences of her actions. She has a strong sense of justice and will go to great lengths to do what she thinks is right and fair, both for herself and for others. She can be a little manipulative at times, especially when she’s trying to get what she wants.
Your character Lizzie takes some pretty drastic steps to help her Dad achieve his dreams. Can you relate to Lizzie’s need to fix things for people?
I want the people that I love to be happy and will always try my hardest to make sure that they are. However, Lizzie and I differ in the fact that I’m a lot less impulsive than she is. Even as a sixteen-year-old I tended to think over my decisions a lot more than she does within the play (probably too much if I’m honest, but I was a bit of a goody-two-shoes at school) I think that’s probably an element of the character I enjoy playing as it’s quite different to me in real life. I can live out my inner rebel through Lizzie without getting into too much trouble.
What were your own big influences growing up?
My mother was my biggest influence growing up, which is ironic seeing as Lizzie’s mother is quite absent within the play. She ignited a sense of adventure in both me and my brother from a very early age, taking us on long driving holidays on a tight budget, with the three of us sleeping in a two-man tent around Europe. She also used to read us adventure stories at bedtime, such as The Famous Five, The Secret Seven and Swallows and Amazons, which I can see now is responsible for my wanderlust as an adult. She showed me the value of learning about other cultures, of experiencing new cities, trying their foods and learning about their history. This is a passion that I still have and I hope to continue having new adventures throughout my life.
The building of the Falcon in character Sam’s home town is an enormous thing for him. Did anything that exciting ever happen in your home town?
I grew up in a village called St Dogmaels in North Pembrokeshire and had a very peaceful childhood with hardly any big events to rock the boat. However, Cardigan, which is the nearest town to St. Dogmaels held the first ever Eisteddfod in 1176- a bit before my time but still a pretty cool event in my home town!
How are you finding the Dirty Protest ‘experience’?
This is my first time working with Dirty Protest and I am loving every minute of it! It’s such a privilege to work with a team of open, playful individuals every day, who make the space such a creative one to work in. Everyone is working so hard to create a great production that we’re all proud of (and there are lots of laughs and cakes which is also amazing!)
‘Lightspeed from Pembroke Dock’ By Mark Williams a Dirty Protest co-production with Chapter and Torch Theatre plays the Torch Theatre on Friday 4 May and Saturday 5 May at 7.30pm
For more details about LightSpeed From Pembroke Dock visit dirtyprotesttheatre.co.uk