Death: Southbank Centre’s Festival for the Living


For four days in late January next year, London’s Southbank Centre will host a ‘death festival’, featuring a series of free and ticketed talks, concerts, performances and installations. ‘Death: Southbank Centre’s Festival for the Living’ is an attempt to air different approaches and attitudes to death. It will be assisted by an array of philosophers, artists, scientists, undertakers, medical practitioners, psychiatrists, theologians, anthropologists and broadcasters.

A few highlights of ‘Death: Southbank Centre’s Festival for the Living’ include:

1. BBC Concert Orchestra’s Music to Die For with performances of works by Mahler, Tavener and Barber
2. The Sandi Toksvig Memorial Lecture – delivered by Sandi Toksvig
3. Jon Snow chairs panel discussion about assisted dying with guests including Baroness Kennedy QC
4. Petra Jean Phillipson performs songs from her spectral new album Notes on Death
5. An Instinct for Kindness – Chris Larner’s powerful play about his wife’s journey to Dignitas
6. Goodbye Mr. Muffin – a heart-warming children’s play of the last days of a much
loved guinea pig
7. Angels or My Way? − Paul Gambaccini spins nation’s favourite funeral music in Desert Island Death Discs
8. A free exhibition of bespoke coffins from Ghana and the UK
9. Talks and debates on subjects inlcuding children’s understanding of death; suicide; and a tour of global death rituals from dancing with the dead in Madagascar to Tibetan sky burials
10. Death ‘Bites’ exploring the art of obituary writing; what happens to our digital data when we die; rock star deaths at 27 with Paul Morley and the political life of dead bodies from Jesus Christ to Gaddafi
11. Funeral pyre or green burial? − practical advice from Dead Good Guides and Natural Death Centre
12. Song of Summer − Ken Russell’s documentary on the final years of Delius’ life

“There is much about our common humanity that we acknowledge, share and celebrate, so why are we so reluctant to face up to the very thing that, in the end, unites us all? In the way that a fitting memorial can be revelatory, or the presence of humour in a well-observed wake can lighten the load, we hope that our new festival can begin to allow some light onto a subject too often consigned to the shadows.” – Jude Kelly, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre

‘Death: Southbank Centre’s Festival for the Living’ will take place from Fridady 27th to Monday 30th Januaray, 2012 at London’s Southbank Centre. More info here.

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