Faye Driscoll, Thank You For Coming: Space. Performance view, Montclair State University’s Peak Performances at Alexander Kasser Theater, 2019. Photo: Maria Baranova

Cassie Peterson on Faye Driscoll's Thank You For Coming: Space

By Cassie Peterson

Who is called to lead a funeral? Who is summoned to help us through these burial rights? Who can gracefully usher a spirit from this realm into the next? Who is qualified to take our uncertain hands and lead us through the bardos of the afterlife? Who is equipped to ritualize loss and mourning? Who then, in this journey, also has the fortitude to direct the choir and the prayer and the procession?

A shaman.

A healer.

An artist.

A witch.

A lover.

A friend.

A daughter.


We gather here. Together.

Faye Driscoll’s SPACE exists as the third and final installment of her three-part Thank You For Coming Series. The entire performance materializes as a very vulnerable-looking Driscoll labors through a highly considered, raw space in a 75-minute solo endeavor. What unfolds in front of us, with us, amongst us is a palpable re-experiencing and marveling at her pain, which is also our pain. It is the Pain of All Pains, the unavoidable pain of being born and then dying. SPACE leads us in, and then out. And back in. It takes us home. Forever and ever. Amen.


Thank you for fucking me up in the only way that truly matters. Thank you for existing as the-heart-of-the-matter from the moment we sat down in our seats. Thank you for not letting me forget The End that is coming for us all. Thank you for decimating all of my defensive, critical, or protective postures that I employ to keep me safe from knowing that everyone I know will die and I will also die. And you will die and they will die and also, we are all actually already dying. Right now.

Thank you for assaulting my senses, every sense, every single sensibility with the endless string of beginnings and endings that we all face every day. Begin. End. End. Begin. And Again. Every moment in life is a practice ground for the eventual arrival of death. Thank you for not letting me un-see or un-know this. Thank you for shaking me loose from any sense of certainty I may have walked in here with. No need to be polite. Or civil. Thank you for undoing my role as a spectator and enlisting me to hold all of this with you -- All of this SPACE and all the emptiness and all of the nothingness.

Faye implores us:

Let go. Let go. Let go. Let go. Let go. Let go. Let go.

Faye says.

She says to the audience.

She says to the space in front of her.

Her body asks of us.

Let go. Please. Let go with me, for me.

The stakes are high. Let go.


Thank you for not allowing my fear or discomfort to be a reason to do or not do anything. Thank you for making me work and for holding me to it. Holding me to it. Hold me. Please hold me, please.

Thank you for rendering me without the words, but also, now desperately searching for the words to describe the absence and unmet need that aches from below the surface of my life, almost every day. Thank you for inviting me right into the left-alone-ness of it all. Thank you for both inviting me and demanding from me that I feel the terror of loss. And abandonment. SPACE is both the memory and the promise of losing everything. And again.


Thank you for showing us that loss and absence can define you, for a moment(s) or for a lifetime(s) or for a generation(s) or forever(s). I am so grateful to you for showing us how to be with an It’s-Complicated loss. Here I am, wading through the afterimages of my own It’s-Complicated loss. I know I am back in this particular shadowland because as I sit here in SPACE, I am covered in an old familiar fear-sweat. In fact, there is an emerging, pungent body odor and it is not coming from the weary body of the lone performer. It is coming directly from the adrenal systems of her witnesses as we work together to hold her and ourselves and the Pain of All Pains. It is a heavy load.

I remember now that I felt sad a few weeks ago, on the death-day-anniversary of my It’s-Complicated loss and someone innocently asked me, Oh-do-you-miss-her?

And I remember that I felt so bewildered by the question.

Do-I-miss-her? I thought.

Why-would-someone-even-ask-me-that? I thought again.

How did that become the question to ask? I remember not being able to give an answer because the question was barely comprehensible to me.

But let me try to answer now… ahem…

Fuck you, It’s-Complicated loss. Fuck you Absence mixed with Rage mixed with Grief mixed with Acceptance mixed with Avoidance mixed with Emotional-bypass-thinly-veiled-as-surrender-and-serenity mixed with Oh-wait-what-are-we-talking-about-again? mixed with Why-can’t-I-feel-my-legs? My-hands? Why-Can’t-I-feel-myself-at-all mixed with I-think-I-need-to-throw-up mixed with Where-is-the-closest-exit? mixed with…

a legacy of gut wrenching tears.

What is a prostration called if you didn’t choose it?

What is a prostration called if you never get up again?


Thank you for digging deep into a very private, shameful grief that is far more ugly and brutal than anything I would actually like to know. I needed you and loved you, and also hated you because I needed you, but lost you before I actually truly lost you or could really fully love you, and so now I hate myself more, the most, for ever needing you in the first place. And for losing you. Did I lose you? Did I make you get lost? Did my hate kill you? Or was it my need that did you in? When you were supposed to love me but you didn’t love me oh-so-great and then I hated you while still needing you and then you died… what does that leave behind? How do I track that? What do the traces of this kind of loss look like? Feel like?



