Teacher says thank you with bread and fish fingers

27 April 2011

It’s Monday evening and the mood is relaxed as I arrive at the National Theatre Wales, WildWorks Michael Sheen Thank You Party at the Naval Social Club in Aberavon. Celebration at Naval Social Club

The disciples queue in the corridor for their last chance to be photographed with their Teacher.
I hear Michael Sheen call a few by name, give a kiss or a hug to others. His memory of and attention to each individual strikes me.
I guess his many years of acting have developed his memory, and his fondness for his hometown and its people have given him an incentive to be extra considerate.

People gather in the downstairs hall, catch up, order drinks from the bar. The room is dotted with placards and posters used during the performance, the colourful lights of the stage are on.
I recognise many faces – Oliver Davies, the boy who carried the red door, Gerald Tyler, chief of members of company, Marleane McGairl of The Fates – I have come across during the past four days.
I speak to a few people, most are still recovering from the emotionally and physically intense but wonderful experience of The Passion.

Adele Vye, originally from Port Talbot recalls the preparation for acting in The Raising episode.
“The first rehearsal was about eight months ago, it wasn’t a rehearsal of the scene but a performance workshop where we had to sing, make tribal sounds and movements.
“We did a lot of fun stuff, not acting as such but just being. After the first session they sorted people out in groups, and we then had to attend workshops about one day per week. The actual scenes were not rehearsed to perfection, I suppose WildWorks wanted it to flow more naturally on the day of the performance.”

A breath of fresh air at Thank You Party Michael Sheen comes on stage with Sue Hill of WildWorks to congratulate and offer their thank you to the thousand plus volunteers made up of choirs, actors, dancers, musicians, young and elderly, male and female.

Sue Hill states: “I know some people from WildWorks who couldn’t make it tonight and they’re gutted. They had to go home but from the heart of WildWorks they send their huge love to you.
“We just want to tell you how marvellous you are. We’ve worked with all kinds of communities all over the world and we’ve never met anyone like you. You rock!”

She added: “Bill Mitchell reminded me when we first came, and we first did the workshops, he said what we ask of you is that you are brave, because we are all going on a journey but we don’t know what the destination is. We’ve done lots of things that will help us do it but we’ve never done this before. I want you to know just how brave and marvellous and fantastic this community really is.

“I need to tell you you’ve given a huge gift to us. You’ve been absolutely inspirational. So thank you so much. We’re gonna be back. You can’t keep us away now. We’re looking forward to the world premiere of the film.”

As in the first miracle, “The Feeding of the 5,000”, when five loaves and two fish were used by Jesus to feed a multitude in the kitchen the oven is in full heat as white bread and two-fishfinger sandwiches are being distributed across the community hall.
On the second miracle “The Feeding of the 4,000” also known as the “miracle of the seven loaves and fishes” which appears in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, Jesus called his disciples to him and said: “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

Michael Sheen comes back on stage and announces: “Karen and Tyson have just let me know that they been trying to get a project going, a cabaret which is for anyone who’s been involved in The Passion who would like to continue to do some performance work, some local work in the area. So, sign up and carry on the good work, and good luck with it!”

Michael Sheen then leaves the club, passing cast members worried about whether he will return. He reassures them he will be back in an instant. Inside live music starts with the Fire Chief Five, a band that performed during The Procession. They dedicate one of their Passion songs to The Teacher of Port Talbot.

Sunset at Aberavon Naval Social ClubAs the temperature rises inside people go outside for a breath of fresh air. Michael Sheen comes back with Rachel McAdams, both are asked for more photographs.
As I leave, the sun falling behind the Aberavon dunes, Michael Sheen is still absorbed talking to a little girl in a wheelchair and her mother.

It began with dawn and it ends with dusk.

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raeh says:

Lovely stuff – I feel like I was there. And I love the last line, it began with dawn and it ends with dusk. A fitting end for a memorable weekend in PT.