NTW, Wildworks and Michael Sheen
Script and Novelisation by Owen Sheers
Creative Director Michael Sheen
Co-Directors Bill Mitchell and Michael Sheen
Over the Easter Weekend 2011
Reviewed by Chelsey Gillard
Photos by Chelsey Gillard,
except Beach scene by Scott Dale
Taking a world famous story that almost everyone has heard and placing it into the heart of a town that almost no one has heard of was no easy task for NTW’s last production of this season. Taking place over the Easter weekend ‘The Passion’ was staged at various locations throughout the industrial town of Port Talbot, giving a modern spin on the Biblical events.
Delivered as a full-on multimedia experience, it was tremendously successful as a whole. Utilising the talents of various local filmmakers, graffiti artists, bloggers and of course actors, the people of Port Talbot must have felt totally immersed in the production. Attention to little details was incredible; posters for “The last Supper” were on walls next to genuine advertisements, production staff wore “Company” uniforms and certain characters kept popping up in the crowds.
|The production started and ended at the beach, drawing in huge crowds.|
Unfortunately each “event” as a singular piece did not live up to expectation. The idea that you could dip in and out of the events at will was very misleading. I was only able to attend the events on Sunday and for the “Trail” event I felt completely lost. Being unable to see or hear properly did not help matters. It seems more energy was spent on the little things rather than the actual delivery of live performance.
|Some of the graffiti in the underpass|
Fortunately the three novellas, titled “The Gospel of Us”, released throughout the weekend made everything much clearer. So well written, they are the one part of the production that could stand alone, they gave a dramatised view of the proceedings from the viewpoint of a local. Certain characters and events were purely plot devices and seemed a little contrived but even this was forgivable as the main story was certainly worth taking notice of.
Set in an alternative reality where a sinister “Company” has complete control over the industrial town, the main messages were of community spirit and remembering your heritage. The Passion certainly brought all sorts out of their houses, mingling with one another, neighbours were chatting, strangers were welcomed and everyone felt part of something special.
|Clothes suspended from lamposts created a spooky reminder of the ending of the tale|
Watching the crucifixion on a roundabout by the beach, whether religious or not, I don’t think a single person could not be moved by the staggering performance of Michael Sheen. Having dragged a cross from the centre of town to the beach front for hours, the look of desperation was clear on his face. As he delivered his final speech affixed to the cross, the crowd’s reaction to him was overwhelming. This was where all the organisation and attention to detail paid off. A local choir sung as images were projected onto a water feature behind the cross to create a totally emotional piece of live theatre.
This huge undertaking, although flawed was truly moving. Anyone who attended the final scenes will be haunted by its beauty for a long time. Congratulations to all involved for creating a totally unique experience that not only Port Talbot, but the whole of Wales can be proud of.
To see the blog created to accompany the production please visit : www.port-talbot.com
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