A life filled with passion, fame and the harsh realities of addiction serves as the backdrop for the story behind one of the most renowned poets in the world, Dylan Thomas (Tom Hollander, Rev., In The Loop).
The creator of some of the most memorable lines in the English language, his brilliance, popularity and electrifying tours made him a much-loved celebrity in the U.S. But his failing marriage, heightened fame and wild, hard-drinking lifestyle led to his untimely demise in 1953.
Marking the centenary of his birth, A Poet in New York, written by acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davies (Little Dorrit, Bridget Jones Diary, House of Cards), premiering fall 2014 as part of BBC AMERICA’s Dramaville, explores the final days of the adored poet before his premature death in New York City at the age of 39.
“Thomas was a great poet whose blazing life and premature death left both a considerable poetic legacy and an enduring reputation for bad behavior,” said Tom Hollander. “He was also quite fat. Playing him was both a wonderful acting challenge and a great opportunity to eat things that I would normally have to avoid.”
Opening during Thomas’ fourth visit to the City that embraced him – during which he planned to rehearse, write and continue to party – he was commissioned by famous composer, Igor Stravinsky, to write an opera in Hollywood. However, out of money and struggling to make ends meet, Thomas had to earn enough to fund the trip. Fulfilling his commitment to completing a production at the prestigious Poetry Centre in Manhattan of “Under Milkwood,” he got to work creating a play that took his lifetime to complete. But what might have been a triumphant path in his career turned into a requiem for a man whose life had spiraled out of control.
With his marriage to the love of his life, Caitlin (Essie Davis, The Slap, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries), in shambles, illness plaguing him, no money, and wholly unhappy with his life, he spent countless hours partying hard, drunk and disillusioned. His life ended in 1953 on a smog-ridden November day in New York’s Chelsea hotel.
Moving between his gritty present in New York and the beautiful backdrops of the poet’s past life in his hometown of Laugharne in Wales, the drama explores how his experiences made his life virtually untenable and examines how his destructive personality played into his own demise.
A Poet in New York is a Modern Television production for BBC Cymru Wales. It is produced by Ruth Caleb. The executive producers are Griff Rhys Jones for Modern Television and Faith Penhale and Bethan Jones for BBC Cymru Wales and BBC Two.