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Wales programme for Roald Dahl’s centenary in 2016 is unveiled

Yesterday, Wales was first in line to announce a programme of events to celebrate the centenary of Welsh born author and the world’s number one story teller, Roald Dahl in 2016.

The Welsh Government, National Theatre Wales, Wales Millennium Centre and Literature Wales have yesterday announced the Wales programme of events to celebrate the centenary. The announcement was made at the Norwegian Church, where Roald Dahl was baptised and which always remained close to the author’s heart.

The Roald Dahl 100 celebrations coincide with ‘Wales: Year of Adventure’ in 2016 and Roald Dahl himself was no stranger to adventure – whether as a child getting up to well-documented mischief in the local sweetshop or as a young pilot during World War Two. There are even rumours that he was a spy in the mould of James Bond! In his writing for children, Roald Dahl took his characters and readers on a series of unforgettable adventures – including James’ transatlantic flight in a giant peach, Charlie’s journey through Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and Sophie’s travels with The BFG.

During 2016, the Wales Programme will include City of the Unexpected, a city-wide performance celebrating all things Dahl, produced by National Theatre Wales and Wales Millennium Centre, and a programme of outreach events by Literature Wales taking the wonders of Roald Dahl and his characters far and wide.  Roald Dahl’s work will also be celebrated through an exhibition of illustrations by Quentin Blake and World Book day.

Deputy Minister for Culture Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates said:

“The Roald Dahl 100 celebrations in 2016 should be quite an adventure - in the words of Willy Wonka, ‘Tremendous things are in store for you! Many wonderful surprises await you!’ The Roald Dahl 100 programme will greatly enhance the Year of Adventure. The centenary of Roald Dahl will be widely celebrated across the world in many different ways – from the global release of Steven Spielberg’s movie adaptation of The BFG,  to the annual Roald Dahl Day celebrations in September, and Wales will play a central role in these global celebrations to build on the national and international success of the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival. You might even say that we are passing the baton from Dylan to Dahl.

“Roald Dahl was no stranger to adventure throughout his legendary lifetime but, in celebrating his Centenary, we are celebrating his unparalleled ability to take children, and adults, on soaring flights of adventure through the raw power of storytelling.”

Speaking at the launch was MD of the Roald Dahl Literary Estate and Roald Dahl’s grandson, Luke Kelly. Also in attendance was Felicity Dahl, Roald Dahl’s widow.  

Luke Kelly, said yesterday:

“It is wonderful to hear today all the exciting plans both in Cardiff and throughout Wales for 2016. My grandfather would have been moved and delighted by the range of activity, as am I.”

Together with local schoolchildren, Luke and Felicity seized the opportunity to unveil the official Roald Dahl 100 logo in the form of a flag, which will fly from the Norwegian Church Arts Centre in 2016.

One of the programme’s highlights will be ‘City of the unexpected’ which will take place in Cardiff in September 2016 and will be a city wide celebration of Roald Dahl’s World.  Co-produced by the National Theatre Wales and Wales Millennium Centre and directed by Nigel Jamieson, director of the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games, events will include site specific theatre, large-scale spectacles, smaller theatrical productions and art commissions from Welsh artists. So who knows where and how an Enormous Crocodile, a giant peach, or Fantastic Mr Fox might turn up around the city.

John McGrath, National Theatre Wales  and Graeme Farrow, Wales Millennium Centre, said:

“We are delighted that the first ever major co-production between the Wales Millennium Centre and National Theatre Wales will be such an extraordinary response to the world of Cardiff's greatest story-teller. Both our companies are used to creating big, beautiful and surprising productions, but with City of The Unexpected we will be on our largest ever stage - the whole city of Cardiff.  Expect to see everyday places utterly transformed - seen through the eyes of Roald Dahl - and get ready to meet some of your favourite characters in the most unexpected ways! After all, as Dahl said ‘the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.”

A bilingual, pan-Wales programme, to be delivered by Literature Wales, will engage the whole of Wales in literature, creative writing and reading.  Through programme of targeted outreach activity and a unique funding scheme running parallel to Writers on Tour, financial support for events organised to celebrate Roald Dahl 100 will be offered.

Chief executive of Literature Wales, Lleucu Siencyn, said:

“Roald Dahl is loved by children and adults all over the world but not many know that he was born in Cardiff and is one of ours. In 2016 we plan to bring Dahl back to Wales. Literature Wales will work with communities, youth groups, festivals, arts organisations and businesses across the country to ensure that the Centenary is celebrated everywhere and can be enjoyed by everybody.”  

There will also be new exhibitions of the work of Quentin Blake – Roald Dahl’s principal illustrator - and a celebration for World Book Day where activity will focus around specific activities based on Roald Dahl’s stories and characters.

Performing during the launch were Only Kids Aloud under the direction of Tim Rhys Evans who will also be leading on the Land of Song project for 2016. Every primary school in Wales will be invited to take part so that children throughout the country see singing as a fun, normal and exciting part of everyday life.  Using a new Roald Dahl-inspired song book as a basis for activity and via a state of the art website, teachers and pupils alike will have access to all the resources they need to use singing as part of their curriculum with energy and confidence. The culmination of the project will be a unique opportunity for 500 schools to come together in song at an event in June 2016. Land of Song is supported by Lloyds Bank.

City of Cardiff Council Leader, Councillor Phil Bale said:

“Roald Dahl is one of the greats of children’s literature and Cardiffians are incredibly proud of his Cardiff roots. Here in the capital we have a rich history of hosting wonderful cultural events that appeal to the whole family. The centenary celebrations will continue at the fourth annual Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival from 16 – 24 April 2016, where we are very excited to include a range of Roald Dahl themed events featuring craft sessions, storytelling and some very special guests.”


Channel website: http://gov.wales

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