Mortality, cancer, fulfilment and queerness are at the heart of The Death of Me, Acting Out’s show that is landing at Prague Fringe at the end of this month. We sat down with triple threat Director/Writer/Designer Sean Denyer to discuss going from doctor to director, and the journey of the show’s central character, Susanne, who has morphed over the show’s long history. Join us for a pixelated pilsner!
Catch The Death of Me at Prague Fringe between May 22nd and 27th (times may vary). Tickets are available through the Prague Fringe Box Office.
Jake: Hi Sean! The Death of Me handles mortality and fulfilment with a blend of humour and pathos – how was it working with those themes and what are you hoping the audience get out of it?
Sean: It was quite tricky getting the balance! You rarely see a comedy about dying! Audiences have responded fantastically, and often said it’s a very authentic portrayal, of the conflicting things someone facing a life threatening illness, goes through. I hope an audience leaves having had a laugh, a cry and maybe thinking about how short a time we have on earth, and how we need to make the most of it, however long that time is.
Jake: The show is described as ‘one woman’s cancer journey’, where did the inspiration from the piece originate and how has it since come to life?
Sean: I’m a doctor by training and have seen a lot of people die! In my experience, people find humour in the most difficult parts of life, it’s how they get through it, and I have a sort of allergy to being too earnest. It’s just not how things are in real life. Tragedy and comedy are two sides of the same coin and I wanted this piece to reflect this. I also wanted to show how a queer chosen family responds like any other family put in this situation. We first showed it at the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, where it won the Hilton Edwards Award for Best Production, and Rachel Fayne was nominated for Best Actress.
Jake: Tell us a little about Susanne, the show’s central character, and how she finds herself within that journey.
I have been writing about this character for over a decade, this is third (and final) play to feature her and she’s gone from being a homophobic, politically incorrect, entitled bitch to an unapologetic, woke, lesbian bitch over that time! Each play stands alone and you don’t have to have seen the others to enjoy it. Rachel Fayne has played her from the start and it’s been brilliant to see her savour and develop the character’s complexities. I think in this play, you really get to see her vulnerable side, albeit she still can’t quite resist any opportunity for the caustic put-down!
Jake: Now that we’re gearing up for Prague Fringe, what are you most excited for?
Sean: This is our third time at Prague Fringe which tells you how much we love it. Steve and the team work really hard to ensure the artists have a great time, and it’s a wonderfully friendly and inclusive festival. Some of those we met at previous festivals are returning with new shows, so we are really looking forward to catching up with them and seeing their new work.
Jake: Given the themes of Binge Fringe, if your show was a beverage of any kind (alcoholic, non-alcoholic – be as creative as you like!), what would it be and why?
Sean: It’s tangy and salty and will leave you wanting more, so I’m going for a classic Margarita with a salty rim!