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Work on transforming historic Plaza Cinema in Port Talbot ‘progressing well’

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The transformation of Port Talbot’s former Plaza Cinema – which inspired the town’s famous trio of Sir Anthony Hopkins, Richard Burton and Michael Sheen – is entering its final stages.

Construction firm BAM has been commissioned by Neath Port Talbot Council to transform the once dilapidated building into a community hub with a café, gym, office space, hall, multi-purpose rooms, a conference area, digital recording studio and shops.

A large part of the structural work in the project has now been carried out and it is hoped the project could be completed by the end of 2021.

The redevelopment preserves the much admired modernist, art-deco frontage of the Grade II listed Plaza Cinema building, giving it a striking, eye catching appearance.

Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainable Development, Cllr Annette Wingrave, said: “This is a very important project for Port Talbot as it serves as a reminder of Port Talbot’s unique ability as a relatively small town to produce some of the world’s best known actors with Sir Anthony Hopkins – after picking up his second Oscar earlier this year – now revered by some as ‘The World’s greatest living actor’.

“The new Plaza is also a continuation of the redevelopment of the eastern side of Port Talbot’s town centre which has seen a new transport hub established and the building of the flats and shops complex, Ty’r Orsaf, on the site of the former Port Talbot Police Station.

“The area forms one of the gateways into the developing Harbourside area of Port Talbot on the town’s former docklands which is an extremely important site for future inward investment in Neath Port Talbot.”

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Legendary actor Richard Burton, who was born in Pontrhydyfen and who later lived in Taibach, was a regular at the Plaza which opened in 1940 and one of his favourite Hollywood stars was Humphrey Bogart. The two later became friends.

Sir Anthony Hopkins, who grew up in Margam, was also a regular visitor to the Plaza which closed in 1999.

In 2017, Michael Sheen (from Baglan) who was also a regular Plaza-goer, produced a BBC Radio Four documentary on the cinema entitled Port Talbot Paradiso with contributions from the likes of actor, writer and panel show host Rob Brydon (who also hails from Baglan).

(All images: Neath Port Talbot Council)


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Port Talbot

Search begins for Port Talbot panto princess

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A South Wales theatre production company is looking for a member of the public in Neath Port Talbot to join its professional pantomime cast this year by playing a princess in Jack and the Beanstalk.

Newly formed MTAZ Productions Ltd is behind Jack and the Beanstalk which runs at The Princess Royal Theatre in Port Talbot from December 1st to 10th this year and the company is looking to the local community  to find its princess. 

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The lucky person will star alongside a professional cast of actors and will be chosen from an open audition being held on July 21st at the theatre. 

In order to audition you must be 18 years old or above and be available for all rehearsal and show dates. 

The show’s director, Anthony Argyle said: “We are incredibly excited to meet possible actors to play the princess. We have a great line up for this year’s panto and would love to cast a local actor in the role.”

Zoe Richards, Producer at MTAZ added: ‘It’s the first time we have produced the panto at Port Talbot and with Anthony being a local lad we want to make sure it’s a traditional panto experience created by professionals who grew up and have connections in the area.’

To find out how you register for an audition email themtfest@gmail.com 

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MTAZ Productions’ spellbinding Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime will be taking over The Princess Royal Theatre’s stage in December – with both family and ‘adult only’ performances. 

Audience members can expect plenty of laughs, incredible music, spectacular special effects, magic beans and bundles of audience participation in what is planned to be a “giant” of a pantomime!

Tickets are on sale now and already selling fast, to book call The Princess Royal Theatre’s Box Office phone line on 01639 763214 or book online at  www.princessroyaltheatre.com .

MTAZ Productions Ltd is a newly formed company co-owned by Anthony Argyle and Zoe Walters. Established to create experiences in storytelling in family and young people’s theatre. 

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Education

Port Talbot school’s shipping container shop lets people ‘pay what they can’ to combat cost of living crisis

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Port Talbot’s Central Primary School is the latest in Wales to open its own ‘pay as you can’ shop aimed at helping not only pupils but members of the surrounding community.

The Welsh Government funded Big Bocs Bwyd project in the Valleys Taskforce area helps children develop an early understanding of healthy food choices while providing affordable priced food to families in the local community who may be in need of support.

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The scheme originally started at Cadoxton and Oak Field primary schools in Barry and has now spread to a number of schools in Wales including Ynysfach Primary in Resolven.

The project operates from converted shipping containers based on the school grounds. Food is donated from local supermarkets and shops. Charities such as FareShare, which aims to reduce food poverty by re-distributing quality surplus food produced by the food industry, are also part of the scheme.

Central Primary School Head Teacher Samantha Hopkins said: “Our Big Bocs Bwyd is essentially a ‘pay as you can’ shop which is open to everyone in both our school and our wider community.

“Weekly re-stocks from a variety of charities not only help prevent food ending up in landfill, but our families also benefit from good quality food at a cost they can personally afford.

“Big Bocs Bwyd not only supports our families and wider community but it is also an integral part of our new curriculum. The opportunities it provides enable our children to be exposed to truly authentic learning experiences while enhancing their understanding of key concepts.

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“Time devoted to these rich, ‘hands on’ experiences enables them to dwell on the skills they are developing.”

The Big Bocs Bwyd was officially opened in bright sunshine at Central Primary School on Friday, June 10th by the school’s Chair of Governors, Suzanne Amos.

Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Training, Cllr Nia Jenkins said: “We welcome this enterprising scheme which is in line with a number of our key priorities particularly improving education for all and helping people locally with the cost of living crisis.

“I’d like to congratulate all those involved in setting up this latest Big Bocs Bwyd shop. It will be a real asset to the school and those living around it.”

(Lead image: NPT Council)

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Lifestyle

Water park to reopen after seagulls abandon nest

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A pair of nesting seagulls who held up the opening of the popular Aquasplash attraction on Aberavon Beach have abandoned the nest paving the way for the opening of the facility to the public.

The Herring Gulls established their nest on a large ‘tipping bucket’ feature in the water park and Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) it meant the nesting pair could not be disturbed until the nest was empty.

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Herring Gulls are protected under the act.

Council biodiversity officers who have been monitoring the nest found the birds missing from the site this week and on Friday (June 10th) the nest was cleared from the site.

A damaged egg which had rolled out of the nest was discovered supporting the theory that predation by other gulls may have been responsible for the abandonment of the nest by the parent birds.

Although the mother bird spends most of her time on the nest it must occasionally leave to feed herself and if the nest is in an exposed position it could be vulnerable.

A spokeswoman for the council’s Countryside and Wildlife team said: “Sadly, as the nest was in such an exposed location when she left the nest to get food it would have been in a position to be easily predated by other gulls.

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“Normally the nests would be in a corner of a roof or camouflaged amongst pebbles so as not to be visible. But as they chose to make the nest on a brightly coloured platform in the middle of the Aqua Splash – with no camouflage – it would be so easily have been spotted and grabbed by other gulls.

“It was noted there are a lot of other gulls in that area standing on adjacent roofs and lampposts who could easily spot the nest.

“We are sorry this has ended in this way but all was done as stipulated by law to ensure these gulls were left in peace while nesting but it appears the location of their nest was too exposed.”

Celtic Leisure, which runs Aquasplash for the council, has cleaned the bucket and checked it is operational. Celtic Leisure staff have also increased the concentration of chlorine to make sure it is thoroughly disinfected while it runs normally over the weekend.

After more water quality sampling is completed Aquasplash should open to the public in the near future.

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(Lead image: Neath Port Talbot Council)

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