ABBEYLEIX native and inventive theatre-maker Louise White will return to her home county this month, as she presents an unexpectedly funny play about death that allows the audience to plan their own funeral.
The award-winning dramatist is looking forward to bringing This is the funeral of your life to her own community in Laois, following a sell-out run at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin.
As a response to the death of her beloved dad Reggie about five years ago, Louise developed an unusual and surprisingly uplifting drama that focuses on funerals and the sense of ceremony and ritual they provide.
She says: “We are really good at grief and mourning and rituals, but we’re not so good at talking about ourselves. So when it comes to thinking of your own death or even starting to talk about it, we run a mile. That’s what we are interested in with this show.”
Billed as a poignant and heart-warming drama about death and the challenges of living, the play will be staged at the Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise for one night only at 8pm on Friday 22 February, before continuing a national tour.
Following her appointment as Laois Youth Theatre co-ordinator last year, Louise is enjoying promoting and supporting young local talent while continuing to work on her own theatre projects, which sometimes have a local flavour. Her production of Mother you at the Dublin Film Festival in 2015 focused on the Abbeyleix Bog Project and the strength of communities, with a memorable photo-shoot of local people on the bog that was used as a poster for the show.
Although based mainly in Dublin, Louise remains very connected to Laois and particularly to Abbeyleix, where her mother, Mary White, is a tireless volunteer with Tidy Towns and countless other community projects.
Louise won the Spirit of the Fringe award at the Dublin Film Festival for her 2013 drama Way back home and has been presenting what she describes as “innovative audience experiences” for the past decade. She works not only in theatres but also at unusual offsite venues that have included black boxes, abandoned commercial units, psychiatric institutions and a decrepit Georgian mansion.
The Abbeyleix woman has also developed projects with dancers, culinary artists, composers, visual artists, opera singers and children, as she aims to cultivate thought-provoking experiences and leave audiences with difficult questions about accountability and the fragility of the human condition.
A project artist with Dublin’s Project Arts Centre, Louise trained at the Samuel Beckett Centre in Trinity College Dublin, the Oxford School of Drama and the National College of Art and Design. She is also a registered teacher with the Teaching Council of Ireland and a facilitator with Mountrath Youth Theatre.
Louise is currently developing a new work titled Privilege, the musical!, which she describes as “a searing and compassionate analysis of Ireland through story and song”, as it explores the tensions that arise when telling the story of modern day Ireland. The show will premiere in late 2019.
Meanwhile, tickets for This is the funeral of your life are available from the Dunamaise Arts Centre at €16/€14.