It is with great sadness that I have to report the passing of Othniel Smith, of natural causes. It is a huge shock and so very sad. As Secretary of the Welsh Committee of WGGB for more than 20 years, Othniel was meticulous, generous, calm, intelligent, committed and thorough. He gave me, as Chair, confidence and steadfast support. As we all know, people come and go on committees, but Othniel was always, always there. Just as he was always there for many other people – colleagues and friends: always at every performance and production, contributing intelligent and thoughtful reviews to the British Theatre Guide and on his Blakeson blog, active in the union and Cult Cymru, and always an astute participant in the many campaigns and issues that have arisen over the years.
Othniel was also an artist in his own right, writing for television, radio and theatre. His plays included Giant Steps (Oval House and Chapter Arts Centre, 1998, published in New Welsh Drama II, Parthian Books, 2001), Fight of the Century (BBC Wales and the Sherman, 2002), See The Glory (read as part of Talawa’s Manz Like Me season at the Young Vic, 2008). He was a key writer for Made in Wales, the Cardiff-based company dedicated to new writing. Short stories and plays for BBC Radio Four included Thank You for Talking to Me Africa (1994) and Man Talk (2001). He wrote many episodes of the television series The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Kerching!, Hilltop Hospital and Tati’s Hotel. He also directed for theatre, and had more recently gained a doctorate in Independent Film from the University of Glamorgan, making many short films including Lulu Gay by Wallace Stevens, When We Two Parted by Lord Byron, When You Are Old by W B Yeats, which were shortlisted for the Ó’Bhéal International Poetry Film Competition at the IndieCork Festival of Independent Cinema (2013, 2014 and 2015) as was Census by Lissa Kiernan, which was also selected for the Zebra Poetry Film Festival, Minster, Germany (2016). The Want Of Intimacy was selected for Paradise Cinema at Paradise Music Festival, Victoria, Australia (2015), Jazz Fantasia by Carl Sandburg was selected for the New York Jazz Film Festival, New York (2016). Hope Is The Thing With Feathers by Emily Dickinson made the official selection for the Miniature Film Festival, Vancouver, Canada (November 2018 and 2019). He was currently working on Jamie Johnson Series 6 for CBBC.
Othniel also wrote the books Yer Blues, Miss Hanley’s Letter, Sons of Nervous Lovers, Gurls With Guitars and The True Story of my Alien Abductions: by Adrian Longton.
Othniel’s presence will be very much missed by so many, in so many spheres, particularly in Cardiff, and he will be long remembered. Ever modest, quiet, thoughtful, and above all else, so very gentle and kind. I will personally miss him hugely, and will remember how wonderful it was when something made him laugh or smile. Heartfelt condolences to his family.
Diolch am bopeth Othniel. Cysga’n dawel cariad.
Co-Chair, WGGB Welsh Committee