In October 2007 Ray Gravell, a man who for many embodied what it is to be Welsh, passed away after succumbing to complications resulting from contracting diabetes. He was 56 years old.
Known to millions for his legendary exploits on the rugby field, ‘Grav’ was and is so much more than that. An actor, a cultural icon, a father, a husband, a man with a life packed full of stories that deserve to be heard once more.
Gareth J Bale reprises the role of ‘Grav’ in this remarkable one-man show exploring the life and times of one of Wales’ most loved sons, Ray Gravell, written by Owen Thomas.
“An unashamed crowd-pleaser, pushing the audience’s patriotic buttons whilst retaining a genial tone throughout... with a central performance which will engage even non-rugby fans, this is robust and charming entertainment.”
British Theatre Guide
“In this extraordinary and wonderful one-man play Gareth (John) Bale shows us he has as masterly a grasp of the art of theatre as his namesake, Gareth Bale, has of the art of international football.”
Theatre In Wales
With the blessing of Mari, Ray’s widow, and contributions from his Welsh and British Lions team mates, this one-man show will explore the life of a man who was as fascinating away from the rugby field as he was on it.
Directed by the Torch Theatre’s Artistic Director Peter Doran, ‘Grav’ will remind the you once more of a unique life well lived and of a man who did so much more than eat soft centres.
Whether you are a Rugby fan or not, only the hardest of hearts would fail to enjoy this production...
* Laurel Award Winner - Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 2015
Best Production – Wales Theatre Awards, 2016
About Ray Gravell
“Gravell is passionately Welsh. Llywelyn, the last real Prince of Wales, died in 1282, but spiritually Gravell belongs to his army.” - Carwyn James, The Guardian (November 1982)
In October 2007 Ray Gravell, a man who for many embodied what it is to be Welsh, passed away after succumbing to complications resulting from contracting diabetes. He was 56 years old. Known to millions for his legendary exploits on the rugby field, Grav was and is so much more than that. An actor, a cultural icon, a father, a husband, a man with a life packed full of stories that deserve to be heard once more...
Raymond ‘Ray’ William Robert Gravell was a Welsh rugby union centre who played club rugby for Llanelli RFC.
At international level, he earned 23 caps for Wales and was selected for the 1980 British Lions tour to South Africa. Ray later became a well-respected English and Welsh language broadcaster and actor.
During his film career, Ray starred alongside Peter O’Toole in one of his most notable performances in ‘Rebecca’s Daughters’, a comedy film directed by Karl Francis, based on a story by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. Ray was also an active supporter of the Welsh National Eisteddfod and held the ceremonial position of Grand Sword Bearer.
Ray’s passing in 2007 marked exactly 35 years to the day after the Scarlets won their famous win over New Zealand.
His death was mourned by people throughout Wales and beyond, but his legacy lives on through his family and through the Ray Gravell Charitable Trust. The Welsh academic and historian Hywel Teifi Edwards wrote, ‘Stories will be told about him with gusto in years to come by people who never met him, and I’m quite convinced that stories were fashioned with Grav in mind centuries ago’.
“He displayed great courage and equally great resilience on the rugby field and he showed those exceptional qualities off the field in recent months following his illness” – Gerald Davies, Former British & Irish Lion and WRU Director.
The late First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, commented: “He was a fantastic, extrovert character. I am desperately sad for his family, but they will draw strength from his bravery...”
Rhodri Morgan went on to describe Ray as someone who‘ would have tackled a Sherman tank if it played for the other side.’
“We think of him and Steve Fenwick as one of the great Welsh centre pairings. He was an outstanding centre in one of the outstanding eras of Welsh rugby.”
As a rugby player, Ray forever showed a huge degree of respect towards his opponents but never stepped back against anyone on the field of play.
In the words of former WRU chief executive Roger Lewis, “It is a measure of the man that he forged rugby friendships which lasted a lifetime.”
About the Show
Grav is a one man show starring Gareth J Bale that pays tribute to one of Wales’ most loved sons, Ray Gravell. After meeting Gareth back in 2011, the Torch Theatre’s Artistic Director, Peter Doran offered his full support in producing and directing this show. Since then, they haven’t looked back.
Over the past 7 years, Grav has toured five times, won awards both at the Edinburgh Fringe and Wales Theatre Awards, played at Ray’s home village of Mynyddygarreg, opened the 2015 Rugby World Cup in Rugby, writer Owen Thomas’s script was published in 2016,
and, in 2018 played in both New York and Washington DC.
The show has now been seen by thousands, including a number of Ray’s team mates and rugby legends: Sir Gareth Edwards, Phil Bennett, Delme Thomas, Gareth Jenkins, Scott Hastings, Jim Renwick, Rupert Moon, all of whom have given their seal of approval.
Grav has the full blessing of Ray’s wife Mari and his daughters Manon and Gwenan, who travelled with the team to see the show in New York.
“…It put us in a really good place mentally wise and we should have played straight after it. If we can in any way match Gareth Bale’s performance on Saturday, it doesn’t matter if the roof is open or closed, there will only be one result.” - Robin McBryde [Wales Assistant Coach]
“The play was very good, it was powerful, and definitely showed the pride that Grav had, and we all have, in Wales...”
- George North [Wales and British Lions]
“To see this at the Royal College of Music and Drama on St David’s Day was an emotional experience. His quirky insecurities were brilliantly portrayed. He would always be asking me 'How am I doing, Doc?' And I would say 'Grav... just let me concentrate on my own game... you’re doing fine!' Thank you for the experience”
- J. P. R. Williams, MBE FRCS
“I had a wonderful evening - the production was exceptionally well-acted, well-written, at times touching and at others incredibly funny.”
- Delyth Jewell [Assembly Member of the National Assembly for Wales]
“An unashamed crowd-pleaser, pushing the audience’s patriotic buttons whilst retaining a genial tone throughout... with a central performance which will engage even non-rugby fans, this is robust and charming entertainment.” - British Theatre Guide
“...fitting tribute to the rugby legend... Writer Owen Thomas has penned a beautifully lyrical script” - The Western Mail
“You don’t need to be a rugger bugger – or Welsh – to enjoy this powerful, passionate play” - Edinburgh Festivals Magazine
“In this extraordinary and wonderful one-man play Gareth (John) Bale shows us he has as masterly a grasp of the art of theatre as his namesake, Gareth Bale, has of the art of international football.” - Theatre In Wales
“This is an incredibly moving tale. Bale’s performance is exceptional and he keeps the audience enthralled right up to the very end” - Daily Post
“Grav was a great friend, everybody loved him and tonight you captured him brilliantly. Very funny and exceptionally moving. I could sit through it again.” - Sir Gareth Edwards
“Gareth J Bale’s performance is brilliant, and he holds the audience right up until the last word.” - Buzz Magazine
“There are several moments when Bale delivers emotion-laden lines that have a visible effect on some members of the audience. Peter Doran, as director, and writer Owen Thomas, must get their fair share of the credit for bringing this amazing show to fruition.” - thegoodreview.co.uk
“In addition to the terrific acting and direction, credit is also undoubtedly given to writer of the play, Owen Thomas for his clever humour entwined with the poignant themes of the play... The show will never be forgotten by me” - cardiffstudentmedia.co.uk
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