A Social Convention

«Imagine a picture of your twelve best friends having a last supper together, sitting at a wooden table eating your favorite dish. Imagine all your friends and acquaintances gathered together in a forest cabin chatting about you. How would you like that? They might suddenly decide to play some Thugger tunes at full blast for you. And what do you think of the Prosecco they’re drinking?»

Oliver Roth is re-staging the funeral of his mother after 10 years newly. Casually and radically he reminisces, catches up on his grief of back then and tells what happened since his mother died. With brutal honesty, he performs a dialogue with the deceased and with the audience simultaneously. He speaks about common visits at the doctor, the certainty of an early death and truisms. While the audience witnesses a grieving man, it sees itself confronted with death in its most profane way.


The self-created genre «A social convention» offers the possibility to re-evaluate established traditions. The religious custom of funerals is fundamentally questioned without negating it. Oliver Roth examines the unwritten rules of mourning rituals with an ultra-personal approach and re-appropriates them in a contemporary update. The piece establishes a discourse about death and asks how we can speak about the unknown. How does our own future death look like and what can we say about it – really say?


WHILE YOU WERE DEAD is an open, clear and natural analysis of death, which questions how death is treated in the Western society. Oliver Roth performs honesty with a touch of kitsch. In an intimate setting, he confronts the audience with itself and with the inevitability of death. In an unexcited manner, he outlines death as the most normal thing in life and approaches the death of everyone in the audience with hope.







24.+ 25.10.2018    zeitraumexit Mannheim

28.+ 29.11.2017    ROXY Birsfelden

1.- 3.12.2016         Tanzhaus Zürich

15.10.2016            Nacht der 1000 Fragen Biel/Bienne

15.+ 16.8.2016      far° Festival des arts vivants Nyon

Photos: ©AnneLaureLechat

Photos ©Arthur Bauer

A performance by Oliver Roth / In cooperation with Demian Jakob, Daniela Ruocco, Pablo Weber, Rabea Grand / Mentoring by Yan Duyvendak / Further cooperation and thanks to Benny Hauser, Jessica Huber, James Leadbitter, Balz Isler, Moritz Lehner / Produced by General Performances and far° festival des arts vivants Nyon / Co-produced by Tanzhaus Zürich / With support of Burgergemeinde Bern, Dampfzentrale Bern, Fondation Nestlé pour L‘Art, Gessnerallee Zürich, Migros Kulturprozent, Nacht der 1000 Fragen Biel and Pro Helvetia - Swiss Arts Council