Artists in Residence

There are not many funeral directors that can claim to have an artistic arm to their business. At A Natural Undertaking however we like to approach life differently, and we’re very excited to announce that for this year we will have two brilliant creative minds, Lucy and Antonia, working with us as our ‘Artists in Residence’

Anyone who knows us will be aware that we’re keen to help people explore conversations about death and dying. Experience tells us that talking about death, and knowing our choices when we are well, or before we have to arrange someone’s funeral, can really help.

We also firmly believe that, as it’s a natural part of life, people should feel more comfortable having conversations about death and dying. Art and dramatic performance can often provide us with a reason for having these conversations which is why Lucy and Antonia came to us to propose that we provide them with a residency.

Antonia Beck

About Antonia and Lucy

Antonia Beck and Lucy Nicholls are independent theatre makers and creative producers with a playful, dynamic approach to making innovative, contemporary work. Having collaborated for 5 years, their shared portfolio includes performance-based commissions for the Birmingham Hippodrome, one-to-one performances in pop-up tents with mac Birmingham, and other interactive works and events in town squares, pubs and warehouses.

Lucy NichollsBrought together initially by a shared fear of death, Lucy and Antonia are now embarking on a performance project called ‘The Death Show’.

Delivering such a project will require them to be immersed in the world of death and funerals, which of course, is where we come in.

During the research period of their project they’ll be resident artists with us here at A Natural Undertaking, they will be participating in a celebrant training course,  delivering a creative workshop programme with patients at a Walsall Palliative Care Centre, and creating a new scratch performance to be shared at the mac, Birmingham in Spring 2017.

The aim of the project

‘The Death Show’ will fundamentally be an exploration of society’s relationship with death. Death (as we all know) is an inevitable fact of life, and one of the few experiences that unites all people, cultures and societies. It’s something we are confronted with everyday, so why is it still considered such a taboo?

Despite the stereotypes, Lucy and Antonia don’t believe that death should be seen as morbid, macabre, melancholic and most importantly unmentionable.

The pair will be considering this and taking some time out to discuss death and their fleeting mortality. whilst exploring how we can all have ‘better conversations’ about death and dying.

Perhaps it’s time we reinvented death? So let’s start by discussing the d-word…

What the Residency involves

For our part we will be inducting Lucy and Antonia into the world of funerals, peeling back the curtain and giving them the opportunity to see behind the scenes. They will be able to shadow us as we go about our days, joining us as we meet with families and visit mortuaries. They will get the chance to do things like tracing the coffin as it makes its way through the crematorium until the final moment where the person’s ashes are placed into the appropriate container.

After that, it’s upto them. We’re really excited to see how they take these inputs and turn them into a piece of performance art. From our conversations we’re pretty sure it’s going to be an honest and open appraisal of what happens when we die and we’re proud to be a part of their journey.

Follow their story

If you’d like to see how they get on you can join in the conversation and follow their story on Twitter: @The_Death_Show

Lucy and Antonia’s project is supported by mac Birmingham, A Natural Undertaking, Brum YODO, Fair Oaks Day Hospice (Walsall Palliative Care Centre) and Arts Council England.


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