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, who has died at the age of 66, was born in 1954, the son of Jennie and Rev James Eirian Davies in Hirwaun, Carmarthenshire and then raised Brynaman where he arrived, fast asleep in his carrycot on the back seat of his parents’ Morris Minor. It was here, as an inquisitive three-year-old, he decided to try to put his hand through the safety bars of an electric fire and it was suggested that this was the genesis of a sense of curiosity, of pushing the boundaries, that was something which stayed with him throughout his life and was reflected in his work as poet, author and playwright.
As a boy, Niclas Parry, who was later to become a judge, was a close childhood friend of Siôn's brother, Guto, “From an extremely early age I spent many many hours at the family home, the Chapel Manse, Bron Afon Mold. It was obvious then, even to a primary school boy, that Siôn was exciting, innovative, original and prepared to challenge the recognised norm. It was no surprise to see him develop into the genius that appeared to be within him from his school days."
Betsan Llwyd, Artistic Director at Theatr Bara Caws recalled : "This first time I saw Siôn was on stage in a school pantomime which he himself had written, me in my first year, he a 6th former, and as a frisson of tension rippled through the hall. I became aware, even then, that this charismatic personality liked to push boundaries."
‘He was gentle mannered, sometimes overly polite and always effusively talkative… In reality Joe couldn’t have lifted a finger to harm a fly. He was like some affable old bear, so keen was he to befriend and humour all those in his company.’
Siôn's love of rugby began at the same time. Alun Wyn Bevan, writer and broadcaster recalled : "I like to think that it was my own father and I who introduced Siôn to rugby. Shortly before the move to Mold, the three of us piled into our MG Magnette and set off one Saturday afternoon – destination Stradey Park. Llanelli were playing Aberavon, the place packed to the rafters and Siôn was mesmerised. The location, the noise, the crowd and the game itself had an effect which lasted throughout his life."
Sion was in the sixth form at school when, at the age of 17, he was the winner of the Crown at the 1971 Urdd National Eisteddfod. The following year he started his undergraduate degree in Welsh and Philosophy at the University of Wales Aberystwyth and after graduation, studied at the National College of Music and Drama in Cardiff and whilst studying had his volume of poems, 'Plant Gadara' , ('Gadara's Children'), published in 1975. His subject matter involved young people of North-East Wales, including skinheads, a rare thing in written Welsh at the time.
Three years later, at the age of 24 in 1978 in the National Eisteddfod Crown at Cardiff, he became the youngest ever poet to be crowned and took the bardic name 'Aman Bach'. His winning series of poems primarily engaged in the experiences of a Welsh adolescent in the late 1960s. With his 'fierce swallows' and 'tender Luftwaffe', his poems were autobiographical in content, direct in style and addressed the problems of Welsh identity, sexual relationships and world peace in a nuclear age. In his winning entry he personified himself as a :
yn topi celfi ei amgylchedd
gan gicio gwreichion o’r prid
wrth chwilio am fwlch yn y clawdd'.
butting the furniture of his environment
by kicking sparks from the ground
when seeking a gap in the hedge’
Poet and dramatist, Jim Parc Nest commented that Siôn 'inherited, and was influenced by the radicalism of his parents. It developed into a rebelliousness which characterised his work, both as poet and playwright'. He also said that 'his anti-establishment stance eventually became one of the main hallmarks of his dramatic tragi-comic legacy in both English and Welsh.' Dr Manon Williams in the School of Welsh and Celtic Studies at the University of Bangor saw Siôn as 'The Conformist Rebel'.
When 'Pobol y Cwm's' co-creator, Meic Povey, stood down from the Script Editing Department at BBC Wales, Siôn followed as his successor under the direction of Gwenlyn Parry. It was during this period that same period he wrote 'Crash Course' for the Made in Wales Company. Directed by Hugh Thomas and set on Welsh Language Learning Course in West Wales with its cast of six, it was a pointed satire on Welsh language culture.
Personal tragedy intervened in his life in 1982 when his mother, Jennie, took her own life with a combination of alcohol and barbiturates. Three years before, her appointment as Editor of the periodical 'Y Faner', (The Flag), was, in many ways, the high point of her life because it gave a platform to a wide range of political and social ideas and encouraged debate, but her stance on the issue of the Welsh-language television channel and her belief that putting all Welsh programmes on a single channel, S4C, would have a damaging effect on the language. The single channel had the support of the great majority of Welsh nationalists at the time and Jennie's agonising concern and sense of duty towards Wales and the Welsh language and her unwillingness to compromise put her on a collision course with fellow nationalists and ultimately the strain was too much for her.
