Exploring trauma, relationships, and our human instincts to find the courage to survive, the heartfelt Funeral Flowers comes to The Bunker this April. Emma Dennis-Edwards (New Futures, Pentabus Theatre Company; After Orlando, The Finborough) won the Filipa Bragança Award for an outstanding solo theatre performance by an actress for her Fringe First award-winning run of this incredibly powerful production at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018.
Through lyrical spoken word and an inspiring floristry demonstration, Funeral Flowers takes audiences on an immersive journey into the world of seventeen-year-old Angelique, who dreams of being a florist. Left alone to navigate the care system, adulthood, and the recurring threat of her boyfriend’s gang, Angelique takes us by the hand and leads us through her story, through spaces filled with flowers.
Set in Tottenham, North London, the show playfully switches between six characters to highlight the reality of many vulnerable young women, and young black women in particular, who are left to grow up in the British care system. As a series of life-changing events force Angelique out of her home, she must question what the future holds and if she can break free from her surroundings and forge a new path. Is it really possible to be able to escape the cycle you’ve been bound by your whole life?
A story of perseverance and hope, a sprit that remains crucial to this play, the piece was inspired by Tottenham Community leader and businesswoman, Gina Moffatt, who shared her story of creating her own floristry business whilst incarcerated at HMP Holloway. Funeral Flowers challenges broken institutions to explore the repercussions of a system in crisis. A heart-breaking story about abusive relationships but also real hope, this incredible production explores the story of how a young girl in a lonely world, uses floristry as a gateway out of the life.
Emma Dennis-Edwards commented: “I originally wrote Funeral Flowers specifically for audiences in Tottenham and I am proud that, since its run in Edinburgh, the story of Angelique has resonated with audiences – I cannot wait to bring the show back to London. It is truly a privilege to bring Funeral Flowers to The Bunker and to continue to work with their Artistic Director, Chris Sonnex, who put me and Gina together whilst he was working as an Artistic Associate at the Royal Court Theatre. Working with Chris on his first (female-led) season feels truly incredible and like coming home; I feel certain that Funeral Flowers won’t be mine and Chris’ last collaboration together. I’m also over the moon that Funeral Flowers will return to its Tottenham roots at The Bernie Grant Arts Centre, where Gina runs the local café. This is a coming of age story, Angelique faces lots of adversity, but I remain hopeful for her and her humanity.”
Funeral Flowers began life as a short play for the Royal Court Tottenham Festival, and was initially performed as a site-specific show in a shipping container for the people of Tottenham. In Edinburgh it was part produced by Power Play, an activist theatre campaign that looks to analyse and expose gender inequality in grassroots and fringe theatre, using data-activism, immersive theatre and bold stunts. Their campaign at the Fringe involved a takeover of an Edinburgh flat to stage four brand new plays written by women, featuring all-female casts.
Funeral Flowers will run at the Bunker, The Bunker, 53A Southwark Street London SE1 1RU from 15 April – 4 May.
Photo credit: Max Hayte