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The Passion scoops theatre award

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Polly March Polly March | 16:39 UK time, Monday, 31 October 2011

Michael Sheen and Bill Mitchell have been basking in glory after winning the best director award at the Theatre Awards UK ceremony in London.

The pair shared the gong, which is one of the top accolades in British theatre, for their epic 72-hour performance of The Passion, staged over the Easter weekend in Port Talbot.

On Twitter, National Theatre Wales tweeted that Sheen had thanked "my beautiful town of PortTalbot for giving me the most meaningful, powerful experience of my life".

And on accepting the award from actress Gina McKee, Mitchell thanked the generosity and bravery of Port Talbot in accepting the production.

National Theatre of Wales director John McGrath tweeted his congratulations on hearing the news: "So very happy for @michaelsheen and Bill Mitchell @WILD_WORKS for their best Director award today. Well done both and well done Port Talbot!"

Michael Sheen. Photo: National Theatre Wales

Michael Sheen. Photo: Dan Green/National Theatre Wales

Bill Mitchell during a Passion rehearsal. Photo: Dan Green/National Theatre Wales

Bill Mitchell during a Passion rehearsal. Photo: Dan Green/National Theatre Wales

Interestingly, Sheen himself seems to have left Twitter over the weekend, having posted the following message on the site on Sunday:

Goodbye to Twitter. Thanks to everyone who has been generous and kind. I wish you the best with all you do. To the rest, you have to live with yourselves. What you put out there is what you make for yourself to live in, for better or worse. Share, inspire, connect. Good luck. x

The awards were handed out by the Theatrical Management Association to honour the best regional theatre from around the UK.

Other winners included Sir Peter Hall and his son Edward and Sir Derek Jacobi, who won best performance in a play for the Donmar Warehouse production of King Lear.

Sir Peter, who founded the Royal Shakespeare Company, was given an outstanding contribution accolade.

Edward won best touring production for Richard III and The Comedy of Errors.

The open-air production of The Passion by National Theatre Wales saw Sheen portraying Jesus and involved a cast of more than 1,000, including many volunteers from local theatre groups.

Sheen, known for playing public figures like Tony Blair, David Frost and Brian Clough, said he was inspired by the community spirit of the passion plays he watched at Margam Park as a youngster.

The gruelling performance culminated in him being crucified at a roundabout, but many of the scenes were played out on the streets and beaches of the town.

It is estimated the play attracted thousands of spectators and it met with widespread critical acclaim.

The Royal Shakespeare Company's Matilda The Musical also won two awards - for best musical production and best performance in a musical for Bertie Carvel.


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