Tuesday, 12 April 2011


The quiet South Wales seaside town of Port Talbot has an industrial past and an industrial present. As well as having a reputation for producing mammoth quantities of steel this unassuming place has also reared many a fine Welsh actor. Richard Burton grew up here, Stanley Baker (lead star of Zulu) was a Port Talbot boy as they say hereabouts. Sir Anthony Hopkins, Rob Brydon, Ivor Emmanuel (also of Zulu fame), Opera Singer Rebecca Evans, Paul Potts all were born with the smell of the steel plant sulphur in their lungs.

Michael Sheen - bringing the Passion of Christ to his home town
One may add another name to this list, that of Michael Sheen (the Brit who has played Tony Blair and President Nixon among many other key roles).  Mr Sheen is directing a Passion Play for the people, one that will be (apparently) as gritty and earthy as its surroundings.
It will take place on Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday and tickets, or, rather, wristbands will be on sale for £30 - no mean sum. And if you wish to attend what they call "The Supper" on the Saturday night, you pay an extra £20 -   including food! It will take place at the Sandfields Social & Labour Club....I will not be going!

This production, which will also feature Michael Sheen in the lead role, looks set to be yet another travesty of the tragedy of events surrounding the crucifixion of Christ. According to a local Catholic priest, 'Christ' will be arrested and taken to the town's police station, paraded through the streets and then the crucifixion will take place on a mound on the seafront which happens to be home to the municipal public lavatories.

Mr Sheen puts it rather differently:

"It's not a revival of the Passion Play - it's inspired by the Passion Play - we are going to use the whole of Port Talbot as our performance base and get as many people involved as we can," he added.
"I feel like it's a real privilege and honour to be able to come to my home town, a town that has so much meaning to me and that I have had so much support from."

Local Catholics see it from a different perspective. It will mean the whole town being closed to traffic for 3 days and some locals will be hard put to make it to  Mass. The Catholic clergy believe it is going to be an occasion for profanity with burger bars and hot dog stall owners making a killing while the general public watch a very slanted view of the agony of Our Lord. It would be wrong to comment further as I have only read the PR information that has been released but I have a terrible sinking feeling that this production will descend into blasphemy.

They would not get away with it if it was a cameo of the life of Mohammed.

No comments:

Post a Comment