Video: Lift Me Up I Am Dying
by Gingersnap | damian-lewis.com | February 23, 2021
For more information, please visit the British School at Rome here
by Suzi Feay | Financial Times | February 23, 2021
EVENT DETAILS: Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 22:30 p.m. CET/21:30 p.m. GMT (4:30 p.m. Eastern time, 3:30 Central time). This event will premiere via the BSR’s YouTube channel here on the date and time indicated above.
To view photostills, please visit our Gallery here
It would have been a strange sight, if anyone had been there to witness: actor Damian Lewis, up a tree in his garden, reciting Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale” against a cacophony of banging and shouting from builders working next door. “Trying not to fall out of the tree or drop my laptop, talking about the melodious this, that and the other . . . very low-tech!”
The bicentenary of the death of John Keats falls today, and in a normal year, a new production of the play Lift Me Up, I Am Dying would have taken place in Rome, in the Keats-Shelley museum, located in the house where Keats died. As 2020 wore on with no sign of respite from the pandemic, it became clear this planned commemoration wasn’t going to happen.
by Gingersnap | damian-lewis.com | February 20, 2021
The British School at Rome (BSR), in association with the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association and the British Institute of Florence, will host a virtual film screening of Lift Me Up I Am Dying on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 22:30 p.m. CET/21:30 p.m. GMT (4:30 p.m. Eastern time, 3:30 Central time). This event will premiere via the BSR’s YouTube channel here on the date and time indicated above. To view photostills, please visit our Gallery here.
Lift Me Up I Am Dying by Pelé Cox recounts John Keats’s lingering death from tuberculosis in Rome from November 1820–February 1821. Pelé assembled the text entirely from the poems, letters, and diaries of the historical protagonists, into what she terms a “poetic chronologue,” timed to conclude at the very moment Keats died two hundred years ago (11 pm, February 23, 1821). Lift Me Up I Am Dying is a story of extraordinary bravery and extraordinary compassion, not only in the face of death but also Keats’ detractors.
Keats was accompanied to Rome, from London, via Naples, by the painter Joseph Severn. They arrived with the hope that Keats might return to England, and his great love Fanny Brawne, after a successful convalescence. But he was dead within four months. All the while Severn attended to him with a compassion so enduring that half a century later he would still ask to be buried by Keats’s side, in the Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome. Percy Bysshe Shelley, a fervent admirer, not only corresponded with Keats throughout his illness but at his passing penned Adonais, one of the greatest elegies written by one poet of another. Shelley himself was dead a year later and his ashes are interred in the same cemetery.
Lift Me Up I Am Dying was first performed in the Keats-Shelley House, Rome, in 2014. Our challenge has been to stage a performance on the anniversary of Keats’ passing, but in the present moment and from the confines of our own pandemic. The passionate, talented, and resourceful cast of Lift Me Up I Am Dying filmed themselves in their homes on iPhones and their performances were then edited and integrated in Pelé’s home in Ludlow.