Death Wings Project, produced by Portland’s Dramatic Repertory Company, Brunswick’s The Theater Project, Freeport’s Meetinghouse Arts and Maine theater artist Bess Welden, announces a series of community art-making workshops, an interactive art installation, and the premiere performances of Welden’s award-winning play, “Death Wings,” beginning this month through April 2023.

Death Wings Project is a web of visual and performing arts offerings that invites open dialogue and compassionate, creative exploration of loss and grief.

The hands-on workshops began in Portland at Mayo Street Arts on Jan. 22, and will continue in Freeport at Meetinghouse Arts on Feb 12, and in Brunswick at The Theater Project on March 5. Workshops are open to adults on a donation basis. Anyone can register for the workshops online at

Performances and installation visits will be open to the public and offered for a suggested donation of $5-$25 or pay-what-you-choose basis at The Theater Project in Brunswick, March 30-April 8 and at Meetinghouse Arts in Freeport, April 20-29. Tickets will be available to reserve in advance online beginning mid-February for The Theater Project and by mid-March for Meetinghouse Arts. Patrons can make a donation at the door for any performance. Links to the full schedule and ticket information at

The community art-making workshops, called “Death Wings: A Hands-on Creative Ritual for Remembering and Letting Go,” are co-facilitated by Welden and Project artist Dana Legawiec. The three-hour session guides a small group through opening up to feelings about loss and grief, and then creating a set of mini-wings out of paper and fabric to memorialize a person, major life transition or social issue. Welden says she designed the workshops because there is “a dearth of public rituals that not only normalize loss but actually celebrate what letting go liberates in us. I wanted to share and co-create a version of the invented end-of-life ritual from my play by inviting others to create their own wings in community.”

“Death Wings,” Welden’s play with songs, won the 2020 Maine State Prize of the Clauder Competition for New England Playwrights and was workshopped at the Boston Center for the Arts with Fresh Ink Theatre pre-pandemic. The script is now ready for full production in Brunswick and Freeport, with co-directors – René Goddess, Dana Legawiec, and Bess Welden; performers – Denise Poirier, Lyra Legawiec, Shannon Wade, Erica Murphy, and Julia Langham; music/musician – Janice O’Rourke; and designers – Meg Anderson, Michaela Wirth, Rachel Taylor, and Emilia McGrath. Described as “lyrical, mysterious, and moving,” the play unfolds over the last 100 minutes of Grand’s life – her memories, visions, feelings, and questions that help her discover the five sentences that tell her final story.  She’s dedicated her life to making wings that she believes helps others die, and to raising her granddaughter Rachel, a scientist who is determined to fly. Full of poetry, songs, and a radical re-visioning of the Daedelus/Icarus myth, Death Wings asks us to marvel at the wonder of flight – real and metaphorical – and the mysteries of human love, connection, loss, and letting go. The show will be performed on a set designed as an interactive art installation for audiences to explore before each performance.


Supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts, Maine Arts Commission, Puffin Foundation, and National Arts Strategies/Barr Foundation, Death Wings Project is a first-ever collaboration between three existing Maine arts organizations and an independent producing artist. Executive director of the Maine Arts Commission, David Greenham, highlighted this innovative collaboration as something he’s very excited about for the coming year of performing arts in the state in a recent episode of Maine Public’s radio program Maine Calling.

“We have a long, creative relationship with Bess and are enthusiastic about being part of the collaboration that is bringing her inventive play to audiences here in Maine,” said Keith Powell Beyland, Artistic Director of Dramatic Repertory Company. “DRC remains committed to producing theater that engages us in difficult or challenging questions as well as investing in the work of local theater artists.”

Wendy Poole of The Theater Project signed on to the Project because she was “ready to try producing theater in a new way – a collaboration that pools resources and centers the artists, that allows for more rehearsal time and more compensation for the creators of the work.”

Meetinghouse Arts Board of Directors President, Nancy Salmon says that her organization is “excited and honored to co-produce the Death Wings Project. This sort of deep dive into real life issues and big questions that we each deal with is exactly the kind of theater that expands our minds and hearts and engages our full humanity. As a playwright, Bess Welden’s handling of these human events of loss and grief, combined with the skills of the creative team she has pulled together will bring to the stage a work that offers additional ways to process our own personal losses, whatever their variety.”

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