The Aberfan disaster in 1966 brought a small Welsh mining village to international attention when an unstable tip of coal waste collapsed into a wet landslide, ploughing through the school and neighbouring houses to bring death and destruction. To mark the 50th anniversary of the tragedy, acclaimed writer Owen Sheers visited local people to hear their stories. Drawing on those interviews, The Green Hollow tells the story from the inside, focusing on a small group of characters: children and adults, the dead, the rescuers and the survivors. Beginning in the early morning of the fateful day, the tale unfolds through their words, from the shock of the event and fear turning to grief as bodies are disinterred from the filth, until after decades, the village begins to find ways to recover.
Giving voice to both the dead and the living, Sheers transforms lived history into a deeply moving poetic drama. Recreating the life of a community dominated by the coal industry, he contrasts the solidarity and resilience of the community with the staggering indifference of managers and politicians before and after the disaster. Celebrating the courage of the villagers but clear in its condemnation of authority, The Green Hollow is a controlled but heartfelt, lyrical evocation of shared loss and communal struggle.
‘Aberfan seems to have been left unmarked by any British poet laureate...Fifty years on, Owen Sheers has finally offered the tribute due from a laureate.’
The Arts Desk