How could such dramatic, natural scenes not nuture generations of exceptional theatrical talent? Standards are high in the Dramatic Heart of Wales and the area has produced world renowned artists, writers and stars of the stage and screen.
Our most famous son is without doubt Richard Burton. The most gifted performer of his generation and the highest-paid actor in Hollywood at the time, he was born in Pontrhydyfen to a family of coalminers and grew up in Taibach. Richard Burton found inspiration in our contrasting rural and industrial landscapes, it is said that he would stand on the hillside overlooking the Steelworks practicing his drills.
Rob Brydon and Michael Sheen, are both famous actors who hail from the village of Baglan. Brydon, known mainly for his comedy, but also for his writing, presenting, voice-over artistry regularly mentions his upbringing in his comedy routines. Sheen, an acclaimed actor, has featured in many Hollywood films and carries the pride of his hometown with him throughout his career.
Bonnie Tyler, a singer whose songs are known across the world is a proud Neath-born girl. Bonnie has never forgotten her roots, and is often seen in and around the Dramatic Heart of Wales, taking in the natural beauty. Her voice was cultivated here, performing in pubs and clubs, which continue to nurture fresh talent today.
Opera singer Katherine Jenkins and Oscar winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins are other world-famous stars to have come from the burning furnace of talent that is the Dramatic Heart of Wales.
People often wonder how the Dramatic Heart of Wales produces such talent with such a small population. But to us, the answer is clear. It is a combination of tight-knit, loving communities, the passion instilled in our people from past generations and finally, the breath-taking natural beauty that surrounds and inspires from birth.
The Dramatic Heart of Wales is built upon generations of hard-working coalminers and steelworkers. The work ethic and determination has been passed on from generation to generation and aspiring artists fight to be heard, and have in-built resilience. Our artists can prosper here, with space to perform and create in the Gwyn Hall, Princess Royal Theatre, Pontardawe Arts Centre. There is also an abundance of community run theatre, choir and performance groups on hand to nurture our young talent, so watch this space for our rising stars!
Not only has the Dramatic Heart of Wales produced talented actors and singers, but it has proven to be a popular backdrop for a whole host of productions. With the diversity here, from heavy industry to waterfalls and rolling hills, to long sandy beaches, the Dramatic Heart of Wales has inspired many film and TV crews from all over the world, including productions for Doctor Who, Davinci’s Demons, Merlin, His Dark Materials and Twin Town to name a few.
It’s hard not to be filled with such passion when surrounded by beautiful, dramatic scenes. Allow your imagination to run wild in our rolling hills, let our waterfalls to inspire your creativity and our Welsh air to carry your song just like generations of our communities have done and continue to do so.