Waking 1.0 SLEEP/WAKE

The Print Factory, in The NZ Fringe Festival, Wellington. Jan 31 – Feb 10, 2008
Auckland Town Hall, for the Auckland Festival. March 7 -11, 2009
Official Selection: World Stage Design, Seoul. September 19 – 30, 2009

Best Production Design, Most Outstanding Performer, NZ Fringe Festival 2008
Gold Award, Designer’s Institute of NZ BeST Awards, 2009

Dance, theatre, and design collide with science in this collaboration between Massey University’s Sleep/Wake Research Centre and The Playground NZ Ltd, directed by performance designer Sam Trubridge. The Playground’s previous work The Restaurant of Many Orders opened at London’s Sadler’s Wells in 2004, and continued with acclaimed seasons in Italy and New Zealand. Sleep/Wake is part performance-art installation, and part dance work. The production features mesmerising new choreography, original music, evocative lighting, live video, and a dynamic set design of moving architecture, spinning beds, and liquid surfaces. The work was developed in close collaboration between the company and renowned sleep scientist Professor Philippa Gander from the Research Centre: using science and performance to investigate the worlds of the sleeping body. Says director Sam Trubridge: “When we sleep, we don’t perform.  But the moment we wake up, we enter the world again.  We start to put on our costumes, our make-up, building ourselves up until we’re ready to face the world again, and ready to take the stage.” Sleep/Wake begins with a performer asleep on stage. Then the few minutes that it takes our bodies to go from sleeping to waking are expanded to explore various physical, political and metaphoric awakenings. This story of an awakening explores that which lies dormant within us: things that our masks hide from our waking lives: hidden performances of the self, paranoias, chimeras, obsessions, anxieties, ambitions, and dreams. Through the languages of movement, image, and science a unique journey begins: into the unknown territory of sleep, where we spend one third of our lives.

SLEEP/WAKE in Auckland's Town Hall for the Auckland Festival 2009 (photo: Richard Robinson)

Waking 2.0 ON MY SIDE

Presented and installed in the ‘Arts and Science: Exploring the Limits of Human Perception Conference’, at the Centro de Sciencias de Benasque, Spain. July 12 – 16, 2009

On My Side was a durational work documented over the month prior to attending the Benasque conference. Over this time Philippa Gander and Sam Trubridge committed to wearing actigraph watches (measuring movement and the cycles of sleeping and wake) and photographing their beds each morning upon rising. This data was then collated on two four-metre long banners that were hung in the stairwell of the Science Centre for the duration of the conference. These banners constructed a dialogue between two different sleep patterns, whilst also creating an intervention in the environment that descended three levels of the building. The abstract forms of the actigraphy and the twisted bed sheets in the photographs created an impression of lives in constant motion throughout sleeping and waking. This new work has been a significant development in the collaboration, since it has taken form through a very different process from the Sleep/Wake theatre project. The data gathered, and its mode of presentation, has provided something that operates both as a scientific document of the collaboration as well as a creative artifact.

Waking 3.0 SLEEPLESS

Arts and Science conference, Centro de Sciencias de Benasque, Spain. July 14 – 15, 2009
Glitch performance and media arts event, St Paul Street Gallery, Auckland, NZ. November 28, 2009

Sleep is the very antithesis of performance. As an absence of responsive action and external awareness it contradicts the paradigms of self-presentation. The sleeping body is unaware of the demands that a self-conscious body responds to, and remains sentient only in the sense that its faculties and consciousness are turned completely inward. Put under scrutiny, the involuntary act of ‘going to sleep’ escapes the performing body. The sleepless body waits for that moment of release, when the mask will slide from its face, the muscles relax, and the breathing slows. Sleepless explored a germinal concept from the Sleep/Wake theatre project: that sleep is the opposite of performance, and is therefore unperformable. Sam Trubridge sleeps attached to polysomnographic recording equipment. A projector casts polysomnographic data onto a screen positioned behind the bed. Like the Sleep/Wake theatre project, this work shares the technology and science of sleeping with the general public. The lack of explanation, and its placement in a public space, renders it an object of discussion among people who come across it. Seeing a body asleep in this way, one witnesses the vulnerability of the sleeping condition, the body without guises, and without agendas. Upon waking, the relation between this body and the people outside becomes once again knowing, self-conscious, and awkward.

SLEEPLESS at St Paul's Street Gallery, 2009 (photo: Sama Yousif)

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