Michael Sheen 'THE PASSION' - Port Talbot


What locals have been


"I'm impressed with the way it has brought the community together. Michael Sheen is such a great ambassador for the town." Janet , Baglan

'Michael Sheen's just brilliant!'

Tracy, Margam

'Can't believe I'm going to be on film..'

Val from Sandfields

"It is great to see such a crowd here, it is what Aberavon used to be like years ago. Michael Sheen is great he always talks up the town."  Steve, Port Talbot

'These people are just loving what's going on. Nothing's like this has ever been done before..'

Phil, Taibach

'Can't wait for tomorrow..the filming's going to be great'

Briony, Sandfields

'Wish Katherine Jenkins would do something like this in Neath'

Jason, Neath

'Got my camera ready'

Jules.. Killay, Swansea

i love Quidco Blue

"Port Talbot has never seen anything like this,"  Meyrick Sheen.

"This play could have been re-enacted anywhere else... Michael wanted to come to Port Talbot and for that we thank him”

Steve Redmore Aberafan Shopping Centre manager


A Steel Town With Desire?

(One man's noble attempt at applying the gloss to some tired old paintwork!)

From time to time strange things happen. From time to time things happen that change things forever. At the moment strange things are happening in Port Talbot. That’s right – Port Talbot. Where? you say..

Port Talbot is a steel town in the country (Principality) of Wales in the United Kingdom. The town boasts a population of around 35,000 during the week and is perched between the sea and the land; a stones throw away from Cardiff and a hop skip and a jump from Swansea. The Principality’s two premier cities with their breathtaking coastlines and 21st demeanor. Heavy, steel industry defines Port Talbot. Mines are so last century so I suppose someone has to help prop up the economy. century developments somewhat overshadow Port Talbot’s industrialised  With Cardiff and Swansea adding the gloss to a country of just over 3 million it’s left to Port Talbot to add the sheen, well, to be more precise, Michael Sheen. Prodigal actor Michael Sheen has returned home just in time for Easter. Or has he? Michael Sheen is an extremely famous actor, and, just like Richard Burton and Sir Anthony Hopkins he’s from Port Talbot. Burton passed away in 1984 and I doubt you’ll ever see Sir Anthony back in Wales again let alone Port Talbot. Michael Sheen is back in his home town for a very special reason – to work. Yes that’s right Michael Sheen aka, Tony Blair, David Frost, Kenneth Williams, Brian Clough and countless others is returning to Port Talbot to star in The Passion, a unique one-off theatre event that will be performed continuously at different locations in town of Port Talbot over the Easter weekend. Michael will be co-directing and starring in ‘The Passion’ and he will be joined by professional actors from Port Talbot and neighbouring Neath for the three-day performance from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. (22nd – 24th April 2011).

“If I was going to do something, there was only one community I wanted to do it in, and it’s this one, because it’s where I grew up and it’s my home.”

"Everyone is deeply excited about the event and can't wait to share it with the wider public."

Theatre director John McGrath.


 'So what' you say. Well, what makes this whole project totally amazing and life-changing is that in total the play will be supported by 1,000s of cast members, theatre groups, locals and bystanders. The stage will be the beach, the town and the mountains surrounding Port Talbot. This project has been inspired by Port Talbot’s once traditional passion play which finally came to an end in 1998. The Passion depicts the town taken over by authoritarian forces. Sheen's involvement along with the people of Port Talbot will be in a specially adapted contemporary version of the Passion Play. Basically, the story is of Jesus’ crucifixion. Sheen will stay in character as a “Jesus-like figure” who comes to the town, revolutionises it and is eventually sacrificed, or so we think!

“It’s a three-day, non-stop production that starts on the afternoon of Good Friday and ends on Easter Sunday,” said a National Theatre Wales spokeswoman.

