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Michael Sheen to play founder of NHS in new production by WMC and National Theatre

A major new play charting the life of one of Wales’s most influential political and social figures will be co-produced by the National Theatre and Wales Millennium Centre, coming to the Cardiff venue next year.

Nye charts the life and legacy of Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan, a former coal miner from Tredegar who transformed the UK’s welfare state. Written by Welsh playwright and screenwriter Tim Price(Teh Internet is Serious Business) and directed by the National Theatre’s Artistic Director Rufus Norris (Cabaret – West End, London Road, Small Island), Nye will play at Wales Millennium Centre for two weeks on 18 May – 1 June 2024.

Michael Sheen (The Queen, The Damned United, Masters of Sex, Under Milk Wood) has been cast in the title role of Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan.  He will be joined by Welsh actors Remy Beasley, Roger Evans, Kezrena James, Rebecca Killick and Rhodri Meilir, alongside Jon Furlong, Stephanie Jacob, Tony Jayawardena and Sharon Small, with further casting to be announced.

From campaigning at the coalfield to leading the battle to create the NHS, Nye Bevan is often referred to as the politician who’s had the greatest influence on the UK without ever being Prime Minister. Confronted with death, Nye’s deepest memories lead him on a mind-bending journey back through his life; from childhood to mining underground, Parliament and fights with Churchill in an epic Welsh fantasia.

Tickets for Nye will be on public sale from Friday 27 October 2023, with Wales Millennium Centre members able to skip the queues to secure their tickets days before public release. Find out more about Ffrind membership here.

The team behind this production includes Welsh artists Jess Williams (Co-Choreographer), Will Stuart (Composer) and Francesca Goodridge (Associate Director).

The creative team is completed by Set Designer Vicki Mortimer, Costume Designer Kinnetia Isidore, Lighting Designer Paule Constable, Co-Choreographer Steven Hoggett, Sound Designer Donato Wharton, Projection Designer Jon Driscoll and Casting Director Alastair Coomer CDG.

Graeme Farrow, Wales Millennium Centre’s Artistic Director, said:
“We’re thrilled to be working with the National Theatre again, bringing the story of this Welsh radical reformer to audiences a mere stone’s throw from the Valleys communities which shaped Nye Bevan and his vision.

“In this new play by Tim Price we welcome Michael Sheen to perform on home soil once again. A Welsh icon of social change, played by a Welsh icon of stage and screen, under our iconic Welsh roof – this will be an epic experience with deep resonance for audiences next year.”

Rufus Norris, National Theatre’s Artistic Director, said: “I am excited to announce today that Tim Price’s brilliant new play Nye, which I will be directing in the Olivier in February, will be a co-production with Wales Millennium Centre where it will transfer following its run with us.

“To bring the story to Nye Bevan’s home in Wales feels very special and an appropriate way to further honour his legacy through this production.”

This first co-production between the National Theatre and Wales Millennium Centre continues a growing relationship between the two national companies,  following the transfer of The Boy with Two Hearts from Cardiff to the National’s Dorfman Theatre in 2022, as well as the ever-increasing touring presentations of National Theatre productions including the multi-award-winning War Horse, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and most recently The Ocean at the End of the Lane.