Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins and Michael Sheen count amongst the world's most renowned and gifted actors. Yet they have something else in common: they all come from the south Wales steel town of Port Talbot. What is it about this industrial community that has produced such superstars?
Angela V. John, who also hails from the town, explores the lives of these acting legends before they became famous. She presents their emergence as part of a rich culture and commitment to drama long embedded in the town's history. She reveals too a host of other famous Port Talbot faces, from early stars such as Ronald Lewis and Ivor Emmanuel to more recent performers like Rob Brydon and Di Botcher, along with a cluster of young actors starting to make their mark on London's West End stage, and on the big and small screen. Her account culminates in the spectacular three-day event of Easter 2011 when Michael Sheen resurrected Port Talbot's pride and hopes through the unforgettable theatrical experience of The Passion.
This book puts centre-stage the shifting fortunes of a town, its actors and, crucially, its enablers - those unsung heroes who helped to nurture talent in schools, youth centres and youth theatre. Using extensive interviews, it provides a refreshing way of looking at the history of a community and a profession, as well as casting new and unexpected light on the backgrounds of its most famous stars.
Published in November 2015 by Parthian for £20 (hardback with 35 plate illustrations). Available in paperback (ISBN 978-1-910901-68-7) from October 2016. £9.99 sterling. Distributed in the US by IPG Chicago ($13.95).