Be the Death of Me  /

A new installation performance about life and death in New York City

Check out the Be the Death of Me trailer!

The Civilians takes its singular brand of creative investigation in a bold new direction with Be the Death of Me, an installation performance piece that offers the audience intimate encounters with matters of life and death in New York City. The show received its first two performances at the Irondale Center in Fort Greene, where each audience member navigated his or her own experiences. Through a dynamic variety of settings and formats, the audience encountered real stories gathered from a wide cross-section of New Yorkers - everyone from ER nurses to priests, funeral directors to vampires, shamans to crime-scene cleaners. Through this myriad of perspectives, Be the Death of Me uncovers hidden worlds inside New York - places inhabited by those that witness the demise of our bodies as well as those that imagine what may or may not happen to our souls on the other side of life. Be the Death of Me draws on months of interviews conducted by The Civilians' artistic team.

"I liken death to a hot air balloon that there are many ropes that tether the balloon once it's full of hot air it wants to rise and leave the ground, leave the earth. But those very thick ropes leave it tethered to the ground, and sometimes those ropes are fear, sometimes they're a very strong relationship, and we think about all the threads that connect you to your mother or your sister, or your brother. You kind of have to let some of those threads go, and you actually need to receive permission from your loved ones."

- Anonymous, Cancer Nurse

"Death gives everything such beautiful meaning. To live forever, you just wouldn't do anything. People already know they're going to die and they just sit around and watch television - that's death as much as anything else... I think maybe people should, periodically, have guns put to their heads."
- Brandon, Former Embalmer

"If you want to be buried in New York City, you need a lot of money, or a family member who already has a plot, or you just get lucky with immediate internment, otherwise you're probably going to be buried in New Jersey."
- Allison, Cemetery Tour Guide/Historian

For a listen to something else on the subject of death, check out these podcast episodes taken from a performance last year at Joe's Pub in our Let Me Ascertain You cabaret series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. And we hope you'll subscribe for free on iTunes HERE!

And for blog posts with our most recent updates and interviews, click HERE!

Directed by:
Steven Cosson

Cast Includes: B.D. Bass, Darien Battle, Marc Bovino, Danny Bryck, Aysan Celik, Gardiner Comfort, Molly Anne Coogan, Quinlan Corbett, Danielle Davenport, Matt Dellapina, Joel De La Fuente, Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Brad Heberlee, Daoud Heidami, Nina Hellman, Yehuda Hyman, Daniel Jenkins, Mia Katigbak, Garrett Neergaard, Wil Petre, Stephen Plunkett, Alison Scaramella, Indika Senanayake, Jeanine Serralles, Brian Sgambati, Mara Stephens, Megan Stern, Darius Stone, Kurt Uy, Jess Watkins, and Colleen Werthmann.

Project Director:
Ian Daniel

Project Manager:
Meridith Friedman

Micharne Cloughley

Artistic Assistant:
Leonie Ettinger

Set Design:
Mimi Lien

Lighting Design:
Lucrecia BriceƱo

Sound Design:
Ken Travis

Costume Design:
Chloe Chapin

Projection Designer:
Jeanette Yew

Associate Director:
Mia Rovegno

Associate Dramaturg:
Deepali Gupta

Interviews and research by: Leila Buck, Isabel Carey, Elsa Carette, EllaRose Chary, Chris Cragin-Day, Matt Dellapina, Dan Domingues, Lauren Ferebee, Jesse Goldman, Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Ben Gullard, Nina Hellman, Kevin Hourigan, Alex Kveton, David Lawson, Rachel Lerner-Ley, Carly Mensch, Stephen Plunkett, Victoria Pollack, Alex Rosenthal, Joey Sims, Jay Stull, Piper Werle and Sam Breslin Wright.


Be the Death of Me had two performances at the Irondale Center in Fort Greene on June 28 and 29, 2013.


Irondale Production

  • Mildly Bitter Blog: "Epic in scope but grounded in the documentary-style intimacy that makes [The Civilians'] investigative theater approach powerful and effective..."
  • American Association of Suicidology Blog: Article by an interviewee about the show
  • Vulture: Interview with Director Steve Cosson
  • Time Out New York: Things To Do Critics' Pick
  • Edge New York: "The performance portrays various perspectives on death in a captivating way. The constant need to move breaks up the monotony and allows moments for reflection between intense personal stories."