Creative, Genuine, Funny And Slightly Surreal
We caught up with Antonia Beck and Lucy Nicholls, ahead of their production of The Death Show opening at The REP tonight.
What was the inspiration for The Death Show?
AB: 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.
LN: 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.
Why is theatre a great space for the discussion of ideas?
AB: The medium of performance has given us immense freedom to develop something that is creative, genuine, funny and slightly surreal.
LN: 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.”
AB: 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.
What made you interested in creating work like The Death Show?
LN: 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.
AB: 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 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.
What do you hope that the audience will take away from this performance?
LN: An entertaining show, with lots of laughter.
AB: I hope audiences connect to something in the show. It is thought-provoking and I hope it sparks better conversations about death and dying.
LN: We're keen to get more people talking about death.
AB: 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 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.