Me Without You: at Howard Assembly Room on 22 June

Grief and joy collide in Me Without You, a new co-commission from Britten Pears Arts, Opera North and Spitalfields Music.


Created and composed by Emily Levy and written and directed by Mella Faye, Me Without You brings together music, dance, visual art and storytelling to create a profound and intimate meditation on what it means to lose a loved one.

Emily Levy explains that inspiration for the piece was twofold, but primarily driven by the experience of losing her older brother, who died aged just 31: “We were incredibly close and it had a massive impact on my life – who I was before and who I am now. So he’s always in my mind when I write anything, but it’s kind of been secret. For years I’ve been building, I guess, towards doing something that’s a bit more explicitly about him and about that process.”

Secondary is Emily’s ‘long-time fascination’ with exploring the voice and speech through her work –recorded interviews with bereaved people across the UK form a core part of this project. As Emily puts it: “This piece is about combining my personal story with other people’s stories and then using the way they tell them and what they say to enhance their meaning.”

In Me Without You, these personal stories of love and loss are interwoven with contemporary classical music, acting, contemporary dance and video projections, by a world-class ensemble of artists. The result is a profoundly moving and richly textured production that celebrates both the people we’ve lost and those of us who are still here. And whilst themes of death and grief are central to Me Without You, Emily says it’s also: “packed full of joy, which maybe sounds a bit surprising, but I think it’s about grief and love being two sides of the same coin and bereavement being twinned with the full appreciation of life and living.”

Alongside the show, Emily and Mella have created an online ‘Catalogue of Connection’, where members of the public are invited to share memories and tributes to those they have lost in any format they like – photographs, artwork, poems, written reflections, videos etc. For more information, go to:

https://www.mewithoutyou.co.uk/catalogueofconnection

Me Without You comes to the Howard Assembly Room on Saturday 22 June at 7.45pm. Tickets cost £18 including booking fee (or £10 for Under 30s members) and are available from operanorth.co.uk (0113 223 3600).

Photography by Amanda Benson.

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