Return to home page

Dead Good

We speak to Rachel Savage and Aron De Casmaker from Vamos Theatre about their upcoming show Dead Good.

Hi Rachel, What was the starting point for this show?

The main reason we are telling this story is to ask the question of how the dying teach us to live and how do we live fully? ‘I never thought I’d do a show about death because I’m terrified by it but it’s been really good for me to tackle this subject because I’ll talk about it now. And in all of the research, I’ve laughed more than I’ve cried.

How did you approach putting the show together?

At Mary Stevens Hospice in Stourbridge, I met Dave, a patient living with prostate cancer. He told me about how being terminally ill had changed him, changed his relationships and changed his capacity to love. He’s just like a bottomless pit now in terms of his capacity to love. Then I went to St Richard’s Hospice in Worcester which has a Men’s Space Group and the men who attend it have the kind of friendships that you make when there’s nobody else who can really understand what you are going through. There I met two chaps called Nick and Pete and they are phenomenally good friends and that friendship is based on care and compassion for each other but also humour. They giggle and laugh and rib each other and take the mick all the time. We’ve invited Pete and Nick into the rehearsal room and their double act has informed the friendship and the humour of the whole piece, I’ve shared every script and rehearsal video with Nick and he’s fed back on them. The way in which we usually see death portrayed, whether on television or Hollywood, is often dramatised and what I’ve really tried to do is to tell it as accurately as possible. We want to demystify death and take the fear out of it. We’re a death-denying society and the show is trying to change that.

How does Dead Good differ to your previous work?

I think people expect to go away from one of our shows having laughed and cried and with something to think about, I give people a voice who often don’t have one so our shows have to be about things that I am passionate about and that I want to make people think differently about.

Tell us about using masks to perform with, how does the process work?

Full mask theatre draws people in. The actors have detailed scripts, objectives, the same things as other actors, but when there’s the full mask on top there is a real clarity of thought. We pull the audience in to us so that we are connecting with them intellectually because they’re working out what is going on and through that we also have a really close connection down to their heart where we can make them feel. What I hope is that the feeling then bounces back to the brain so we can make them think. ‘My belief is that Dead Good is an important story to tell. I hope audiences will take away that life is precious and that their family and friends are precious. Love and laughter are wonderful things and, without making it into a cliché, to get out there and live life and learn what is important.

Aaron, please can you tell us more about the character of Bob.

Bob is one of the two men who go on this great adventure soon after they both find out they are terminally ill,’ explains Aron. ‘Bob is somebody who has had a very simple and joyful trip through life until more recently when he has been diagnosed with cancer of the prostate. That really put him into a position of questioning his existence so he moved from being with his wife and being a retired auto-mechanic to deciding he’s going to die and he will do it alone. He left his wife to seek solitude and then he meets this other man Bernard who doesn’t let him have that solitude and forces him to find joy in these fleeting moments. The idea of finding the lightness in dark material really attracts me to the theatre and in this show we are hitting a very realistic view of death head on and then finding the joy and the lightness that comes from that. We want the audience to come out with an extreme sense of elation and joy which will resonate far beyond the walls of the theatre.

Syndicated interview by Diane Parks

Dead Good is at the Corn Exchange Newbury on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 March at 7.45pm. Find out more

Related articles

Previous slides
Next slides