Puppets, tea and mortality
Karin Jashapara (pictured) is the founder of the Play of Light theatre company, which uses shadow puppets to prompt dialogue about dying and death. Ahead of two performances of her play 'Death in a Nut' during Dying Matters Awareness Week (18-24 May 2015), Karin talks about her latest venture: a vintage tea party after the show to encourage conversations about death.
What am I doing combing the charity shops for tea party materials, poring over Willow patterned Spode china and wondering whether seersucker or linen would make a better tablecloth? Isn’t my job a designer and theatre maker? And isn’t life too short for caring about such trivia, even if it is fun?
Well, that is rather the point. Life is short, and yet we never talk about the end of it. It's ok to talk about the birth of your babies – the home birth, the water birth, the C-section – we’re all happy with the concept of something new arriving and with the fresh beginnings of life. But the end of life raises different feelings, many of them sad, and it's typically not something we discuss. Feelings are not expressed and, in many ways, that is fine, as grieving can be an inward, deeply private process. But it also means that common experiences, expertise and resourcefulness never get shared, so the professionals do it all for us and we get more and more resistant to acknowledging the ending of our lives - and the lives of our loved ones.
I’ve come to see that far from being morbid, the contemplation of death actually makes me feel more alive.
We have always offered an art activity following our show, ‘Death in a Nut’. Children in particular, after seeing the show, would use the bright colours and card costumes we provided to express a wide range of thoughts about death and dying. But we also noted that the show was a great conversation starter, and realised that it would be brilliant if paired with something like a vintage tea party. Everyone liked the idea, so I started gathering 50 gloriously mis-matched, pretty, vintage-y cups and saucers, plates and vases, which will be used in Norwich for the first time this May. There we have the great pleasure of working with the local Death Café – seasoned providers of tea and cake.
The importance of eating something when exploring the end of eating… the comfort of a cuppa… We are very excited about this development, which has turned a straightforward visit to the theatre into an original community event, and we're very interested to see how the audiences respond. Do join us if you can.
Time, date and location
Performances on Thursday 20th May at 11.00 am and 3.30 pm at The Curve, The Forum, Millennium Plain, Norwich, NR2 1TF
Suitable for family audiences from the age of 7.
To book tickets, please contact Sarah Pitts : firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. 01502 719541