Unique and uplifting show puts death centre stage

Loiuise White, whose show, This is the Funeral of Your Life will be at the Town Hall Theatre on Tuesday, Febrruary 5.
Loiuise White, whose show, This is the Funeral of Your Life will be at the Town Hall Theatre on Tuesday, Febrruary 5.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

Louise White’s father died five years ago when he was in his 80s. His demise, understandably, had a profound impact on his family, including his daughter Louise, who works in the performing arts.  She has since explored his death – and death generally – in This is The Funeral of Your Life, a thought-provoking exploration about the challenges of living and dying.

This fusion of drama, music and dance had its premiere in Dublin in 2017, when The Irish Times praised it as “an unexpectedly funny and uplifting play about your own death”.

It’s now been revived for a nationwide tour which will kick off in Galway’s Town Hall Theatre on Tuesday, February 5.

The show features dancer Philip Connaughton, actress Lucy Miller and mezzo-soprano Michelle O’Rourke as “it facilitates your funeral in real time”.

The three create an environment that allows people in the audience to examine what their personal legacies might be. It also muses on the fragility of life as well as the importance of family, love and humour in the face of death.

The lead-up to Louise’s father’s death in February 2014, was difficult but was also a privilege, she says, because all his family were there at the end.

What took Louise by surprise was his funeral in their home town of Abbeyleix, County Laois, and her own response to the enormous community support.

“It’s so painful to lose your father but the celebratory aspect of it really surprised me.”

Reggie White had led a rich life; he’d been on many committees and had been involved in sporting groups, all of which was celebrated at his funeral, she recalls.  Much of this came as a surprise to Louise.

Her father had become increasingly unwell in the years before his death at the age of 84, so his life had become increasingly restricted.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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