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Divided by language but united by blood.

FOLLOWING their Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut, Neontopia and the Wales Millennium Centre will bring Alun Saunders' funny and moving play A Good Clean Heart to Wales.

A Good Clean Heart, originally produced by and premiered at Cardiff's awardwinning pub theatre The Other Room, is a moving coming-of-age story about two brothers raised by different families, speaking different languages.

Having suppressed any desire to know more about his early life before he was adopted, Hefin discovers on his 18th birthday that not only does he have a sibling, but he wasn't born in Wales as he'd always believed. On a defiant whim, Hefin takes a trip to meet his long-lost big brother, and crash-lands in a totally alien universe, just two hours down the M4.

Directed by Mared Swain, and with animated surtitles in both English and Welsh, A Good Clean Heart asks whether the love between two siblings raised in different cultures can overcome the barriers between them.

Here writer Alun Saunders - winner of Best Playwright in the English Language in the 2016 Wales Theatre Awards - tells us the story behind his creation...

I wrote the first [10-minute] draft of A Good Clean Heart back in 2014 having seen Invertigo Theatre's call-out for short plays on the theme of 'identity'.

My husband and I were already on our adoption journey, and as the brief required one Welsh character and one English character, I decided to explore separated siblings.

I'd attended a three-day training course for potential adopters, which gave a really clear picture of what adoption is today, how it differs from many of the preconceptions which many (including myself) had or have. I wanted to find a way to help dispel those misconceptions.

Kate Wasserberg read the fourth draft, encouraged me to develop the play further, which I did, and soon after this Kate told me that they'd like to commission and programme A Good Clean Heart as part of their first season.

We only had around six months to develop and write this play, and I was left under no illusion that it wasn't going to be tough. Kate brought in Mared Swain to direct, and having known Mared since we met on the National Youth Theatre of Wales in 1998, I was filled with joy.

Mared and Kate pushed me hard, and I wrote draft after draft - 2015 was the year I learned the absolute value of redrafting but it was worth it.

The production, bilingual through and through, with the characters speaking in different languages, with surtitles in each language to ensure complete accessibility, enjoyed great audiences and fab reviews.

To have my first play produced at a really exciting venue, with an awesome team who gave their all under pressure, was just amazing and felt really hard to top.

But we decided to try! At last year's Edinburgh Fringe, Mared and I sat down with a pint and thought, 'We've got a play - a good play - which could really work here, let's give it a try' Several meetings and funding applications later, we secured the Wales Millennium Centre as co-producers on the production and sufficient funding from the Arts Council of Wales to take A Good Clean Heart to Edinburgh and out on tour around Wales.

It's been a huge organisational challenge, never underestimated, but I'd never realised quite how much goes into taking a two-hander, 'small-scale' production on tour. It's nuts.

But we managed to establish our company, Neontopia, redraft the play, get it to a place Mared and I were both happy with, re-cast one of the parts (due to availability), get it published (by Oberon Books - whoop), produced posters and flyers and press releases and marketing emails aplenty, and be the best parents we can be with our respective families.

We're a team, and appreciate each other's hard work. I'm really lucky to have a friend like Mared who's driven and ambitious and critical and frickin' hilarious. I definitely couldn't have done this without her.

Now come see A Good Clean Heart!

You can see the play at Torch Theatre, Milford Haven, on October 11 (01646 695267,, Arad Goch, Aberystwyth, from October 13-15 (01970 617998, online sales from uk) and the Weston Studio, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, from October 18-22 (029 2063 6464,


A Good Clean Heart and, below, writer Alun Saunders
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 8, 2016
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