Guest Blog Post: Lucy and Antonia discuss their creative intentions behind The Death Show

In this blog post, Antonia and Lucy reflect on their  experience of creating, performing & producing The Death Show. As well as what they both hope the audience will experience after seeing the show. 

You can catch the show here on  30th Jan – 1st Feb. Click here to find out more. 

Answers from Antonia: 

What was the inspiration for this performance? 

The inspiration initially came from our own death anxiety, and we wanted to try and better understand why we both have this fear of death.  

 When we first started our research for this production, it felt like we knew very little about the ‘death industry’ and what happens (both physically and practically) when you die. We felt limited by our lack of knowledge and just wanted to know more.  

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?  

Absolutely! The medium of performance has given us immense freedom to develop something that is creative, genuine, funny and slightly surreal. The Death Show is about our experiences, but it also looks at the broader world of death and our relationships with death in today’s society. We want audiences to be part of the conversations.   

How did you become interested in making performance? 

I started making performances from a very young age and have lots of memories of creating shows at home with my sister in the living room and performing them in front of my parents. It was then at university (I did a BA at Bretton Hall / University of Leeds) that I was introduced to the world of contemporary performance. It resonated with me straight away, and made me realise that was the kind of work I wanted to make.  

Performance and art has also been something that I’ve connected with and felt deeply passionate about it. It felt inevitable that this was going to be my career path, and I feel very fortunate and proud to work professionally as a performance artist. 

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show? 

The Death Show is a devised, contemporary performance inspired by and based on our research and personal experiences of death and dying. Both Lucy and I come from a contemporary theatre background, and we spent about 5 months researching and immersing ourselves in the world of death. We experienced a huge amount during that time and it ranged from spending time with patients in a hospice, to preparing a body for a funeral and watching a body being cremated. We could have easily made 2 or 3 shows with all the material we gathered.  

Does the show fit with your usual productions? 

Yes, my work is often research-based, and I make performances or performance-based work about things that I am genuinely interested in or passionate about. I also like to interact and connect with an audience. It re-enforces the magic and importance of live, shared experiences.  

What do you hope that the audience will experience? 

I hope that audiences feel they can connect or relate to something in the show. That it is thought-provoking and sparks better conversations about death and dying.  

Throughout the making of this show we have had lots of people tell us how morbid we were to make a show about death. They didn’t understand why we would want to do something like that, and really this just re-enforced how important it is for us to have better conversations about death and how art can contribute to the ‘Good Death’ movement. I hope that ultimately audiences will laugh, be entertained and feel inspired to take a moment to think about death and what they might want when that time comes. 

Answers from Lucy: 

What was the inspiration for this performance? 

Death! The premise of the show came directly from a conversation we had about our fear of death when we first met in 2012 and the topic has followed us ever since. We revisited the subject so many times that making a show about it started to feel inevitable. It’s the culmination of hours and hours of conversation and research. 

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?  

Live performance creates shared experience and a curated space for people to commune and converse. These opportunities feel increasingly limited and increasingly more important. We all need time together, physically in the same space, to explore the human condition and see our experiences reflected. This is what live performance does so well and it’s fundamental to our understanding of ourselves, and society. George Bernard Shaw said, “You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.” 

How did you become interested in making performance? 

We both had a crippling fear of death. Making the show felt like a practical and productive way of exploring where these fears came from and detoxifying them. To name the thing is to take away its power. Naming and acknowledging our fear and holding it up to the light, helped us see it better and it became less scary.  

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show? 

The show is autobiographical, at least in part. It is inspired by real experiences that we had on our journey to making the show. We attended training on ritual and celebration, we were artists in residence at an undertakers, and spent time in a palliative care unit with patients. The show is based on real events and conversations, which have been reframed and reimagined – plus a small dose of pop culture. 

Does the show fit with your usual productions? 

This is the first full theatre show we have made to together. Most of my work has been with community groups or with students so every show has responded directly to the specific needs of the group involved and whatever they have brought to the process, making every piece completely different to the last.  

What do you hope that the audience will experience? 

An entertaining show, with lots of laughter and hopefully some of their own experiences reflected back at them. It would be great if it was followed by some conversations around the ‘d-word’ afterwards. We’re keen to get more people talking about death.