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Now The Hero / Now The Hero extends Marc Rees’ creative exploration and practice in site-responsive theatre by placing a musical element as the project’s core. It will take the form of an immersive requiem realised from an original collaboration by Jóhann Jóhannsson and Owen Morgan Roberts, composed by Roberts.

Rees first heard Jóhann’ music in 2006 at Galeri, Caernarfon where he collaborated with dancer Erna Ómarsdóttir in a piece called ‘IBM 1401 - a users’ manual’. Rees was completely absorbed by the score’s visceral quality and has wanted to collaborate with Jóhann ever since. Johann’s career went from strength to strength and he was in huge demand but Rees finally managed to lure him back to Wales with the intrigue of creating an Immersive Requiem. This was a format that neither of them had worked on before, and presented an opportunity to create something definitive.

Jóhann loved the power of the project and because of his incredibly busy schedule brought in his regular collaborator, Owen Morgan Roberts, to co-create the composition. Together they visited Rees in Swansea and made test recordings at the Brangwyn Hall, which Johann described as being ‘able to dive into the belly of that beautiful beast of an organ’.

In light of the deeply saddening news of Johann’s untimely passing, it is fitting that Owen Roberts will now compose the final work as a completion of their last creative collaborative conversation

We are very grateful to the Colwinston Charitable Trust for their continued support in funding this special work.

‘But if we can get anything from (Johannsson’s) work, it’s that loss can be beautiful, and that in appreciating that, we can preserve something terrifyingly fragile but intensely human, and very, very important’.

Joe Muggs (The Guardian)

Jóhann Jóhannsson


Stephen Layton

Owen Morgan Roberts


The Gododdin

‘Y Gododdin’ has inspired Welsh artists poets and writers since it was written by Aneurin in AD 600. It is of the oldest surviving Welsh work of poetry, telling how 300 Celtic warriors were assembled from as far afield as Pictland and Gwynedd and attacked the stronghold of Catraeth (Catterick). After several days of fighting against overwhelming odds, nearly all the warriors were killed and the poem laments their loss, while praising their valour and honouring their bravery in battle.

‘Y Gododdin’ was a major influence on David Jones whose epic poem ‘In Parenthesis’ was a response to the carnage he witnessed as an infantryman in the First World War. A quotation from ‘Y Gododdin’ precedes each of the poem’s sections.

Tony Conran’s Poem ‘Elegy for the Welsh Dead, in the Falklands Islands,1982’ opens with the line, ‘Men went to Catraeth’, using the original poem to comment on a contemporary conflict.

Owen Sheers, who has written the libretto for Nawr Yr Arwr \ Now The Hero, was inspired by ‘Y Gododdin’ for his award winning ‘Pink Mist’. Sheers has adapted verses from ‘Y Gododdin’ and shaped them to resonate with WWI.

The influence of the epic poem ‘Y Gododdin’ runs through the narrative of Nawr Yr Arwr \ Now The Hero and has inspired Marc Rees since he performed in the seminal, contemporary reimagining of the poem by Brith Gof and Test Department in the 1980’s.

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Nawr Yr Arwr/Now The Hero is a multi-artform, site-specific project created by Swansea born interdisciplinary artist Marc Rees for 14-18-NOW. This bold and exciting commemoration of WWI will take place in and around the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea during Harvest, September 2018.