A new documentary looks to tell the tale of Taibach Rugby Club’s legendary pantomime and how it has helped bring the community together in the wake of the uncertainty surrounding Port Talbot’s great steelworks.
In the shadow of the works lies Taibach Rugby Club, a club famous throughout South Wales and beyond for its annual Christmas pantomime.
Entitled Balls of Steel, the programme follows the members of the club throughout the year as they prepare for their next panto.
Each year the men of the club perform their own version of one of the classic stories with each one getting a special Taibach twist. It’s a tradition that has been going on for half a century and with the town and steelworks facing another tough year, their 50th anniversary production of ‘Cinderella’s Golden Ball’ takes on a special significance.
Over the decades, the panto has become a part of the fabric of Taibach and it’s a chance for the community to forget their worries and come together in celebration.
Narrated by Michael Sheen, Balls of Steel documents the heart-warming stories of the club’s quirky cast, who are all in some way linked to the works. As they struggle to learn their lines and deal with the uncertainty surrounding the works, Balls of Steel celebrates their spirit and takes us behind the scenes of a show like no other.
Sam Coombes – third generation steel worker who has been involved with the pantomime for 12 years. His real passion is acting and last year he starred in The National Theatre of Wales’ production ‘We’re Still Here’ as a steelworker who lost his job at the works.
Sam says: “Taibach RFC pantomime, to me, is working class art at its finest. I have enjoyed every second of the 12 years I have been involved. From stage hand to director, everyone pulls in the same direction which I think is a testament to the unity that’s nurtured at Taibach RFC. Being a steelworker from Port Talbot, having a community like Taibach RFC and the panto is central to my family’s lives. It’s like an extended family which is a statement that I believe rings true amongst everyone involved. Over the 12 years I have been involved, I’ve come to realise that it isn’t just about a pint and a laugh with the boys, it is much more. It’s the months of commitment and rehearsal from a team of talented, whole hearted individuals, with a goal to provide a little release from the everyday. Seeing the faces, hearing the laughs and reaping the positive feedback from anyone who comes to watch us is art in itself! I couldn’t imagine a life without Taibach RFC panto! I wouldn’t want to!”
Colin Deere – Writer, Producer, Actor of the panto says: “The Taibach Rugby Club is the hub of the village of Taibach and the annual Christmas panto is an integral part of the Club itself. Many people, both from Taibach, the wider Port Talbot community and indeed beyond, are of the opinion that once they have seen the Taibach panto their Christmas festivities have started. To film over the last 18 months or so has been an absolute pleasure and a life experience none of us will ever forget and we look forward to seeing Balls of Steel in its final form.”
Barrie Williams – Taibach Rugby Club Chairman says: “The panto is a unique part of the history of Taibach Rugby Club. The cast and crew roles have been passed on from generation to generation and that's why we call them the panto family. From rehearsals starting in September to the show in December they show 100% commitment to provide a spectacle of fun and laughter which over the last 50 years has entertained thousands.”
Balls of Steel airs May 21 on BBC One Wales at 9pm.