“Across the weekend there will be programmed events which run only once. But around these key events there will be constant unscheduled activity.” One of the major elements to excite Sheen was the fact that this project wasn’t going to be building based and was going to take place in the actual community. Sheen has never hidden the affection he holds for his home, Port Talbot. “If I was going to do something, there was only one community I wanted to do it in, and it’s this one, because it’s where I grew up and it’s my home.” You can read the more detailed interview here http://www.michael-sheen.co.uk/newsdesk/2010/10/11/thisissouthwales-talk-to-michael-sheen-about-passions/

‘The Seaside Social and Labour Club’

 THE SUPPER - ACT 06 - Saturday Night 7.30/8pm - Seaside Social Club (SA12 6SL)

Tickets have sold out but as Sheen has hinted continually over the last couple of week’s people can just turn up and get involved. It would be impossible to close off the town so Sheen’s words are mightily comforting to those people who have missed the boat on tickets. You’ll just possibly not be right up close to the action but nevertheless you’ll be there soaking up the unique atmosphere. The local council will be able to close off some of the locations and roads at certain times although outside locations will be available by foot. ‘The Seaside Social and Labour Club’ (see pic above) will feature the ‘Supper’ and will also feature a set from Welsh rockers ‘Manic Street Preachers’ and another local hero, Paul Potts, so is strictly ticket only. 

As with any town, closing major roads will cause huge complications, and besides, people live in those streets and will need to be going about their daily business. Undoubtedly, for a number of locals the whole business is somewhat confusing. People cannot get their heads around how the whole project is going to work. For example, what if 10,000 people turn up at Llewellyn Street or at Abbeyville Court Across the road from the Seaside Social and Labour Club you have Abbeyville Court. Below is a curious scene. Is that some kind of platform from which someone's ready to spread the word?

THE GARDEN ACT 07 - Saturday Night 9.30pm - Abbeyville Court (SA12 6RF)

Any questions regarding the logistics of the whole operation will undoubtedly be answered when Friday 22nd finally arrives. Obviously the task facing Sheen is both hugely exciting and daunting. It’s rumoured that Sheen will be spending one of the nights sleeping on Mynydd Dinas, (see one of the above pictures) the mountain overlooking Port Talbot. He’s already said he will not be residing with his parents on this visit. Sheen’s dad, Meyrick Sheen will also be immersed in the project. No stranger to the public eye, Sheen senior is a tireless charity fundraiser and part time professional look-alike. Back in 1989 ‘Batman the Movie’ came to Port Talbot’s Plaza Cinema. Meeting and greeting the punters that week was one Jack Napier aka The Joker aka Meyrick Sheen – a masterstroke of brilliance for the owners yet a number of punters were freaked out such was Sheen’s scintillating performance as Nicholson’s villainous Napier. The Plaza cinema now has listed status but is no longer in business but the seafront boasts the Apollo Cinema group. But even today the Plaza still has its part to play in Port Talbot’s Passion.

For the week approaching the Easter weekend the town’s hotels are sold out and the local economy is bracing itself for a welcome injection of Easter bank holiday income. Aberavon Beach is again likely to witness the crowds of yesteryear albeit in a totally different, unique setting.

THE ARRIVAL -ACT 01 - Friday Afternoon 3pm - Aberavon Seafront  (SA12 6QW or SA12 6QP – Postcodes of Four Winds Hotel and Aberafan Hotel which are central)

 THE CROSS ACT 10 - Sunday Evening 8pm - Aberavon Seafront

(SA12 6QW or SA12 6QP - Postcodes of Four Winds Hotel and Aberafan Hotel which are central)

Another of the main locations central to the performance and at the east foot of Mynydd Dinas is Llewellyn Street. Llewellyn Street also featured in the 1997 film 'Twin Town' which starred Rhys Ifans. Also featuring, just under the railway line and around the corner is Castle Street. (link will take you Castle Street pics). At the end of Castle Street stands St Mary’s Church (SA12 6DU, follow this link to info and pics). Buried next to the main entrance to the church is one Richard Lewis. Richard Lewis aka Dic Penderyn was a Welsh Chartist who was wrongly convicted of wounding soldier, Private Donald Black, with a bayonet during the Merthyr Rising of 1831. 

Was Dic Penderyn's death another case of someone suffering a public death for his beliefs?

It would be churlish to even contemplate drawing out any kind of comparisons between the somewhat tenuous link between a central character of the Merthyr uprisings in 1831 and the updated story of the crucifixion even if it happens to be taking place just around the corner. Sheen’s awaited depiction of Christ like that of the late Brian Clough will surely be a sight to behold. Whatever one’s design for life, religious believer or not the greatest story on earth will always be offered up to the next generation in its own ubiquitous manner. One thing’s for sure, we’ll never ever know what Christ uttered to his persecutors but wouldn’t it be nice to hazard a guess at -

 “I wouldn’t say I was the best Saviour in the business. But I was in the top one!”

J.Smart 2011

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