BEFORE I LEAVE
THE COMPANY’S NEXT PRODUCTION IS WRITTEN BY PATRICK JONES AND DIRECTED BY OLIVIER-NOMINATED MATTHEW DUNSTER, AND WILL CELEBRATE THE GROWING NUMBER OF DEMENTIA CHOIRS IN WALES
National Theatre Wales’ next production, Before I Leave, will be a moving and uplifting production written by Patrick Jones and directed by Matthew Dunster (who directed the multi-award-winning Mametz for NTW in June 2014). It will feature covers of well-known songs by artists ranging from Tom Jones to the Sex Pistols, plus a new song by Nicky Wire and James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers, and will be performed at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff.
Before I Leave is inspired by Patrick’s work with the Cwm Taf choir in Merthyr, which is supported by the Alzheimer’s Society. Its members have shared much of their time and experiences with Patrick, helping him to write a play that is both a celebration of the restorative, co-operative joys of choir singing and a call to arms for a renewed sense of collective responsibility. Touching on the current, urgent calls for better mental health care as well as battles as far back as the miners’ strike, this angry but ultimately heartwarming production wears its politics on its sleeves, but marches to the beat of some of our best-loved songs.
In Merthyr, people who are losing themselves find each other in a choir for individuals living with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Joe is too young, this shouldn’t be happening to him; Dyanne battles to hold on to the man she married.
Evan and Rocky fight a 30-year-old fight – the miners’ strike may be long gone, but the scars remain as the memories jumble and fade.
Ex-librarian and mezzo-soprano Marge has lost her voice. Perhaps only the choir can help her get it back.
And Isabelle won’t let her spirit be locked away and forgotten in a care home that she thinks doesn’t care at all.
The company are recruiting a community choir of singers aged 65+ who will sing a repertoire of well-known songs ranging from Johnny Cash to Queen, in the production. The professional cast of 12 actors is to be announced.
Before I Leave is part of Festival of Voice – a new international arts festival in Cardiff this June. Created by Wales Millennium Centre and supported by Colwinston Charitable Trust, the Arts Council of Wales and Cardiff Council. For more information, go to: https://festivalofvoice.wales
I’ll Sing This Song
Alongside the production, National Theatre Wales TEAM* with the kind support of the Baring Foundation and four lead artists, are working with three choirs of singers with dementia across Wales, in a project called I’ll Sing This Song.
Before I Leave’s writer Patrick Jones has teamed up with filmmaker Kym Epton, photographer and designer Paul Thomas and musician Ben Tinniswood to teach existing dementia choirs in Wrexham, Barry and Brecon to sing I’ll Sing This Song (the new song written by Nicky Wire and James Dean Bradfield for the production).
The team will make a short film about the choirs’ experience, which it is hoped will become a useful digital resource for other choirs with dementia.
Patrick will continue to work with all three choirs after the production has closed, on songs of their choosing.
Patrick Jones said: “This play is a testament to the healing power of song. All of us can remember a song that meant so much to us at a certain point in life. First love, lost love, the best summer or the loneliest winter. We mark out our lives with music. In the fog and confusion of dementia, hearing a particular song can ignite a forgotten flame that, for a moment, lights the way towards a peaceful safe place where smiles are reborn.
“I have worked with and visited many choirs during the period of writing Before I Leave and never failed to shed a tear, see my own life reflected, burst into laughter or share a common humanity with its members. The other day, I asked members of the Wrexham choir what singing meant to them. One lady who had been silent throughout said, ‘Singing brings us to life’.”
Writer Patrick Jones’ plays include Everything Must Go, Unprotected Sex, Revelation andDeliver Us From Evil. His books include The Guerilla Tapestry, Fuse and Darkness is Where the Stars Are. His CDs include Commemoration and Amnesia and Tongues for a Stammering Time.Patrick toured with Billy Bragg in 2009 for his 25th anniversary tour of The Miner’s Strike, andwrote an updated version of Idris Davies’ The Bells of Rhymney for Radio 4/Radio Wales’ The Sad Bells of Rhymney. He has been poet in residence at Velindre Hospital in Cardiff and was recently involved in poetry projects at Greenhill Manor Nursing Home (Specialist Care for Dementia patients) and Talygarn Mental Health Unit as well as working in Swansea, Usk and Parc Prisons.Patrick has also worked alongside Hafan Cymru, The Alzheimer’s Society and St David’s Foundation Hospice Care.
Director Matthew Dunster has directed, written and acted for many theatres in the UK and internationally; for National Theatre Wales he directed Mametz in 2014. Recent work includes directing: Hangmen (Royal Court and West End) which has been nominated for three Olivier Awards, Liberian Girl (Royal Court), The Seagull, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Open Air Regent’s Park), Love’s Sacrifice (RSC), The Lightning Child and Doctor Faustus (Shakespeare’s Globe), The Love Girl & the Innocent, You Can Still Make a Killing (Southwark Playhouse), Before the Party (Almeida), A Sacred Flame (English Touring), Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Royal Exchange Manchester), Mogadishu (Royal Exchange, Manchester and Lyric Hammersmith), The Most Incredible Thing (Sadler’s Wells) and The Two Gentleman of Verona(Royal & Derngate, Northampton). As a writer, his credits include Children’s Children (Almeida)and You Can See the Hills (Royal Exchange Manchester).
Full listings information:
BEFORE I LEAVE
National Theatre Wales with Wales Millennium Centre
Writer: Patrick Jones
Director: Matthew Dunster
Designer: Anna Fleischle
Video Designer: Dick Straker
Musical Director: Dyfan Jones
Lighting Designer: Joe Fletcher
Sound Designer: Ian Dickinson for Autograph
Costume Designer: Angharad Matthews
Associate Musical Director: Greg Palmer
Cast: to be confirmed
Dates: 27th May-11th June, see performance schedule below
Venue: Sherman Theatre, Senghennydd Road, Cardiff CF24 4YE
|Friday 27th May
|Saturday 28th May
|Monday 30th May
|Tuesday 31st May
|Wednesday 1st June
|Thursday 2nd June^
|Friday 3rd June
|Saturday 4th June
|Monday 6th June
|Tuesday 7th June
|Wednesday 8th June^
|Thursday 9th June†
|Thursday 9th June
|Friday 10th June
|Saturday 11th June
|Saturday 11th June*
* Audio Described and captioned
^ Post-show Q&A
† Relaxed performance
Box Office: www.shermancymru.co.uk
By phone: 029 2064 6900
Previews (27th-30th May): £12-£20
Concessions: £2 off
Under 25s: Half price
Contains strong language