“This festival isn't about morbidity, it's an amusement park for your soul,” says Stefan Hunt, the writer, artist and filmmaker behind forthcoming arts fiesta We're All Going to Die.
Taking place in labyrinthine Sydney arts space Commune on November 17, it’s set to be an immersive melange of performance, DJ sets, art and immersive experiences exploring how death can change our focus on life. Fear less, live more is the message to the predominantly young audience Stefan hopes to attract and join in the conversation.
Two years ago, he says, his own anxiety got so bad, that he couldn’t make a single decision.
“Life spiralled,” he explains.
“But one day I penned a poem We’re All Going To Die and everything changed. Suddenly my fears seemed small. I realised that if life’s only guarantee is death then why not take a few risks?”
If some people breeze through life, there is one certainty that we share. Death comes to us all and is an ultimately shared by many of us. Thinking about this, explains Stefan, shifted the perspective of his own fears in life.
“The moment you realise that you’re not the only one living with fears is the moment it all changes and this festival is a great platform to get people talking,” he says.
A death-positive celebration
We’re All Going to Die Festival is set to be a death-positive arts extravaganza of experiences that have been curated to encourage people to fear less, live more. Members of the public are invited to share about the things in life that worry them, repurposing their fears into reassurance for others coping with similar anxieties.
A successful $37,424 crowdfunding pitch on Kickstarter raised the financial support (and then some) to make the We’re All Going to Die Festival happen. If the Sydney event is a triumph, Stefan could even take the show on the road across the world.
Funeral professionals and psychologists will be part of panel discussions around death, fear and opening up to conversation about topics that can be difficult to think about. Guest panelists will also include Kerry Noonan, founder of Australian death positive movement, the GroundSwell Project. Robyn Wilson will be talking about the Sydney arts and health organisation she founded, Flutter Lyon, which is getting people to open up about, and enhance, their mental health.
We're All Going to Die: What's on?
The We’re All Going to Die festival will also explore through mindfulness workshops, what we can learn from how people who have come to terms with terminal diagnosis. Many, says Stefan, spend their final months living in the most “loving, conscious and caring” way.
Mary Hoang is a psychologist with the Surry Hills-based Indigo Project, which takes a holistic approach to improving people’s mental wellbeing. She’s collaborating with the We’re All Going to Die team to create an immersive Death Meditation. “Facing fear and death doesn’t always have to be scary,” she says. “In fact, it can be illuminating, profound and a great teacher to us.”
Artists including The Land Boys, Mia Taninaka, Ozzie Wright, Nadia Hernandez have been asked, What Would Your Tombstone Say? and each tasked with create a homage to their own lives and the legacy they hope to leave via their Living Tombstone.
Stefan stresses that We’re All Going to Die is death-positive and does not make light of death, nor the pain of bereavement and grief.
“What we aim to do is shine a light on the inevitable nature of death and use that to encourage positive action in life,” he says.
“Don’t wait until you die to live. Start practising now.”
We’re All Going to Die will take place at Commune, in Waterloo, NSW on November 17. Tickets cost $15 and are available through Eventbrite.