On Easter weekend in 2011, a 72-hour non-stop theatrical performance took place across Michael Sheen’s hometown of Port Talbot, Wales. Michael played The Teacher in a play inspired by the passion of Christ, where the focus is on the town itself and its people. The play’s script was written by Owen Sheers, who then went on to create a novel based on the play. Michael Sheen was creative director and co-director alongside Bill Mitchell.
Wildworks, the theatre company that produced the play, celebrates 10 years since it took place with a page with anecdotes from people who took part and a recording of Michael Sheen discussing his memories of the event:
People unable to go to Port Talbot for the play could take part via the website, port-talbot.com (no longer active). You can see a snapshot of the website on archive.org
A YouTube playlist of people’s videos of parts of the play (please let me know if you find more!):
in this Guardian interview Michael said: “The original story in the bible is a series of events that are recounted by a number of people, and that’s what all the gospels are, there are the official gospels and the apocryphal gospels, there’s all these different versions of the story. So I like the idea that maybe our story could work like that as well […] there was every single person who had a mobile phone there over the three days, of which there were a lot, filming everything, they’ve all got their own gospels”
A video appeared online during the weekend of the performance, showing what happened to The Teacher before the events of the play.
Michael gives more information about the video in this Twitter thread:
“… There was a guy who managed to work out an online mystery to do with the town ‘Resistance’ who got to be inside the social club for this. It only had room for about 100 I think. The thousands of others were out in the car park watching it all on a screen.)
He was told someone would make contact at some point in there and secretly give him something he had to smuggle out and give to the rest of the Resistance. He was so nervous going in I was told. Anyway our bartender played by the brilliant Jordan Bernarde passed him an envelope..
It said “Get this to my daughter” on it. He immediately and secretly left and was met by some Resistance members who he gave the envelope to. Inside was a memory stick. There were instructions to upload whatever was on it at a particular time and make it public.
The next evening – Sunday, the final day of the performance – culminated with my character being crucified on the roundabout down by the beach. As the cross lifted me up and came to rest to the sound of my screams the contents of the memory stick went ‘live’ online.
This is what was on it.”
You can also see an archive.com snapshot of a post about this from the port-talbot.com website
Michael talks about a part of the play where a dance is performed that was inspired by a young girl, Chloe:
Michael Sheen discusses the upcoming play on This Morning:
Also on Fern:
The National Theatre Wales page on the play, which includes a downloadable programme.
BBC Radio 3 – Arts and Ideas (18-04-2011)
A documentary was made by BBC Wales about the play, in two parts: Passion in Port Talbot
A film of the play was released the following year: The Gospel of Us
Also see the tag The Passion Of Port Talbot for all the interviews in which Michael has talked about the play.