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It’s Complicated… This Gift of Life

Michelle Pauls


Categories: Theater, Immersive/Interactive Experience, Storytelling

Dates: September 15, 2023 - September 23, 2023

Run Time: 50 mins

Venue: Vox Populi Gallery


Can a play about organ donation and grief be funny? Yes! Follow one woman’s moving story about how her husband’s tragic death led to finding new meaning in witnessing and being witnessed. A short and powerful interactive, darkly comedic and multi-disciplinary theatre performance about organ donation, mental illness, grief and hope. How can we look at the “sacred transaction” of one person donating their organs, their life, and another person receiving them in order to keep their life going?

In order to donate organs, someone has to die. How are we supposed to feel about that? And even if our “person” does not become an organ donor we will all grieve someone or something someday. Instead of hiding our grief from others or pretending it’s not there, how can we surround each other in our darkest times with presence and love? This production uses the power of live theatre, music and movement to connect artists and audience in the liminal space between life and death, peace and trauma, grief and meaning-making. Through the transformational powers of drama, ritual and humor, we offer a safe space as we ask the unanswerable questions: Who are we and What are we doing here?

This is an invitation: to witness others in their grief, despair, and joy, without trying to fix or change them, as if to say, “I see you, we are connected.” And to be witnessed, saying: “Here I am, just like I am, broken AND magnificent—all at the same time.”
We are planting the seeds, not for an endgame–for an evolving connection of hope.

Content partners are The Threshold Collective, providing support in aging, death and dying issues, medical system navigation, and  celebrations of life. Also the grief professional and death midwife, Naila Francis of Salt Trails Grief Cooperative and This Hallowed Wilderness. Naila will lead a talkback 9/18 after the performance.

About the Artist

Michelle Pauls is a theatre artist, educator and writer. For over 20 years she ran her own theatre company (B. Someday/Walking Fish Theatre) where she produced mostly original work. She has worked as an actor in the NY/PA region and won a Barrymore Award in 2010. She is on faculty at Penn State Abington teaching acting and devising. She is a trained facilitator in Theatre of the Oppressed and recently received certification in Positive Psychology with the WholeBeing Institute. She is a founding member and lead singer with the rock band, The Poettes. She created, wrote, directed and acted in the pandemic art mini-web series, SPEAKING OF FAMILY…

Her grief work includes examining and writing about the loss of her marriage and her husband, as well as continuing the Passage Project–using theatre tools to help those on hospice and their families celebrate life and choose a death worth living for.


  • Carly L BodnarDirector
  • Michelle PaulsPlaywright
  • Dana CapannaActor
  • Anthony DiazActor

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