It was Eirian who had broken down the bathroom door at the home she shared with his father and found his mother. He recalled : "It was also very strange that I was home for two days that May. I was filming in Wrexham and stayed with Dad and Mam for two nights and Mam had known about this for many weeks. It's odd that she did it when I was home. Did she do it at that time because I would be home with Dad?"
When he was working in his capacity as a script editor, Geraint Lewis, dramatist and short story editor, met Siôn when he submitted his script, to the new independent TV company, Lluniau Lliw, for a series based on the dreams and disappointments of a young man, Ceri Morgan, who was on the dole in Thatcher’s Britain. He recalled : 'Having achieved so much already, still in his early thirties, I was in awe of Siôn, so it was with great trepidation that I met him. I needn’t have worried. Grabbing my hand firmly, with a mischievous glint in his eye, he said "Ah, the young man who wonders where the fluff in one’s navel comes from". This was a reference to one of Ceri’s wry voice-overs. Many years later, story-lining Pobol y Cwm together, he would often chuckle and tease me about the fluff in the navel. It became a running gag between us.'
Then in 1990 he co-scripted the screenplay with Lyn Ebenezer for the tv thriller with a serial killer on the loose in a small Welsh seaside town, 'Yr Heliwr' (The Hunter) for S4C. Directed by Peter Edwards it starred Philip Madoc, Hywel Bennett and Sue Jones-Davies with Madoc as protagonist DCI Noel Bain. It went on to become 'A Mind to Kill' over four series broadcast in both English and Welsh between 1994 and 2002.
His 'Gadael Lenin', (Leaving Lenin), based in the film script he co-wrote with Endaf Emlyn was released to great acclaim in 1993 and became winner of the 'BAFTA Awards, Wales' in 1995. Endaf Emlyn, film director said : "I had the great pleasure of sharing the adventure of creating Gadael Lenin with Siôn Eirian in 1992, clothing the skeleton of an idea with the structure of a film, as the two of us ventured on a trip around a changed Russia. As the Soviet Empire had only just been dismantled, resulting in a complete lack of order and organisation, we were under a good deal of pressure, on a trip chock full of trials and discoveries. When the time came to start filming, in the middle of what was wild mayhem Siôn was always Stakhanovite in his work rate and clear in his vision, feeding us pages of script each and every day. It was a privilege to work with a dramatist such as Siôn, with his sure craft and swift mind and it was an equal pleasure to also get to know the man – warm-hearted, affable and to become his friend."
Siôn's group of sixth-form pupils on an art school trip to Russia are accidentally separated from their three teachers, who end up in a railway siding, while their students make it to St. Petersburg by themselves. Talented rebel Spike meets freewheeling artist Sasha and discovers a sexual as well as an artistic identity, while school flirt, Sharon, learns that her yobbish boyfriend Charlie has only one thing on his mind - and it's not her feelings. In addition to Sion's wryly comic observations about teenagers and sex the film focuses on the poignantly funny performances of the hitchhiking teachers.
In 1994 he scripted one of the nine episodes of Lynda la Plante's 'The Lifeboat' starring Brendan Gleeson a 13-part BBC1 television adventure series set in a Welsh lifeboat community in which the men regularly risk their lives on the stormy and malevolent seas.
In the same year he wrote 'Epa yn y Parlwr Cefn', (Epa in the Back Room), for Cwmni Theatr Dalier Sylw. His story is of three very different prostitutes : Bethan a student from a privileged background, who prostitutes to pay for her college place; Linda, a young prostitute and experienced, hardened prostitute, Mary.
The Western Mail wrote : ' Siôn Eirian is a consummate theatre craftsman and a dramatist of uncompromising honesty and boldness. In this play he unhesitatingly enters a strictly no-go area as far as Welsh language theatre is concerned, The play's plot concerns three young prostitutes who have rented a dingy room in a city apartment to ply their trade. They are constantly humiliated and exploited by a depraved and avaricious landlord. The narrative, as such, is slight, but the dramatist is more concerned with exploring the emotional and psychological interactions between the four characters. The four speak with an inevitable relentless coarseness with an astronomical count of four-letter words and offensive allusions. This will undoubtedly alienate and cause offense to some people. However, if they look beyond the rawness of the vocabulary, they will realise that the drama is more concerned with exposing the plight of a marginalised minority than he is with merely shocking audiences '.
