Opening Night: December 1996
Mary plays Eleanor Butler and Lady Betty Rhys plays Sir William and Mary Caryll Siwan plays Sarah Ponsonby and Mrs Goddard Iestyn plays Mrs Butler
The premier of Aberystwyth-based playwright Lucy Gough's new work As To Be Naked, dramatising the famous elopement of the "Ladies of Llangollen" is staged at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on Friday 13th of December (7.30pm). And the Aberystwyth-based Castaway Theatre Company's production is really a play within a play. It is set within a tense-ridden theatre company in 1996 where rehearsals are underway for a play about the famous elopement of the "Ladies of Llangollen" in 1778. The ladies were Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler, who disguised themselves as men and fled their homes in Ireland. Both were intent on escaping their prescribed roles in society. Sarah was escaping from the attentions of a lecherous guardian, and Eleanor was facing the prospect of being sent to a convent. They settled in Plas Newydd, Llangollen, where they spent 50 years together, where they became renowned for their escape and received a string of famous visitors. Gradually, events from both periods begin to interweave and mirror each other, culminating in a fascinating concoction of passion, pure farce and high drama. The play explores the nature of their relationship and looks at the roles of men and women in both the 18th and 20th centuries. As To Be Naked was commissioned from Lucy Gough in 1994 by Plas Newydd, and was first performed by Theatr Clwyd Outreach. The play has since been revised and expanded by the writer, in collaboration with Castaway, for a national tour starting at Aberystwyth Arts Centre.