Faye Driscoll, Thank You For Coming: Space. Performance view, Montclair State University’s Peak Performances at Alexander Kasser Theater, 2019. Photo: Maria Baranova


I think these are some of the words, but certainly not all of them. Words will never be enough here, but I am desperate to find them anyway. My survival might depend on it.

My survival depends on it.

It’s-always-an-inside-job, I will say to my insides as I sit, looking for the words, looking for you and for me and for everything in between.


I-don’t-have-to-be-happy-about-this, I will think to try to soothe myself. I do not have to be happy about finding these words, but still.

Then Faye interrupts my reverie by saying,


She is reading and holding in her hand a small sewn-on badge from the deceased person’s detritus, while standing up on a small stage that looks like a sermon pulpit. Faye is standing there, where she has been summoned, and I imagine her with a halo or a gold crown or a thorned crown or a third eye or a sacred heart or owl wings or…


She emphasizes a long eeeeeee sound here.

Call and Response. Say it back. We can respond because some of us are living.


The words vibrate inside me, making their mark. I am feeling it and believing it.

Can I just take a moment to say that I hate you for dying?

I hate you for dying.

But it is only in your death that I am able to feeeeeeeel who you actually were. It is only in death that I can connect with your actual life. You had one, it turns out. You did have one. And I have one. Right now.

Wake-The-Fuck-Up! I beg of you.


Faye Driscoll, Thank You For Coming: Space. Performance view, Montclair State University’s Peak Performances at Alexander Kasser Theater, 2019. Photo: Maria Baranova


I do not believe this is happening. How can this be happening? I never thought this would happen.

Please say this isn’t so. Please make it go away. I’ll do anything.


I’m fine. No, I’m fine.


I am full of rage. Fuck this and fuck you for dying. Fuck you for living in the first place and then making me live through your death. Fuck you.

The dragon stirs.

There you go again, she snarls from the other side of being alive. You always have to have the last word, don’t you? You always have to be the storyteller, the one with the story.

Yeah! I shout back.

I do! I add.

I really do. I repeat.

I need to have the last word. I am having the last word. Right now, you know?

I’m having the last one, okay?

This is the last one. You hear me?

Right? Okay?

Do you understand? I’m having this. The last word.




Anybody there?



Leave me alone, overwhelming grief. Leave me alone, potential grief. Future grief, wrapped in past grief. Grief spiral. Grief black hole. Go. Get gone.

Grief is not an event. Or a moment. Or a thing. We should be so lucky.

Grief is a current that runs through your entire life. You step in. And out. And back in. Sure, life has the good sense to end, but grief is eternal. There is no grief in the past tense. It is always with us, being, in the now. And now. There is no grieved -- there is only grieving.


My heart is broken, open. Our hearts are broken, open.

Together, here with Faye and with SPACE.

Faye whispers, somehow with both desperation and dignity.

Her body asks of us.

Please help me. Hold my head. Hold my hands. Hold this rope. Hold this weight. Pull this. Push this. Hold me again. Hold this piece of earth. Please help me. Hold me. It’s not enough. It will never be enough because it was never enough. It was never going to be enough. It was never supposed to be enough.


Thank you for my life. I walked away with my life, tonight. Again, and as if for the first time. Thank you for the courage to look at the demons, square in the face. To growl back. To spit back. To look into the abyss and say okay-then-take-me-now.

Don’t stop. Whatever it is you’re doing, do it better. Put your heart into it. Make your life be everything. I beg of you.

Start. Don’t stop. Do not pass go. Keep going. Slow down. Be gentle. Speed up. Do it. Die. You will die. You will rattle. Pay attention. You will spill out and over. It’s never too late. It’s always too late. Go easy. Go hard. You will end up in the mud. Make love to the mud because it is your new home. You are the mud. Your flesh will give birth to maggots.

Thank you for showing me how to let go, how to stop breathing, how to let my eyes roll back in my head. Thank you for putting flesh on dust-to-dust so that I can see it and feeeeeeel it. Thank you for taking that flesh away again. Thank you for sinking into the earth and into the underworlds. Thank you for making a home there. Thank you for holding my hand. Thank you for showing me all the things that I never learned from the people who were supposed to show me things. Thank you for being my surrogate funeral.

Thank you for being The Funeral of All Funerals.

Thank You For Coming.


Faye Driscoll, Thank You For Coming: Space. Performance view, Montclair State University’s Peak Performances at Alexander Kasser Theater, 2019. Photo: Maria Baranova

Filed under:



Join the Critical Correspondence Email List

Cassie Peterson

Cassie Peterson is a writer, thinker, and lavender menace who splits her time between New York City and Portland Maine, in the name of sanity. By day, she works as a psychotherapist in private practic...
Read More