As the snap election approaches amongst predictions of the Labour Party losing its traditional stronghold in Wales, National Theatre Wales has announced new projects that will focus on two totems of Wales’ long history of collectivism and industry; the birth of the National Health Service, brainchild of Tredegar-born Aneurin Bevan in 1948, and the Port Talbot steelworks.
We’re Still Here, a new production inspired by the real people behind the politically-charged headlines in Port Talbot, is about the town’s steelworks, and the community that relies on them. Six years after National Theatre Wales staged its iconic The Passion in Port Talbot on Easter weekend 2011, the company returns to the town with multi-award-winning theatre company Common Wealth, to stage this brand new play written by Rhondda-born Rachel Trezise.
Inspired by conversations with steelworkers, union members and the wider community, We’re Still Here will be the first theatrical response to one of the biggest recent news stories in Wales – which resonates with steel towns the world over – and will feature evocative soundscapes and visual feats in a jaw-dropping setting. It will be performed in the Byass Works warehouse in the town from 15 to 30 September 2017, and is on sale now.
Commenting on We’re Still Here, Common Wealth said:
“We were drawn to Port Talbot because of the powerful voices that were coming out of the recent Save Our Steel campaign. Watching the campaign unfold and the community rally together gave us hope in a time where we don’t usually see people stand together for what they believe in. For us, seeing working class leaders organise and inspire communities felt so necessary in a time when working class people are often marginalised from public debate.
“Interviewing steelworkers and union leaders has taught us so much about looking after each other, dignity and the importance of saying ‘no’. We see this production as an opportunity to champion and share the wisdom from the Save Our Steel Campaign, for us to remember who we are, where we come from and what we can be.”
Further ahead, to mark the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service in 2018, National Theatre Wales calls on people in Wales to share their stories of the impact it has had on their lives, for a series of seven live and digital productions made across Wales. They can do so by:
- visiting www.nationaltheatrewales.org/nhs70 and filling in an online form
- post to National Theatre Wales, 30 Castle Arcade, Cardiff CF10 1BW
- on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nationaltheatrewales, or
- by leaving the company a message on your preferred social media platform using the hashtag #MyNHS70
Speaking about NHS70, National Theatre Wales’ Artistic Director Kully Thiarai said: “The National Health Service was a big idea, born in Wales at a time of austerity. Its core principles of a health service free at the point of use and available to all has affected the lives of millions of people across Britain, and 70 years on, NTW joins the people of Wales in celebrating one of its biggest and far-reaching achievements.”
Both productions are in keeping with the company’s tradition of making work inspired by real stories told by the people most affected.
Further productions are to be announced later in the year.