Spotlight On… Director of dreamplay, Sarah Bedi

dreamplay is at The Vaults until 1 October 2016. Tickets are available from £14 from http://www.thevaults.london 

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Sarah Bedi is director of dreamplay which has opened at The Vaults, 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.

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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

 

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Spotlight On… Actress, Hannah Norris

CUT by Duncan Graham 
The Vaults Theatre, Launcelot Street, London SE1 7AD

Tuesday 5th – Sunday 31st July 2016

Tickets are available from £12.50 from http://www.thevaults.london/#!cut/c1e1t.  

Hannah Norris is undertaking the task of performing in the London premiere of CUT at The Vaults this July. She’s already performed the role in this dramatic and powerful play from the pen of Duncan Graham. I chatted to Hannah to find out what the audience can expect from this extraordinary piece.

Please tell me about CUT and what your first impression was of the script and the concept.

CUT is a 60-minute poetic, intense theatre work to be performed by one woman. It was inspired by Greek sources, the likes of Clytemnestra, Medea, and Atropos of the Three Fates. It’s written by award-winning Australian playwright Duncan Graham. It’s about fear and threat – and in a disjointed way – follows the story of a woman being pursued by a man.

Duncan and I have been friends for a long time and about 6 years ago when I first heard he’d written this one-woman play, I knew I wanted to read it. I thought the title was evocative and when I heard there were moments of total darkness, I was even more intrigued.

When I first read the script, I cried. It’s not a sad story, I don’t think, but I found it very powerful. I was sucked right in to the world of the play. There is a great rhythm to the text, not only in the words but the pauses and blackouts that surround them and the way that the script shifts landscapes, ideas and points of view. Right away I knew I wanted to perform this show.

Hannah
Production shot from CUT

Any highlights from the show? Any poignant moments or favourite scenes?

The blackouts and periods of sensory deprivation the audience experiences is a highlight for me (and them). I can feel the anticipation growing in the audience throughout my introductory speech, and when they get dropped into the first blackout – it’s very exciting. My favourite experience of the work is when I can feel the audience on side, and going on the journey of the play with me. Also surprising the audience from scene to scene.

What sort of audience reactions have you received for the piece, previously?

For our rehearsals, Duncan and I spent a lot of time in a small, windowless room trying things out, exploring the theatrical language we were going to use and ways to tell the story of CUT. I was terrified before my first performance and greeting the audience as they came into the room because they looked like such a general public audience and we weren’t sure if we’d made something really weird or arty and how non-theatre people would respond to it but they loved it. Absolutely loved it.

Because of the total darkness in the show, the audience are warned that if they want to leave the performance the show will stop, they’ll be escorted out and unable to return. We have had people do this a handful of times and in Adelaide a reviewer had to leave in the introduction because he was claustrophobic and terrified of what was in store.

Audiences certainly feel the threat and fear that is alive in the piece.

Do you suffer from nerves before a performance and what do you do to combat this?

I mostly feel nervous if I feel unprepared for something. I operate the sound and lights for CUT in performance with a remote control device that my technical director, Sam Hopkins, invented for this show. And the first preview in Edinburgh last year was pretty nerve-wracking as it was such a new idea to use it and I didn’t feel fully confident with it yet. My main way through nerves is with breathing and focus. To try and still my mind by deepening my breath, and probably shaking out my body a bit. And to trust that I know what I’m doing. It can be challenging sometimes though.

Any advice for budding actors?

Follow your dreams.

If you want to do musicals, make sure you take dance classes – that was a surprise to me when I started auditioning, that the first stage of musical audition was the dance and you had to get through that before they looked at your singing or acting and dancing was my weakest of those skills. So make sure you can dance if you want to do musicals.

Also, just go for it. Read plays, watch films, put on your own shows, be in fringe shows, care about the world, and if you want to do it, don’t have a back-up plan – try and make it work first and then look for other options if it doesn’t work out. But don’t let it beat you before you even start.

What would you say to encourage potential audience members to attend?

That CUT is an unforgettable experience. You go inside the world of the play. It is immersive, but not like the larger scale kinds of immersive theatre that are around at the moment, but in that you are right inside and close to the performer, the action, the ideas – and it’s dark and scary. It’s definitely still entertaining though. So come!

Thanks to Hannah for a great interview, ground-breaking theatre by the sound of it!

 

Feature photo credit: Dominic Marley

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