Writer and actor Louise Lewis writes for Culture about her latest play for radio, the Drama On One production Shouting out Silence – a moving, intimate recounting of one woman’s life and a past she fought hard to forget. Listen to Shouting Out Silence below.
During the last hours of Lizzie's life a haunted past seeps into her consciousness. In this intimate, often heart-wrenching recounting, Lizzie remembers a past she fought hard to forget. From her nameless beginnings in the care of the Nuns to her imminent end in a hospice bed she finally finds a voice to tell her story: "I have no past, but I have lived, I have lived!"
Listen to Drama On One: Shouting out Silence by Louise Lewis
There aren’t a lot of people who haven’t had some sort of contact or knowledge of the hospice in this country whether it be through family, friends or neighbours. My Aunt had passed away in Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services in Harold’s Cross a few years ago and so I had a direct relationship with it. At the time, we had a family rota for visiting so every few days I would visit her.
While there I was in awe at the staff. Watching them care, chat, calm the patients all the while following all the medical procedures they had to do as well as getting patients out of beds for walks, rehab or any of the many volunteer led programmes they have on there from a sing song, to getting your hair done to much more left me speechless.
Even though this is a play about dying, it is also honesty, acceptance and the resilience of the human spirit.
That time we had as a family with our Aunt May in the hospice was very precious. Her death was gentle and quiet in the care of these wonderful staff. We were and are so grateful for that.
I had been toying about writing a script about the Hospice for a while since my Aunts death and so I went to speak to Gorretti Slavin from Drama on One, who I’ve been lucky enough to have collaborated with before, about this seed of an idea that was planting in my head. Gorretti herself has experience with the hospice so in a lot of ways it became a very personal piece to us both.
We started out in developing the story by visiting the hospice.
Listen: This research into the lives of those in Hospice care inspired Shouting out Silence, written by Louise Lewis and devised in collaboration with Gorretti Slavin This Making Of documentary features Pastoral Care Chaplain Breda Casserly, Therese O'Reilly and Clinical Nurse Manager Nicola Purcell.
But like all art as you research and sit with the work and talk to the people, it can change and in the case of Shouting Out Silence it did change. It went from being about the hospice, the wards, the staff (even though that’s all in there) to really being about the person who was dying. And what goes through their head in the few days or hours before this happens. Are they thinking of their past, the present, who they will leave behind? What is going on in their heads?
From all this, our beautiful complex character Lizzie’s story started to develop.
The wonderful staff of the Galway Hospice were incredibly honest and forthcoming in sharing their knowledge, their thoughts, their stories with us. It was a privilege for myself and Gorretti to be in company of such strong caring people.
Every single one of them talked about the patient. The patient was always the most important person in the room so to speak.
It seemed only right then for us to tell this story from Lizzie’s point of view. Even though we meet many characters throughout it always comes back to Lizzie. Its always from her perspective. Even though this is a play about dying, it is also honesty, acceptance and the resilience of the human spirit.
We hope you can listen and spend time with Lizzie in her last hours.