An interview with Dr Marcos Ariel Hourmann

I Will Celebrate My Death, a compelling theatre production, premieres in Malta this June at Spazju Kreattiv. Dr Marcos Ariel Hourmann recounts his life experience as being the first doctor convicted in Spain for practising euthanasia illegally and the audience will act as judge and jury. Audrey Rose Mizzi caught up with Dr Hourmann for an interview to tell us more about this production

Dr Marcos Ariel Hourmann
Dr Marcos Ariel Hourmann

Audrey Rose Mizzi: Celebraré mi Muerte, or as it’s now translated, I Will Celebrate My Death, has a very compelling narrative and is told verbatim as how things unfolded in real life by yourself - how does it feel to be able to do this, considering the sensitivity of the subject?

Marcos Ariel Hourmann​: As you say, Celebraré mi Muerte is told verbatim as how things happened in my real life. It is a documentary performance where I’m alone on the stage telling my own story with some documentary parts shown on a screen that complement the show. When they proposed the idea to me, it seemed it could help to talk about the subject and create a debate to reflect on. It would also help to move forward with a law that society was asking for a long time ago. The law went ahead 2 years after the premiere of the production thanks also to many people in Spanish society such as the association for the right to die with dignity and people who showed their pain and died in circumstances unwanted by any human being. For all this, I can tell you that every time I am on the stage, I feel very proud of what we have achieved and happy for the medical and personal recognition that the public gives me, after so many years of suffering.

ARM: In Malta, assisted suicide or active euthanasia is still illegal and discussions are often highly influenced by traditional religious beliefs. How do you think that your story might affect the audience attending and their perception of the matter?

MAH: Religion is always between us. Spain has a strong catholic tradition, but the Spanish community is a mature society and had been dealing with this issue for some years now. It has been a much-talked topic, politically for years and finally the conditions were met to approve the law with the most progressive government since the beginning of Spanish democracy. Obviously, there are people against this law but in Spain almost 80% of the population are in favour of euthanasia. Religion couldn’t do anything against 80% of the population. Even among religious people, this law is accepted. I think my story could help Malta’s audience to think about our own death and that of our loved ones from a different point of view. I’m not trying to convince anyone, and it is not my intention to change anyone’s perception. The main objective with my work is to remove those feelings that make us think about differently about these situations especially at the end of a life, through my own lived experience.

ARM: This play is described as a trial - you recount the story as a witness to those present in the space. What I also find intriguing about this play is that you ask the audience directly to write their verdict of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’. What were those interactions like - and did you have any that changed your perspective on what happened?

MAH: There have been verdicts of innocent, guilty and also messages that people wanted to share with me, sentences of thanks and also those who did not agree with what I did. But in general, most of the interactions have been positive and constructive. This reflects the audience’s thoughts on the subject in Spain. Once, there was a verdict that made me conscious that I could be guilty and innocent at the same time. The verdict was “legally guilty, morally innocent”. Life is not black or white - life has many greys sometimes.

ARM: In hindsight, if you were met with the same situation today, would you have chosen to do the same? Do you think that nowadays, the reaction would have been less damaging?

MAH: Interviewers often ask me about this, and I always respond the same way. Without the law, I wouldn’t have done it again due to the consequences I suffered from. Without the law, from a moral point of view I would, but from a legal point of view I wouldn’t. The legal journey was very painful for me and my family, and today with the euthanasia law in force, yes, I would do it in the terms that the law regulates.

ARM: This will be your international premiere of the production. What are your hopes for the future when it comes to the project and sharing the subject with more audiences?

MAH: I’m very excited and grateful to be able to do this play in Malta. It is a great opportunity to bring a subject as controversial as euthanasia to countries where it is still an illegal practice. Euthanasia is a universal theme. Everyone will die. We must talk about this. Us talking about death, can limit fear in people. My hope is to be able to contribute my experience to all those countries that want to discuss euthanasia through culture, which is a fantastic way to stir consciences.

ARM: And, what would the audience expect from this experience?

MAH: I would like to make it clear that I am not an actor. I am a doctor telling my own story on a stage. This kind of theatrical format or presentation has been something new in Spain and at the same time it is the reason for its proximity to the public. Also, I would like to say that after the play we always have a debate with the public where they can ask me some questions about the play or about my story. This is an added and differential value that is highly valued among the public.

It is the first time that I will be performing in English, so it represents a great challenge for me.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people who have been interested in allowing this play to leave the borders of Spain.

I Will Celebrate My Death premieres on Friday 2nd June and Saturday 3rd June at 8pm at Spazju Kreattiv in Valletta. More information on