Written and Directed by Steve Cosson

Are we truly afraid of dying? Or are we afraid of living?

For the ancients, it was essential: a journey unto the land of the dead as the only means of retrieving something crucial to life. In The Undertaking, the Civilians offer a playful and profound 21st-century take on that underworld excursion. Using transcripts of actual conversations with shamans, morticians, philosophers, and mystics as their script, two actors toe the precipice, inhabiting the twilight between being and non-being, transcendent visions with ayahuasca, flirtations with existential dread, and bouts of cosmic bliss. Inventive video and sound contribute to this engrossing attempt to see the unseeable, moving toward the light while illuminating how to live.

Photo by Zach Hyman.


Written and directed by Steve Cosson
Creative Collaborator and Psychopomp: Jessica Mitrani

Set and Costume Design: Marsha Ginsberg
Lighting Design: Thomas Dunn
Sound Design: Mikhail Fiksel
Projection Design: Tal Yarden
Stage Manager: Cherie Tay
Production Manager: Stacey Boggs and G. Ben Swope
Producer: Jane Jung
Dramaturgy: Jocelyn Clarke and Jacey Erwin
Assistant Director: Sophie Blumberg
Set and Costume Design Assistant: Blake Palmer
Projection Design Assistant and Projections Operator: Rasean Davonte Johnson
Sound Design Assistant: Josh Friedman

Tour Producing Consultant: Mara Isaacs, Octopus Theatricals
Company Manager: Bryan Hunt
Technical Directors: Matt Mauer and Andy Sowers

Steve (and others): Dan Domingues
Lydia (and others): Irene Lucio


OnStage at Connecticut College in Palmer Auditorium
Saturday, September 17, 2016.

World premiere at the 2016 BAM Next Wave Festival
A co-presentation of BAM and Théâtre de la Ville (Paris, France)
September 21 - 25, 2016
BAM Fisher in the Fishman Space, 321 Ashland Place Brooklyn, NY 11217.

Duke Performances at Duke University, Durham, NC in the Sheafer Lab Theater
September 29, 2016 - October 1, 2016.

Théâtre de la Ville, Paris, France
October 5 - 8, 2016.

The Undertaking was created through developmental residencies at the Orchard Project, a program of The Exchange and the Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Maryland.


  • New York Times: (Critic's Pick) Review: In ‘The Undertaking,’ Considering the End With Some Laughter
  • France Culture: New York en live, le point sur la scène américaine
  • New York Times: BAM Next Wave Festival to Include Isabelle Huppert and Mikhail Baryshnikov