Church opening up to welcome Michael Sheen's Passion players
PORT Talbot church members are preparing to welcome people who are taking part in Michael Sheen's Passion play.
The doors of St Mary's Church will be left open on Friday, April 22, and Saturday, April 23 during the open air play held over Easter weekend.
The Aberavon church will see five hours of continuous drama taking place in and just outside the churchyard on Saturday, and the church will be open from 10am to 6pm to give visitors a chance to go inside and receive free tea, coffee and bottled water.
In total the three-day play, which is being staged by National Theatre Wales, will be supported by 1,000 cast members from the community, as well as 14 local professional actors and Michael Sheen, who is the creative director.
Rector of St Mary's, Canon Nigel Cahill, said: "The story that is unfolding on our streets in the next week will mirror that of Jesus Christ, and it comes at a time when Christians throughout the world will be remembering the great themes of betrayal, sacrifice and love.
"I think everyone in Port Talbot is excited about the play, and we welcome anyone to come and visit us at the church.
"Some of the actors will be inside the church at times and outside by the graves and we hope to see many people coming along to watch."
But before all the action takes place, a service will be held this Sunday at 6pm, where people representing some of the groups taking part will join Michael Sheen in lighting a candle as a sign of prayer.
Parishioners Alan Davies, who took part in the Margam Passion Play Behold the Man, and Len Jones, will be amongst those at the service.
Mr Davies, who is a poet, author and amateur actor, said: "I am delighted that Michael Sheen has spoken of how he was motivated when younger by many of those I am going to remember on Sunday night as I light my candle in St Mary's.
"I had the privilege of acting with Michael in a production to celebrate Glan Afan school's centenary some years ago."
Len Jones, a former churchwarden of St Mary's and secretary of the Llandaff Diocese Lay Preachers, will also light a candle during the service.
"We are all wishing this production well," he said.
"It is an exciting time for our town and for our church, and we want to make the building available for anyone who feels the need for peace."
The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, has also sent a message to be read at the service on Sunday.
"Port Talbot needs the strength of this salvation story, just as we all do," he said.
"I am delighted that Michael Sheen and his company are taking over the town with this story."
The church is also seeking volunteers to help ensure the grounds are tidy before and during Easter weekend.
Anyone interested should contact Lorna on 01639 774774 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.