An Italian actor has been declared dead after a hanging scene apparently went horribly wrong. Raphael Schumacher, 27, was taking part in a live theater performance of "Mirages" at the Teatro Lux in Pisa, Italy, last Saturday when a spectator found him unconscious. The Washington Post reports the play was viewed in sections in different parts of the theater with audience members moving between scenes. A single spectator watched in a courtyard as Schumacher recited a monologue about the angst of a 15-year-old boy, stepped on a cube, and placed his head in a noose hanging from a fig tree, reports Il Tirreno. A medical school graduate—it isn't clear if she was the original spectator—then saw Schumacher's body twitching and rushed to help, reports ANSA News.
Schumacher—who never regained consciousness and was declared brain-dead at a local hospital on Thursday, per the BBC—changed the original ending of the scene, which was supposed to involve a gun, says a Teatro Lux manager. "Raphael changed it without telling us." But a prosecutor says the scene "was performed successfully earlier on Saturday evening, when he ended the scene laying his head in the noose." Schumacher's family members don't believe it was suicide. "His father died recently and he had just broken up with someone, but he had soon regained inner peace," his mom says. Two directors and two stage technicians are now under investigation for manslaughter. Schumacher's organs will be donated per his family's wishes. (Other celebrities have died while performing.)