At 19, whilst studying film, Victor found his long-lost great aunt Marcelle in Rome. She had moved from Judaism to Christianity, from Lebanon to Italy, changed her name and kept a secret for a lifetime. He started to make a documentary about her life. Twenty years later, he may be about to finally complete it…
Having grappled with her story for so long, with the benefit of hindsight and his own maturity he now feels ready to do that story justice. Using the interviews he recorded with Marcelle alongside art projections, text, live music and movement he has created this multimedia piece to look into intergenerational shame, family secrets, history and what’s left when we’re gone. In this moving performance Victor loves Marcelle but doesn’t always like her.
The Death & Life of All of Us combines intimate storytelling, text, documentary footage of interviews with Marcelle and live music from multi-instrumentalist Enrico Aurigemma, against an art installation backdrop created by co-director and visual artist Yorgos Petrou with choreography devised by movement director and performance artist Jennifer Jackson.
The show is also about Victor coming into his queerness, about getting past the toxic shame handed down to us throughout the generations. It takes stories of those who are often hidden in society and represented in his identity (queers, migrants, Jews, Middle Easterns, Latin Americans and others), people seen as different, making their unique personal stories completely universal. Esses aims to rewrite history in his own terms and encourage the audience to access their own pasts and do the same.
Victor invites the audience into his poetic, intimate, subtle and warm space that is absorbing and comfortable yet contains moments of gut-punching revelation. He said ‘I want the show to invite audiences to understand how, in a world with so much migration, rising antisemitism, xenophobia and queerphobia, we can all meet together to celebrate that we are all unique and complex, wonderful and awful. To be human is to be multifaceted and often intersectional’.
‘There is a delightful softness too, both in his performance, style and writing’ The Stage
‘A beautiful story spanning continents and generations’ ★★★★★ A Younger Theatre
Quotes on Esses’ previous show, the Emerge Performance Prize nominated ‘Where to Belong’.
Victor Esses is a Jewish-Lebanese Latinx queer theatre maker, performance artist and writer. His practice centres nuanced intersectional auto/biographical stories of belonging, resilience and intimacy, encouraging audiences to ask questions about what makes us most human. www.victoresses.com
The Death & Life of All of Us can be seen at Summerhall Demonstration Room at 11.30am from 2 - 27 August
The Death & Life of All of Uswill undertake further UK dates later in 2023 and 2024 including Salford Lowry on 18 and 19 October.
The Death & Life of All of Us is supported by Arts Council England and seed commissioned by Camden People’s Theatre. Supported by Shoreditch Town Hall, The Lowry, Harlow Playhouse, Camden People’s Theatre, JW3, and Manchester Jewish Museum.