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Operation Julie – The drugs bust in rural 1970s Wales that shook the world

This is the kind of story that you’ve already heard whispers of.

This is the kind of story you can’t really believe happened. But you’ll talk to people about it and they’ll remember. They’ll know people who were there.

It’s a story that has grown beyond itself until the lines between truth and legend have blurred. A story that gripped village gossips and worldwide media alike.

If you’re fresh to this tale, let us start by telling you the facts.

The Facts

Operation Julie was the name given to one of the biggest undercover drugs operations in UK history, with 11 police forces and over 800 officers working throughout the mid-seventies.

It’s an investigation that started with a fatal car accident in Machynlleth which delivered an unexpected lead, and ended with an internationally co-ordinated drugs bust on 26 March 1977 during which 120 people were arrested across Wales, England and France.

The haul was staggering. There was enough LSD to reach a street value of £570 million today - the operation removed 90% of LSD from the UK market, causing it to rocket to 5 x its pre-1977 street price.

And the operation’s focus? The rural hillsides of west Wales.

But… here’s the really interesting bit. There’s more to this story than the facts.

It’s also about one man’s evangelical drive to transform human consciousness. It is about extraordinary people in unexpected places. It is about an operation that changed British policing forever. It is about mistaken identities, misleading conclusions and comic timing.

Theatr na nÓg are delighted to be working with Aberystwyth Arts Centre to bring a raucous prog-rock infused re-telling of Operation Julie to life. We'll be premiering the story at its place of origin, Tregaron, as part of the fringe events at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in 2020.

Join our mailing list to keep in the loop and for opportunities to contribute to the making of one of our most ambitious projects yet.

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Operation Julie - Yr achos cyffuriau yng nghefn gwlad Cymru yn y 70au a shiglodd y byd

Dyma’r fath o stori yr ydych eisoes wedi clywed sibrydion amdani.

Dyma’r fath o stori na fyddwch yn gallu credu ei bod erioed wedi digwydd. Ond byddwch yn siarad â phobl amdani a byddant yn cofio. Byddant yn adnabod pobl a oedd yno.

Mae’n stori sydd wedi esblygu y tu hwnt i bob dirnadaeth ac mae’r ffiniau rhwng y gwirionedd a’r hyn sy’n chwedloniaeth yn rhai amwys. Mae’n stori a gadwodd dafodau’r ardal leol yn brysur, yn ogystal â’r wasg fyd-eang.

Os nad ydych wedi clywed yr hanes, dewch i ni ddechrau drwy adrodd y ffeithiau.

Y Ffeithiau

Operation Julie oedd yr enw a roddwyd ar un o’r gweithrediadau cyffuriau, cudd mwyaf a welodd y DU erioed. Roedd heddluoedd o 11 llu a dros 800 swyddog yn gweithio ar yr achos yng nghanol y saithdegau.

Dechreuodd yr ymchwiliad yn sgil damwain car angheuol ym Machynlleth a roddodd abwyd annisgwyl i’r heddlu a daeth i ben mewn gweithrediad cyffuriau a gydlynwyd ar 26 Mawrth 1977 pan gafodd 120 o bobl eu harestio ledled Cymru, Lloegr a Ffrainc.

Roedd y llwyth cyffuriau y daethpwyd ar ei draws yn anhygoel. Canfuwyd LSD a allai gael ei werthu ar y stryd heddiw am 3570 miliwn. Yn sgil y gweithrediad, tynnwyd 90% o’r LSD o farchnad y DU a achosodd hyn i bris y cyffur esgyn i bum gwaith ei werth stryd cyn 1977.

Ble roedd canolbwynt y gweithrediad? Bryniau gwledig gorllewin Cymru.

Ond… a dyma’r hyn sydd wir yn ddiddorol; mae mwy i’r stori hon na’r ffeithiau’n unig.

Mae’n hanes am ysfa efengylaidd un dyn i drawsffurfio’r ymwybyddiaeth ddynol. Mae’n hanes am bobl eithriadol mewn mannau annisgwyl. Mae’n hanes am weithrediad a drawsnewidiodd blismona Prydeinig am byth. Mae’n hanes am gamsyniadau hunaniaeth, canfyddiadau camarweiniol ac amseru comig.

Mae Theatr na nÓg yn falch i fod yn cydweithio â Chanolfan y Celfyddydau yn Aberystwyth er mwyn cyflwyno’r perfformiad prog-rock, croch hwn o hanes Operation Julie. Cadwch olwg allan ar gyfer ein digwyddiad agoriadol arbennig yn Nhregaron, tarddle’r hanesyn a bydd y digwyddiad yn rhan o ddigwyddiadau ymylol Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru yn 2020.