In 1998 the Music Theater Wales worked for the first time in Welsh, commissioning Sion to create a new performing version of Stravinsky's opera 'Stori’r Milwr', (The Soldier's Tale). Two years later his 'Paradwys Waed', (Blood Paradise) for the Theatr Bara Caws was a play about ideals and propaganda, with personal love and sexual elements complicating the story. In it his two North Wales journalists are working out in Spain in 1936 - Gronw Ellis on behalf of the Daily Telegraph and Richard Stevens the Daily Worker who believed they had found their personal paradise until the Civil War transformed their lives.
In 2001 the The Welsh College of Music and Drama commissioned Siôn to write 'Cegin y Diafol',(The Devil's Kitchen), a surreal drama about communication and specifically the internet, set in( a restaurant in rural Wales. Here in 'The Seagull' the play focuses on the relationship between Nimrod, the innocent cook and its female owner. Siôn said the play was asking : "Do we control and benefit from the new communications technology, or does that technology benefit us, and not only colonize our culture, but also colonize our language and our identity? "
In 2003 the Neath based Theatr na n'Og commissioned Siôn to produce a new script for their production of the rock opera 'Nia Ben Aur' performed previously only once at the 1974 National Eisteddfod in Carmarthen and a musical telling the love story of Osian, a young prince who falls for Nia from Tir na n'Og, the land of eternal youth.
In 2004 Siôn wrote the comedy series 'Mostyn Flint n'aye!' starring Trefor Selway, for the Mold character created and performed by his contemporary from school days, Cadfan Roberts, who played a washed-up cabaret singer who'd been thrown out of by his wife and dreamt of returning to his Eighties heyday. Set in Flintshire, the eight-part series saw Mostyn trying to resurrect his career by buying a dilapidated working men's club to stage his own cabaret and comedy shows and was the first Welsh language drama to be set in the region and made by a Cardiff Company for S4C. It was Sion's deliberate attempt to rework established notions about the marginalised and Anglicised region of North East Wale
In 2010 Siôn, together with BAFTA award winning writer Ed Thomas, scripted the nine part S4C drama series 'Pen Talar', the story of from West Wales over a period of half a century, from the 1950s. Sion's 'tour de force' was an epic odyssey, which visited his characters at different turning points in their political and emotional development, from the student riots of the late 60s, the social upheaval and Thatcherism of the 70s and 80s, through the swinging nineties to the present day.
The main character, played by Richard Harrington, appeared from the third episode onwards, with previous episodes dealing with the life of his character as a child. At the point, in the early 1970s when Defi Lewis is an angry young student at Aberystwyth University and a well-educated middle-class boy brought up in a manor farmhouse, 'Pen Talar', in Carmarthenshire, he becomes embroiled in all kinds of passions and politics. At the same time, friend Doug and sister Siân take different paths which inevitably cross over the next five decades. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvUT_N27tn8
Early Day Motion in the House of Commons as a device to draw attention to the future funding of S4C.
In November, in the Welsh Affairs Committee MP Gareth Williams said : "It would be a huge pity to lose drama, which denotes ambition for a chanel. Any channel that cant do ambitious dram like the recent PenTalar would be significantly the poorer."
"study of the political direction of Wales" and he wrote the last act after Donald Trump won the race for the US presidency and after he had chosen his American cabinet, to make the play perfectly timely.
"With roots that stretched from Brynaman to Flintshire Siôn was that rarest of phenomena: someone who could write with a voice and vision that was convincingly pan-Welsh. A pioneer in so many ways – of urban Welsh writing in Bob yn y Ddinas he was the first to bring LGBT concerns to the Welsh language stage in Wastad ar y Tu Fas. His last play, Yfory, crystallised the sense of bitter stasis and broken dreams that so many of us felt in 2016 and since, and yet the radical hope of a reimagined Wales still shone through.
In small nations especially poets must double-up as prophets or political commentators. Siôn was the complete trinity, holding up a mirror to us all of who we are and what we might yet be."
What better epitaph might a playwright have ?