In a spectacular finale to its triumphant launch year, National Theatre Wales joins forces with WildWorks and brings Port Talbot-born actor Michael Sheen back home to star in The Passion - a one-off theatre event with the community of Port Talbot at its very heart.
Easter. Port Talbot is in a battle for its life. Authoritarian forces have taken over the town and plan to change it forever. The atmosphere is explosive. Resistance is inevitable. How far will each side go? Into this comes a man who needs to listen. The stories he hears and the community he witnesses make him the most dangerous element of all.
Taking inspiration from one of the defining narratives of our times, this tumultuous production, scripted by Owen Sheers, and co-directed by Michael Sheen and Bill Mitchell, will take place across the town, with the people of Port Talbot as its cast, crew, and heroes.
The Passion is a three-day non-stop production which starts on the afternoon of Good Friday and ends on Easter Sunday evening. Across the weekend, there are programmed events which run only once, but around these key events, there will be constant unscheduled activity. Audiences can choose to attend one, some, or all of the weekend events, and may catch some unexpected surprises.
The cast includes 14 professional actors from Port Talbot and Neath: Matthew Aubrey, Nigel Barrett, Jordan Bernarde, Di Botcher, Darren Lawrence, John-Paul Macleod, Rhys Matthews, Francine Morgan, Kristian Phillips, Kyle Rees, Michael Sheen, Hywel Simons, David Rees Talbot, and Matthew Woodyatt. The character of the outsider will be played by Gerald Tyler. More than 1,000 local volunteer cast members will also perform in the production.
Recognised as one of the most talented of the new generation of British actors, Michael Sheen is equally accomplished on stage and screen. He has most recently has been - and heard - in a wide range of performances including: Tron, The Damned United, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Alice in Wonderland; Frost/Nixon, Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans, Music Within, his Emmy®-nominated starring role in The Special Relationship, and a recurring role on the hit comedy, 30 Rock. He will return to the stage later this year to play the title role in Hamlet, at the Young Vic in London. He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London where, in his second year, he won the coveted Laurence Olivier Bursary for consistently outstanding performances. Michael has since received several accolades including Olivier Award nominations for Frost/Nixon (starring as David Frost in the London and Broadway productions), Look Back in Anger, Caligula and as Mozart in the West End production of Peter Hall's revival of Amadeus. Television credits include his BAFTA-nominated performance as Kenneth Williams in the BBC's Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa!, and a BAFTA-nomination for his performance in Dirty Filthy Love. He was awarded an OBE in 2009.
Co-director Bill Mitchell has been making theatre for 35 years. He has worked with many companies and theatres around the country including The Young Vic, Bristol Old Vic, Welfare State, Walk the Plank and The National Theatre. He has lived and worked in Cornwall for 23 years, 18 of those with Kneehigh Theatre where he eventually became Artistic Director in 1997. Bill is an Honorary Fellow of University College Falmouth and lives in Redruth.
In 2005, Bill created his own company WildWorks to pioneer his passion; large site-specific landscape-Theatre Projects. At the moment, WildWorks is enjoying a two-year residency in Kensington Palace with the much-acclaimed Enchanted Palace. (www.wildworks.biz)
Owen Sheers was born in Fiji in 1974, and brought up in Abergavenny, South Wales. His debut prose work The Dust Diaries, a non-fiction narrative set in Zimbabwe, was short-listed for the Royal Society of Literature's Ondaatje Prize and won the Welsh Book of the Year 2005. Owen's second collection of poetry, Skirrid Hill (Seren, 2005), won a 2006 Somerset Maugham Award. Owen's collaboration with composer Rachel Portman, The Water Diviner's Tale, an oratorio for children, was premiered at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms 2007. Owen's first novel, Resistance (Faber, 2008) won a 2008 Hospital Club Creative Award and was short-listed for the Writers Guild Best Book Award. Resistance has been translated into ten languages. He recently wrote and presented the BBCFour television series A Poet's Guide to Britain and wrote the introduction and selected the poems for the accompanying anthology. His novella White Ravens (Seren, 2009), published as part of Seren's 'New Stories from the Mabinogion' series, is a contemporary response to the myth of 'Branwen Daughter of Ll?r'. Owen has recently co-written the screenplay for the film of Resistance, due to be released in 2011.