BETWEEN 1936-39, some 300 people from Wales enlisted into the International Brigades to fight the rise of fascism in Spain.

It's thought about 35 of them died on Spanish soil during the brutal conflict between the democratically elected Republican Government and General Franco's fascist army.

Many of the volunteers thought of themselves as Communists, with a political ideology forged from tough, working-class lives in mining communities or the steel and gas works of North Wales.

"Even though I was born and raised in Wales I realised I didn't actually know that much about Welsh history," says Chelsey Gillard, co-founder of PowderHouse, a Cardiff-based theatre company behind a new play Saethu Cwningod/Shooting Rabbits, which comes to Mold's Theatr Clwyd in May. "I knew nothing in particular about Wales' more modern history but thankfully Jac Ifan Moore (co-founder of PowderHouse) had a much broader knowledge and he started talking about the Welsh miners who went over to Spain to fight in the Civil War.

"It prompted a discussion about what things we would feel that passionately about now and if there was anything we would willingly lay our lives on the line for. Death isn't a daily reality for us anymore and we're not working these hard, physical jobs where death could be around the corner."

Just last week, Geoffrey Servante, almost certainly the last surviving British member of the International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War, died aged 99, brining to a close an extraordinary link to the past that is still felt keenly in Wales.

"One thing we were really aware of while writing Shooting Rabbits was the rise in populism and right wing politics across Europe and very close to home," continues Chelsey. "It's everywhere at the moment but the Spanish Civil War was a moment of real connection between Wales and the rest of Europe. We're not making a show about Brexit but we are still making a show while Brexit is happening and we can't ignore.

"What's happened in those 80 years between putting your life on the line for a European utopia and now a situation where we are saying actually we don't want any part of Europe? How do we even try to make sense of that? Nowadays we think a petition or joining a march or taking direct action is what you should be doing but is there a right thing to do?"

PowderHouse use the story of one man's fight to explore the relationship between Wales and Europe in a time of crisis and bigger issues around where we are now.

"Saethu Cwningod/Shooting Rabbits will be an explosion of sound and image, exploring what it is to have a political voice in Wales and the wider world today," says Chelsey. "The dynamic physical storytelling and live music will mean that the show can be understood by anyone who speaks one, two, or even none of the languages used in the piece.

"Some things - like love and war - can be understood in any language. We are making the show with artists from across Europe who are at the top of their game and we can't wait to tour it around Wales."

Jac adds: "It's about that rage. The UK seems to be rediscovering political rage, on both sides of the political spectrum, and I'm interested in that; whether your throat is hoarse from screaming for climate action, a second referendum or for Tommy Robinson."

Sam Humphreys of traditional Welsh folk band, Calan, will provide a soundtrack combining guitar and electronic elements and Chelsey says his music has become an integral part of the play.

"He's working as part of the ensemble," she says. "He's on stage at all times and works with the actors to establish mood and atmosphere - he is our rhythm section and makes sure we are on track and going in the direction we need to go."

The play takes its title from a famous quotation "If I can shoot rabbits/then I can shoot fascists" which is attributed to a remark made by a man to his brother who signed up with the Republican fighters and originally quoted in the book Miners Against Fascism by Hywel Francis. It was later used by the Manic Street Preachers as a lyric in their 1998 UK number one If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next.

"There is a wealth of material from the Welsh fighters," says Chelsey. "They have been from working-class backgrounds but they were very eloquent and we have drawn on those resources. We thought the title was playful but also encapsulated the violence of warfare and as a title it draws people in."

Saethu Cwningod/Shooting Rabbits is at Theatr Clwyd, Mold, on Tuesday, May 7, at 7.45pm. Tickets: £10-£16 (under 26 £10)

For details or to book tickets, call the bx office on 01352 701521 or go online at