Beverley Bishop is doing an 8-hour dance challenge at Castle Quarter in Norwich tomorrow, as part of her grief journey following the death of her son to suicide. Here she explains how she’s raising money to take her show, Finding Magic, to Edinburgh Fringe – and why she dances every morning
Lots of things have happened in my life – some out of my control and others as a result of decisions I’ve made or things I’ve done. There have been lots of highs and lows – a bit of a rollercoaster ride. However, I have had lots of rich and wonderful experiences and I embrace life.
Finding Magic is the story of my grief journey following Jess’ death. It’s a story of love, loss and finding magic again. It was written during lockdown and premiered at Norwich Puppet Theatre on the second anniversary of Jess’ death – 11th October 2020. I created a digital version of the show and a live version for Zoom during the pandemic. This year I’m on tour, performing in theatres, arts centres, libraries and for charitable organisations who support people who are bereaved or struggle with mental health.
Jess gave me so much joy. We liked similar things like going for cups of tea in cafes, theatre, creating silly songs and generally having a laugh and giggle. He was very complex. He was very charismatic and could be the life and soul of the party but equally he was also very sensitive and have periods of time when he’d shut himself away. He was very opinionated and not afraid of speaking his mind – at other people’s cost. He was very generous and very loyal to family and friends. He also enjoyed antagonising his brother Sam! Something Sam and I talk and laugh about a lot. Jess embraced life and had high ambitions for the future. He wanted to be a lawyer and had just started studying Law at UEA.
On Saturday I am dancing for 8 hours in Castle Quarter. I’m raising money to take my show to the Edinburgh Fringe. I need to raise £2000 to cover costs such as travel, accommodation, technical costs, and marketing.
I dance every morning with friends on Zoom. I started doing it during lockdown and have continued. It’s a great way to start the day. We take it turn to choose a song and dance. Over the last few weeks, I have also danced for 2 hours in the evening or gone out for long walks. Sometimes I haven’t been able to do anything has taken over a bit with work, but I have tried to keep active. I’m hoping that adrenalin and lots of water will keep me going in Saturday. People can support me on the day by joining me for a dance to say hello. A donation would also be fantastic!
I’m so excited to be taking the show to the Fringe. I was planning to take it last year but unfortunately it wasn’t possible due to Covid. When I wrote the show, I had two aims. The first was to create a beautiful, poignant and thought-provoking show that was also uplifting and hopeful and the second was to take it to Edinburgh. At last, I’m getting my second wish!
I will continue to perform the show and offer workshops as long as there is interest in the show. I hope it is helpful to anyone who has experienced any kind of loss, whether bereavement, end of relationship, friendship, or job; loss of self-esteem etc. I also do a lot of campaign work to break the stigma that surrounds suicide. However, I’m always have a creative project on the go and through the creation of ‘Finding Magic’ I have developed a passion for magic! My latest challenge is to create a beautiful magic show that involves a levitating dancing umbrella!
There are no rules in grief. We all grieve differently. Allow yourself to do it your way. I have a need to express my feelings I do this by talking, writing, dancing and creatively expressing myself. I need somewhere to put my grief, somewhere to channel it. Other people might find different ways to channel their grief. Don’t be afraid to ask for support if you need it, whether it’s family and friends or professional help. I believe you can find magic again after loss. By magic I mean, joy, your vital spark, mojo… Grief doesn’t vanish, it’s something that you learn to live with. But there is magic to be found. I truly believe this. There is magic to be found in the day to day, like kindness, connection, children laughing, nature etc.
I promised my son that I would live my best life because I’m living it for the two of us. I want to embrace life and make him proud.
Beverley Bishop is a creative practitioner with a passion for wellbeing, and deliver talks, workshops, creative projects, and laughter sessions. Visit beverleybishop.com and Facebook. Her son, Jess Benjamin Fairweather, took his life in October 2018. Bev’s 8-hour danceathon challenge takes place at Castle Quarter (on level 1 near Leading Labels), Norwich, tomorrow (Saturday July 16), from 10am to 6pm. If you would like to make a donation, visit Visit Fundraiser by Beverley Bishop : Help ‘Finding Magic’ go to Edinburgh! (gofundme.com). She will be performing Finding Magic live at C cubed for a limited run from August 10-13. The digital version is available on-demand during the Fringe and in the C ARTS year-round digital programme. Live performances ticketing link here; online on-demand performance ticketing link here.
Featured image of Beverley Bishop and her son, Jess Benjamin Fairweather, who took his life in October 2018.