Young Roots partnership brings Richard Burton to life for a new generation

A Heritage Lottery fund project, involving partners Swansea University, NPTC Group of Colleges and Neath Port Talbot Libraries Service, has enabled young people to explore the life and times of international film star Richard Burton, who was born in Pontrhydyfen and brought up in Taibach, Port Talbot.

The Young Roots project began in September 2016 and has seen more than 60 young people researching and reflecting on Burton, his achievements and his colourful and sometimes troubled life.  The Young Roots project is well-placed to examine the life of Port Talbot’s most famous son, as although he experienced world-wide fame, Burton always returned to Pontrhydyfen, considering it his home. 

The young people have already authored a very well-received documentary film entitled, ‘Richard Burton – the Boy from Pontrhydyfen’, as well as creating a game for children on the theme of ‘journeys’, which was launched in June.

Young Roots are now at the final stage of the project, and planning an exciting event to coincide with Burton’s birthday week, to celebrate his life and achievements. ‘Ghosts, Dreams and Hopes’ will be a promenade performance in Port Talbot town centre, featuring digital dressing of buildings, lighting, drama, lanterns, music and poetry.

Eirwen Hopkins, the Project Director of Young Roots said: ‘The young people have taken this project very seriously. By looking at the life of someone who grew up very close to them, and who, although separated by time, shared many of their experiences and emotions, they have learnt about Richard Burton’s time, and have also discovered more about their own lives, hopes and abilities.”

Richard Bellamy, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, added: " This project, funded by National Lotter players, represents a unique opportunity to view a community's historic development through the eyes of a global icon. The artistic and skilful ways in which the young people have done just that is a fitting tribute both to the star himself and Port Talbot." 

Due to space limitations, ‘Ghosts, Dreams and Hopes’ will be performed to an invited audience only. The performance will take place on 9 November.  A limited number of tickets and more information are available from Eirwen Hopkins: e.hopkins@swansea.ac.uk.

Journalists are welcome to attend – please contact e.hopkins@swansea.ac.uk in the first instance.