Life and death drama in the age of COVID

Event Date: September 8, 2020

Image copyright Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Reproduced by permission. Extreme Unction. Poussin, Nicolas (French, 1594-1665).

The coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of us to come face to face with death in ways that we never imagined. Whether we’ve experienced personal losses, attended virtual funerals, or watched death tolls creeping up on the news, we are all confronting the pain of illness, death and grief and we’re having different kinds of conversation than we did before.

Researchers from the ‘A Good Death?’ project have teamed up with Menagerie Theatre Company to create three original audio plays to help us to think and talk about this new reality. Written and recorded during lockdown by Menagerie actors, Seven Arguments with Grief, End of Life Care – A Ghost Story and A Look, A Wave are short audio plays that provide glimpses into the thoughts and feelings of a bereaved mother and a hospital doctor, and reflect on the final farewell of the deathbed goodbye.

Written by Patrick Morris, Co-Artistic Director of Menagerie and inspired by the research of Dr Laura Davies into the history of writing about death, these plays deliberately don’t try to provide answers about how to handle what we’re all experiencing, in different ways, right now. Instead, they capture personal stories and aim to be authentic to how hard life, death and loss can be.

“There are so many books about the grieving process as if it’s some kind of logical process rather than something that’s actually faltering, that stalls, that destroys some people, but makes other people. I wanted to create a space for the real difficulties of grief.”

Patrick Morris, Co-Artistic Director of Menagerie Theatre and author of the new audio plays.

Menagerie is a new writing theatre company resident at Cambridge Junction.  They develop and produce new plays which engage powerfully, imaginatively and critically with the contemporary world.  They do this through the Hotbed Festival, community projects, and the Ideas Stage, an ongoing programme of collaborations with academic researchers that uses theatre to examine key ideas which influence our world.