The Russian Revolution and the Welsh connection - by BBC Wales


BBC Wales' Arts and Media correspondent Huw Thomas took a look at R17...

"At first glance it's an unlikely pairing: a communist uprising in Russia in 1917, and a year of specially produced opera, dance, theatre and film in Wales a century later.

But it's the artistic impact of the Russian Revolution that has inspired Welsh arts organisations to use the events of 1917 to create new works and revive classic pieces, as well as forgotten works.

They include Parade, a 1917 ballet first performed in Paris with costumes by Pablo Picasso, but in 2017 revived by National Dance Company of Wales and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales at Wales Millennium Centre and Pontio Bangor. 

There's been a whole season of Russian themed operas from Welsh National Opera, while the Sherman Theatre has staged a new production of The Cherry Orchard.

The season is politically neutral, with organisers insisting it's the cultural impact - rather than the communist element - that prompted a themed year of artistic events.

But the cultural connections got me thinking about the political influence the Russian Revolution had on an area close to my heart: the south Wales valleys.

I turned to former Pontypridd MP, and ex communist, Kim Howells to explain why the toppling of the Tsar and the rise of the Bolsheviks was met with such enthusiasm by a small but vocal bunch in areas that became known as 'Little Moscows' in the valleys."