Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Leave To Remain

When we first created "Leave To Remain" we couldn't understand at first exactly what it was we had made.

We just. Did it as best we could and tried to listen to everyone's responses.

After attending the Dead Good Guides course on creating rituals http://www.deadgoodguides.com/pages/programme.html
I think I understand a bit better.

Well enough to be able to write this press release, anyway:

"Our culture is pretty bad at dealing with death.
Maybe because the dead are pretty bad at shopping.
Or maybe because in general we're not a very emotionally literate kind of society, and we tend to equate 'bravery' with dealing well with grief.
And by 'bravery' we mean not crying. Keeping a stiff upper lip. Carrying on as normal.
Hoping that if we don't acknowledge or express our grief it will somehow go away.
But it doesn't, of course. And because we've all lost someone in our lives, and not really been able to deal with the pain that it's caused us, it's as if we're all carrying around a big bag of grief. Which means we're not really able to help each other either.
I got a bit tired of people crossing over the road to avoid me after my partner died. Or me telling them I was "fine, thank you" because I didn't want to bother them. Or embarrass the both of us by bursting into tears.
Because her mum died at about the same time, my dear old friend Suzanne Dance felt the same. And because we both work in theatre and couldn't find anything there to help us either, we thought we'd try to do something about it.
We worked together and cried together to produce LEAVE TO REMAIN, which we very tentatively first performed in 2007, and have been performing on and off ever since.
We've always found it hard to describe it, because although we first performed it in a theatre it's not a play; and though it is in its way very dramatic what it really is is a ritual.
A ritual composed of all kinds of elements. We tell our bereavement stories to break the taboo that surrounds this, and encourage those present to give shape to their stories too.
We use silence and simple rituals; we perform poems by poets who have inspired us, and pieces of writing by those who have guided us. We have beautiful music that helps us listen to our hearts; and it all happens in an atmosphere that contains and comforts us.
And afterwards, those who want to can stay behind to talk about what's just happened.
Most people do.
The music comes from Harriet Davidson on the cello. It all adds up to a very special experience, especially because we're performing in the very beautiful space of St. John's Lady Chapel. We hope you'll be able to join us."

Jo Clifford, Suzanne Dance and Harriet Davidson (cello) present LEAVE TO REMAIN as part of the Festival of Spirituality and Peace in St John's church, West End, Edinburgh on August 13th and 14th at 2.00 & on August 20th at 4.00. For tickets phone 0131 473 2000 or go to www.festivalofspiritualityandpeace.org.uk


Joyce Macmillan in THE SCOTSMAN:  "there’s something intensely moving and comforting about this brief and beautiful experience.... And for those thousands of grieving people in our society who have always felt that one brief afternoon’s funeral is too short a goodbye, it opens up the possibility of something richer, and of a slow reinvention of the vital mourning rituals we have lost."

Neil Cooper in THE HERALD: "there’s no denying the emotional power of this piece. There can’t be many church services where those gathered are visibly moved to tears by a life and death experience that touches us all."

"This is the first time I've been able to cry for my mother. I feel so relieved to be able to."
"this is something so necessary and important"
"Open, generous, warm-hearted and emotional"
"Such a relief to be in the same room with people who have been through the same thing. And be able to talk about it afterwards"
“I just want to say thank you. Thank you for the most beautiful,  
spiritual and touching experience I ever experienced in a play.
I cannot find words to express the beauty and sense of transcendence  
you conveyed in the play tonight. It felt as a gift.”

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