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Avant-garde Eddie is one of the Ladds; Gareth Bicknell gets to grips with the real and imaginary world of Eddie Ladd.

Byline: Gareth Bicknell

AS stage names go,Eddie Ladd sounds more like a northern comedian than an avant-garde performance artist. But this kind of incongruity was probably just the sort of thing Gwenith Owen was aiming for when,as a drama student embarking on a career on the stage, she joined the actor's union Equity.

``All the time I get introduced to people as Eddie,'' sheadmits. ``It's unusual to be called Gwenith these days,but it's not confusing, because I'm proud of my name. When I joined equity they tell you to change your name if it's the same as another actor's,but with a name like Gwenith Owen I thought I wouldn't have to change it.

``I wanted to see if I had the courage to try out one of the fancy names I had,and Eddie Ladd was at the top of that list. It was the kind of name that could be male or female, and I thought it sounded quite snappy.

Ladd was my mother's maiden name as well.''

Eddie is the subject of S4C's arts series Portreadau this week,and she is surprised when she hears herself described as someone who ``spent a lot of her childhood in her own imaginary world''.

According to S4C: ``She wasn't one of the village kids,and quite often she had an invisible bubble around her which kept her at the edge of the playground.''

``I might have said something like that,'' she laughs,amused at the snowballing effect of a flippant remark made while filming. ``I wasn't away with the fairies or anything,I was just dead normal. I lived on a farm so I didn't know everybody in the village,but you still mixed in with everybody else and made friends.''

Then she remembers something and,in self- effacing mockery of the imaginations of the playground, sheconcedes: ``I did use to hang around the school gates making up my own language!''

This kind of creative inventiveness is what has made Eddie the leading light of Wales' dance and perfomance art scene.

She has toured Britain and Europe with experimental drama company Brith Gof,and won the Total Theatre award at this year's Edinburgh fringe festival for her act Clwb Luz,in which she combined lyrics,dance and monochrome black and white visuals in a performance inspired by club culture. She has also fronted S4C's Fideo Naw and The Slate programmes,presenting pop and art in her own inimitable style.

But as a teenager growing up on a farm near Aberteifi,in Ceredigion,Eddie did not harbour any particular ambition to be an actress. She admits she fell into drama while studying English at the University of Aberystwyth,because she couldn't speed read the texts fast enough .

``You could read a drama in three hours, so my drama tutor advised me to concentrate on the drama side and I ended up majoring in it. Otherwise I would have been out on my ear,'' she says.

After graduating from Aberystwyth, she worked with various theatre companies, working in kitchens and as a cleaner to pay the bills. But it was with the now defunct Brith Gof that Eddie felt she had ``come home'',as their experimental and often shocking performances suited her own anarchic style.

She eventually spent 10 years touring with them. Mike Pearson,co-director of Brith Gof, says ofher: ``She always works on the borders,between one world and another, sometimes she's similar to a hooligan, sometimes toa singer, sometimes to both at the same time.''

Portreadau S4C,Sunday,8.30pm
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 27, 2003
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