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Charlotte a'r Cawr

Mae aelodau Ysgol Berfformio Soar wedi bod yn gweithio’n galed dros y tymor diwethaf i ddod a sgript Geinor Styles o ‘Charlotte a’r Cawr’ yn fyw! Mae’r grŵp yn cynnwys cymysgedd o blant o 5-12 mlwydd oed oedd wedi gweithio’n frwdfrydig fel cwmni i greu'r ddrama 40 munud llawn golygfeydd, dawnsio a chlipiau ffilm creuwyd y plant eu hunan ymlaen llaw.

Mae’r stori yn dilyn hanes Charlotte Guest nôl yn yr 19eg ganrif. Roedd Charlotte yn ymwybodol o ba mor bwysig oedd addysg a’u pwer i ‘ddangos y Byd mewn ffordd wahanol,’ Roedd Charlotte yn benderfynol o adeiladu ysgol ar gyfer y plant oedd yn gweithio yn y stablau i alluogi nhw i dderbyn addysg. Ond mae’r plant yn y ddrama yn poeni am golli arian am eu teuluoedd ac yn gosod allan i berswadio Charlotte nad oes angen iddyn nhw fynd i’r ysgol, a bod nhw’n gallu dychmygu a chreu’n barod. Maen nhw’n penderfynu adrodd storiâu’r Mabinogi iddi ac ar ôl dadlau dros eu hoff un, mae’r plant yn dewis adrodd hanes ‘Culhwch ac Olwen’.

Roedd Charlotte yn ieithydd o fry felly pan cyrhaeddodd hi Gymru, roedd hi’n benderfynol o ddysgu Cymraeg. Caniataodd hyn iddi allu cyfieithu storiâu’r Mabinogi i Saesneg yn 1838, ac rydym ni fel cynulleidfa yn rhannu’r foment lle mae Charlotte yn clywed y chwedlau am y tro cyntaf gan y plant.

Es i i Theatr Soar i gefnogi’r grwp gyda’r set a gwisgoedd. Roedd hi’n brofiad gwych gweithio gyda Emma, Mirain ar blant i greu drama mor lliwgar â chyffrous. Ar noson y sioe roedd pawb yn aros ar bwys organ Soar cyn dringo’r grisiau i berfformio i’w rhieni. Sibrydodd un o’r aelodau ieuengaf i fi cyn dechrau; “Fi’n mooooor ecseited,” yn troi’n goch!

Roedd hi’n hyfryd gweld y plant i gyd gyda’r un teimlad o gyffro, yn barod i berfformio a trio’u gorau. Mae’n wirioneddol yn dyst i ba mor galed y mae’r grŵp yn gweithio trwy gydol y flwyddyn i hybu hyder y plant.

Rhaid i fi ddiolch i bawb yn theatr Soar am y croeso cynnes, a dwi’n edrych ymlaen at weld pa fath o gynyrchiadau bydden nhw’n creu yn y dyfodol!

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Charlotte a'r Cawr - Charlotte and the Giant

Ysgol Berfformio Soar’s members have been working hard over the past term to bring Geinor Style’s script of ‘Charlotte and the Giant’ to life! The group includes a mixture of children from 5-12 years old, and they all worked enthusiastically as a company to create this 40-minute piece full of scenes, dancing and video clips all produced by them before-hand.

The story follows Charlotte Guest back in the 19th century. Charlotte knew how important education was saying that it ‘shows the world in a different light,’ and she was determined to build a school for the children that worked in the stables so that they could have an education. But the children in the play worry about losing money for their family and set out to persuade Charlotte that they don’t need to go to school and show that they can already create and have big imaginations. They decide to tell her the stories from the Mabinogi, and after debating over their favourite tales they decide to perform the tale of ‘Culhwch and Olwen.’

When Charlotte arrived in Wales she could already speak 7 languages, but then she also decided to learn Welsh. This allowed her to be able to translate the Mabinogi into English beginning in 1838, and we as an audience see the moment Charlotte hears them for the first time.

I was at Theatre Soar to help with the set and costumes. It was great experience working with Emma, Mirain and the children to make this production as colourful and exciting as possible. The evening of the show arrived, and I was waiting with the cast back stage ready to give them the go ahead to start the show when one of the youngest members whispered to me “I am soooooo excited,” turning almost red in the face as she did so. It was so lovely see them all with this reaction, so ready to perform and give it their best. It is truly a testament to how hard the group works throughout the year to build their confidence.

I have to thank everyone at Theatre Soar for the warm welcome, and I really look forward to seeing what other projects they produce over the next few months.

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