Sarah Bedi is director of dreamplay, now running at The Vaults until 1 October 2016. I chatted to Sarah about the production.
Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Sarah, can you tell me about the production and what your vision was for the piece?
The production is a response to Strindberg’s A Dream Play – we’ve used his writing as a starting point – as a means to explore modern life. I wanted to devise a play through writing and where the audience felt like they were the dreamer. Making allegories and narratives out of dreams is a common theme – this production seeks to offer dreamlike images on a modern life.
How has it translated from page to stage?
We started with some intense r&d on Strindberg’s play, and found a surprisingly modern 1901 existentialist piece. Some research into the interpretation of dreams via Freud and Jung followed, as well as revisiting some pop culture touchstones in terms of dreams and the unreal: Charlie Kaufman, David Lynch, and the film, The Lobster. Some photographers too- Gregory Crewdson, Tom Hunter: dreamy, atmospheric images that helped shape our visual elements. I wrote a rehearsal draft that evolved through rehearsal to provide a lot of room for improvisation, ultimately, we have landmarks we hit in each scene. The goal is that it will hopefully feel alive and new every night. Being in the space this week has really helped, the audience being so intrinsic to it will fully shape the piece.
What do you hope the audience will take away with them?
I hope they feel as if they’ve had a personal, unique experience, and the sense that we’ve tried to answer the hardest questions that a human can face. I believe that, to a certain extent was Strindberg’s aim with the original dreamplay – highlighting the futility of the concept of life – and that we have updated that for in these short, often exhilarating moments occurring in different corners of the Vaults. The moments of provocation and intimacy and celebration are in there too as a celebration and a lament on the human condition.
How does the space lend itself to the piece?
The Vaults is a challenging space and it is rubix cube of opportunities. It’s also a massive credit to dreamplay and feels a character in the play on its own merit – it feels right that we can hear the train above. That space feels so Other and seeps into the action, in every space we lead our action to, much like a dream. I am writing this in a café in Waterloo station on the concourse and finding it strange to think we are based underneath this hubbub and symbol of modern life– like the subconscious under the conscious. By the same token it’s some awesome big ass tunnels to get lost in and almost illegal amounts of fun.
What is your advice for budding directors?
A few projects back in 2011 at an annual Baz meeting at the Southbank Centre, faced with the trials and tribulations of our first foray into experimental theatre, someone simply said “let’s just do it.”- it’s become something of a motto. We’re not edging on Nike’s court here but it’s useful to note. There is no set way into the job – for us, is was a case of creating the opportunities to make the work we wanted to make. It’s hard at the moment, with the current economic deal under this government– it was always a slog, but it’s important to surround yourself with like-minded people and play to your strengths. Don’t forget to take risks and remember: it’s only play-acting!
Finally, what would you say to encourage people to come and watch?
When we drew up our manifesto for Baz back in we stated that we wanted to make event theatre suited to an audience that wants something alive and limitless. Couple this with the extraordinary location of The Vaults and the chance to explore it in unexpected and possibly never before seen ways and we feel we have a multi-faceted performance that we love. In the Vaults we have the best visual metaphor we could have asked for our dreamplay, and beyond that, a chance at a visual exploration of the subconscious as we lead the action through the space. And finally, it is a fact that we spend on average a third of our lives asleep. There is a massive, important and highly active part of our lives that is missing to our everyday experience. We thought, now here is an opportunity.
Thanks to Sarah for a very thorough and fascinating interview.
Photographs courtesy of Cesare De Giglio