As the sun rose over the mountain, a group of actors stood motionless in the incoming tide, while Michael Sheen, in character as the teacher, the Jesus figure in this reworked version of the story, walked down the beach amid crowds of onlookers.
What followed was a dramatic and emotional scene, which saw Michael Sheen strip off his coat, hoodie, shoes and socks, and enter the sea, where he was held under the freezing waves by a priestly figure and then carried up the beach to a bonfire in the dunes. The action was accompanied by a soloist, repetitively singing the line ‘he is come’.
This morning’s action was not advertised in the programme and there were no tickets. Most of the crowd had found out through word of mouth.
Unlike in most theatrical productions, the audience found themselves sharing the discomfort of the actors as the tide rose over their shoes.
But the overwhelming mood was one of excitement.
“I really wanted to see it from the beginning,” said Heather Hillan, 46, of Mariner’s Point. “I think it’s fantastic, it was very moving.”
The early start was no deterrent to many, with some even coming straight from night shifts.
Aberavon resident Julian Casley, 24, had spent the night working a shift as a taxi driver, while John Griffiths, 50, of Baglan, had been working at Tata Steel.
“I’ve been working all night,” he said, “But I really wanted to see this. It was very dramatic, and well worth coming.”
With him was a group from Baglan, including Sue Aggad who had flown from her home in Saudi Arabia to be at the event.
“I’m originally from Baglan, but I really wanted to be here to see this. It’s definitely something positive for Port Talbot and for the community, bringing everyone together. What I love about it is that anyone could have been involved, and anyone can come and see it, you don’t have to spend any money.”
Martin Griffiths, 58, also from Baglan, said the group had tickets for the whole event.
“We’ve been looking forward to this for months. This morning was really powerful, highly emotional. I hope it’ll do a lot for Port Talbot, and I think it will in the short term. It’s brought a really positive note to the community. I can’t wait to see the rest of it now.”