Shivah is a performance art piece that explores the intersections between mental health, intergenerational trauma, spirituality, and mourning through reflections on my family history.
My paternal grandparents, Alick and Sue, married in 1949. Alick was subsequently disowned by his Jewish family for marrying a non-Jewish woman. His family sat shivah, a Jewish ritual of mourning, symbolically declaring him dead to them. Alick suffered a breakdown in the 1960s and was diagnosed with “manic depression”. He died from a brain haemorrhage in 1967 when my father was sixteen years old. A number of my family members have since struggled with mental health problems, including one who took her own life. Like my grandfather, I also live with depression and I wish to spare my son the same fate, if I can. My performance engages with this personal history and with the broader themes related to mental health, death, and intergenerational trauma, through one particular custom from shivah, the covering of mirrors.
I have been supported in the development of this work by my mentor and friend Alan Schacher.
An early version of Shivah was performed live as part of ‘LIVE DREAMS: THRESHOLD‘ curated by Victoria Spence and produced by Performance Space and Carriageworks.
Photography: Alex Davies @alexdavies.photo