In the first of a regular series taking us behind the rehearsal room door, writer and director Sarah Bedi shares her thoughts on creating the complex world of dreamplay, opening in September at The Vaults in London.
Day two of rehearsals for dreamplay. Day two of playing, experimenting and feeling our way towards a complex dream-world that already feels endlessly surprising and unnerving. It’s early days yet and already some ‘rules of play’ are emerging from the room. We’ll keep adding to these as rehearsals progress until finally, we have a complete set of guidelines … but for now this is where we are at:
Rule #1: The parameters of our dreamplay are the same as those set out by Strindberg in 1907 in the preface to his A Dream Play:
“The characters split, double, multiply, evaporate, condense, dissolve and merge. But one consciousness rules them all: the dreamer’s; for him there are no secrets, no inconsistencies, no scruples and no laws. He does not judge or acquit, he merely relates; and because a dream is usually painful rather than pleasant, a tone of melancholy and compassion for all living creatures permeates the rambling narrative.”
Rule #2: The audience is the dreamer. We are in their subconscious. In a dream every person you meet is part of you; they must be as there is only your subconscious. Therefore every character our audience meets is also themselves, we are all part of the same consciousness. As the audience is the dreamer, it is to them the adventure happens.
Rule #3: There is a transaction with the character Daughter/Agnes: we become her and she becomes us. Daughter/Agnes/Audience goes on a quest to find out why humans suffer. We encounter suffering in various guises. Fear. Shame. Rejection. Loss. Anxiety. It’s everywhere, and it repeats. Endlessly. Perhaps this is human existence.
Rule #4: Everything in the space is live. Everything is physical. Nothing is ‘pre-made’ and therefore nothing is ‘pre-decided’ or ‘pre-determined’. Where possible, lighting is made through practicals operated by performers. Actors change characters in front of us, and we don’t rely on theatrical ‘tricks’. The magic is a different sort of magic that happens in front of us and with us. It’s open and generous and present.
Rule #5: In a dream anything can happen. This is not a get out clause. In the seeming chaos, there needs to be order – even if it’s order of a different kind. Dreams are made up of feelings, thoughts and the fragments of everyday waking life. There is still a structure of sorts: perhaps a spongy, bendy, illogical sort of structure, but it’s still a structure.
Rule #6: A dream is open to interpretation: there is no single ‘true’ reading of a dream. dreamplay is equally open to interpretation: there is no single ‘true’ reading of dreamplay. This is a show that is experienced through the body as much as it is through the mind. It is not an intellectual experience, nor is it didactic. We aim to give the audience a bunch of dots and leave them free to join them however they want. Some will guess at our intentions, others will create their own story/meaning. Both are valid and right.
dreamplay runs at The Vaults, London 10 September to 1 October 2016
For more information visit www.thevaults.london