Alumnus performs one-woman play about loss and grief: Laura Thomas
In 2011, University of Wisconsin, Madison senior, Laura Thomas, received a call that would change her life forever. Her older brother and only sibling, Scott, jumped from the roof of his New York apartment building. He lived – his heart was still beating – but he would never be the same person again. Within nine months, Scott would wake up from a coma, be diagnosed for the first time in his life as schizophrenic, and successfully take his life.
Scott, a beloved performer, was mourned by many after his confusing, unexpected death. But for Laura, it wasn’t enough. She felt lost, alone, and bewildered, until she realized what was missing: conversation. With this newfound awareness, Laura decided to use the performing arts as a way to transform grief and loss into healing and connection.
“The first half of the performance is the story of Scott’s death and my family’s experience through it,” says Thomas, 27. “The second half is a discussion with the audience. It’s an opportunity for people to share whatever’s on their hearts and minds in a supportive environment.”
Thomas, an award-winning storyteller and actress, thanks her brother for her performing arts passion. “Life is full of challenges. Whether it’s losing someone to suicide, ending a relationship, or losing a dream, being alive means we all encounter grief, sadness, maybe depression.” These topics, not often discussed openly, are what Laura wants to normalize. “We need to support one another. It’s the only way we can create beauty from our pain instead of being hindered by it.”
For the last year, Laura has been performing across the country at conferences, businesses, community centers, and other theatres. She will be performing in Madison at The Bartell Theatre.
“It isn’t about me, or my story,” Thomas says. “It’s about realizing we all have similar experiences, and just when we want to hide away because we’re in pain, someone else can say, ‘Hey, I know life hurts sometimes. Let me sit with you awhile.’”
Laura plans to continue sharing her one-woman show in as many different contexts and venues as she can. “I hope everyone who is in need of this offering will find it. Scott would be glad to know his legacy stands for something so much greater than his death. He stands for life.”