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Local Play Hopes to Give People the Chance to Explore the Grief they Missed During Lockdown

We are here to tell the stories that could not be told.
To bear witness to the sorrow that could not be spoken.
To find the words that could not be said.
To celebrate the stories and lives of those we have lost.

– From The Covid Requiem by Jo Clifford and Lesley Orr

As the summer season draws to a close, the Pitlochry Festival Theatre are hosting a special and emotional play entitled The Covid Requiem.

Taking inspiration from the Discovery Garden at the theatre, Playwright and performer, Jo Clifford and Lesley Orr have put together a moving performance designed to mourn but also celebrate those who have died.

The playwright shared her inspiration behind writing The Covid Requiem and her desire to reach out and support others in a similar position.

Jo Clifford said:

“Before the lockdown my Big Brother Tony fell very ill and sadly died in hospital and I was very aware how important it was for us as a family to do our best to make sure someone was with him while this was going on.

“After he passed away, I was asked to deliver the eulogy at his funeral and again I just felt how important it was that I was able to tell his story to those who he loved and those who loved him and that his life be witnessed in some way.

“When the lockdown happened and I was reading about people falling ill of COVID and having to be in just total isolation and dying alone and the families not being able to be with them I thought ‘God that would be such a painful, painful thing to have to go through’ and then as if as if it couldn’t be any worse it was made worse by the fact that people couldn’t have a proper funeral. They couldn’t be together in person and mourn those who loved.

“It seemed to me that as a theatre maker and I have written a lot of plays, it would be possible to devise something that would just bring people comfort and help them through their grief.

“It’s not really a play. It’s much more of a of a ceremony. A ceremony with music that is guiding people very gently. Very warmly, very compassionately, I hope. through their suffering and just bringing a wee bit of sunshine a wee bit of light, a wee bit of hope.

Whilst grief is a deeply personal time it is also a shared experience, something that the past year has highlighted more than ever as the entire World hurt as one for those that we lost.

The play features music from one of Scotland’s most celebrated and accomplished fiddle players and composers, Duncan Chisholm and multi-instrumentalist, Innes Watson.

Jo worked with historian, writer, and activist Lesley Orr to put together not only a play, but a special experience for those attending.

Jo Clifford explained:

“The first thing we did really was, we came up to Pitlochry and we travelled round the woods at the back of the theatre together – The Discovery Garden – and we thought well actually what we need to do is to create a journey – a journey that is a bit like the different stages in the grieving process.

“We chose five different spots where different things would happen.

“We also knew that we needed to work with musicians and we’re so lucky because we’re working with Duncan Chisholm who is one of the best fiddlers in the Highland style in the country and with Innes Watson and together, they are creating the most beautiful musical accompaniment for what we’re doing.

“I think in our culture where perhaps we perhaps have a lot of difficulty with grief, were taught to keep a stiff upper lip – to pretend everything is fine and sometimes not everything is fine. Sometimes we do need to be with people in the same situation.

“We’ll be there to greet them, and they’ll be making the journey with us.

Attendees are also being invited to participate in a unique and touching way to remember their own loved ones.

Jo said:

“Something that we’re inviting them to do is when they book their tickets is to if they want to leave a name of someone they’ve loved and they’ve lost and something special about them so that during the course of the hour we’ll have a chance to read out the name.

“Reading out the names, having the names witnessed as someone we loved is an incredibly important part of the whole process – just celebrating the people we’ve loved – who they were and what they did.

“Grief can be helped where we can be helped to get through this grief. If the grief is shared. If we’re in a place where our feelings are acknowledged.

“Our feelings are accepted, and we can kind of bring them out into the open and look at them and hold them and feel them and then they become much easier to bare.”

The Covid Requiem will be performed between the 15th – 18th September, 2021 and further information can be found through the Pitlochry Festival Theatre at: https://pitlochryfestivaltheatre.com

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