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Under Milk Wood

Under Milk Wood, Botteghe Oscure, Llareggub: A Piece for Radio perhaps

thomas radio voices llareggub

Dylan Thomas's ‘play for voices’, evoking the passage of a single spring day in the village of Llareggub through the accounts given by some sixty characters of their daily activities, dreams, memories, and relationships. Thomas's involvement with radio and film from 1940 onwards led him to begin the work in 1945, when he wrote ‘Quite Early One Morning’, which anticipates Under Milk Wood in the use of imagined voices independent of its principal speaker. Although a version of the play was published in Botteghe Oscure under the title Llareggub: A Piece for Radio perhaps in 1952, Thomas continued to work on it until just before its three performances in the USA in 1953, the first of which was a solo reading at Harvard, followed by two productions with a cast of actors in New York. Its dramatic structure is unconventional in taking its central dynamic from the rapid interaction of the lyrically humorous dialogue between the many voices, conspicuous among which are those of Captain Cat, the Reverend Eli Jenkins, and Polly Garter. ‘Llareggub’ (which may be read backwards) and its inhabitants constitute a caricature of the community in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, where Thomas lived from 1949. Under Milk Wood was first broadcast by the BBC in 1954, since when it has been performed many times and remains a popular work.

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