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National Theatre Wales

Before I Leave

Objects, of all shapes and sizes, can be the strongest links to our past. They form a tactile and tangible emotional connection, holding moments caught in time, keeping safe a story far greater than it may appear.

In celebration of this power, and taking arms against memory loss, the pupils of Bryn Hafren School and members of Tyˆ Hapus choir came together to share their most precious objects and the treasured tales held within. This exhibition commemorates those stories and the cherished memories of those that were part of this inter-generational exchange, exploring the relationship between our possessions and the life-line they can represent. 

Hands young and old, resisting the urge to grasp cups of tea, slices of cake or even their smart phones and e-cigarettes, held out their most precious objects…


From a cuddly bear that once smelt of chocolate, to an award well won; energetic exploits enjoyed and mischief that continues to be made. Photographs of a performance paused for posterity; a star on the stage, singing still, beaming with the memories of music, love and laughter. A pregnant teen cradles a precious book, the contents of which has been written by her Grandfather, whose ability to write has since been lost. A father’s medals that tell of how war-time bravery became pastime pursuit and pleasure; both now a great source of pride. A framed keepsake of kindness, a needlework note of an eventful life; a gift from a much-loved sister now lost. From a beloved nephew’s baby-grow, cradled with love and care, to bejewelled memories, worn with pride; a ring worth more than its weight in gold, a resolutely rebellious cross and its chain. From mementos of magical places, family holidays and Disney dreams come true, to a soft-toy pup whose patches and tears grew along with his owner; a hand-hold hole in his ear that stretched larger to accommodate the hand that continues to fit through. A one and only wedding ring, cracked; finger-tip hold on a most precious memory. A souvenir still being paid for, fifty-five years later. With these objects held close, time stands still; dreams remain. 

Thank you for sharing.

Poetry Workshop

The following poems were created during a poetry workshop with Before I Leave writer, Patrick Jones, and featured in the I'll Sing This Song Exhibition at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff:

"Words are prisoners;
banging on their cell doors,
fighting to get out.

Words are fire;
spreading with ferocity until someone finds the water.

Words are flowers;
they take their time to bloom,
but when they do they're beautiful."

Katelan Rowlands

 

They are hurricanes,
threatening danger with every sound,
they can tear you apart.

They are stars,
thousands of miles away
never quite seeming reachable.

They are fires,
scorching and burning
ready to spit should you get too close.

They are graveyards,
holding forgotten memories
and buried dreams.

They are maps,
trace the lines with your hands
and find a new world.

They are mirrors
holding every inch of you,
both the parts you like and those you can hardly seem to face.

They are shadows,
the darkened silhouettes of you
on a cold December night.

But above all,

they are an escape;
a place to go when your mind is too full
and too empty all at once.

Charlotte Rose