One summer a bunch of fellow students from various disciplines got together and created the "Dreams" exhibition at the Shoreditch Town Hall basement. A maze of small rooms, nooks and crannies with unexpected architectural Victorian details, ancient stoves and other relics of a complicated past. The rooms are dark and mysterious. My impression of this space is broadly coloured by my first visit during an Edgar Allan Poe exhibition which, as you can imagine, was rather haunted.
Our collective starting point was 'dreams' and any number of definitions could apply. And with so many different creative types coming together the results were broad and varied.
My idea sprang from the site, dark and enclosed. I wanted to juxtapose this atmosphere with a bright and open film, with shots of the outdoors and travel. Though I wanted these scenes to be disjointed and dreamlike with no real characters, only a variety of images looped and confused, like real dreams.
The character of the dreamer came next, the physical manifestation of the dreamer's portrayal of herself is honest and without filters. She is trapped in the room of her mind where the audience can come in and view her character stuck in this endless loop of dreams. Her reaction's are very visceral, almost childlike in the clear emotive responses, which are just as disjointed as the dream itself. I ended up playing this character, who else would do this for a week on the half hour for free? I also reacted to the audience, weaving around them and reacting to their intrusion into the room of my mind in order to bring them into the dream world.
The set was minimal, a single wooden chair with plants and dirt under the chair, an echo of the dream manifesting in her 'mind' space. There was a light under the chair to bring focus and gravitas to its placement and to illuminate the vegetation. This vegetation, both real and fake, also showed up along the edging of the door, the exit to the real world. My costume was a dress created from various cream and white fabrics pieced together and pleated paper, which slowly disintegrates, on the bodice. The colour palette of the film and the flower in my hair links to the vegetation in the room and connects both to the film which provides a contrast to the stark dark atmosphere of the basement. A comment on the reality vs. the dream world.
The film itself was made up of a very bright nature/ playful images vs the city, shown through a journey in the tube/arcade. This echoing my readings of Walter Benjamin's ideas of the wandering pedestrian. The approach to the chair in the beginning of the film echoes the girl already sitting in the same chair in the room. Real life events are echoed in the dream world but skewed. Another image is my 'dream' self disappearing from the screen and the real girl looks wildly around the room, logic has no place in this dream world. The childlike aspects are repeated with the swings and slides which are welcomed with joy and playfulness in contrast to the packed tube which is reacted to with fear. I tried to bridge the gap between the 'dream' world and the 'dreamer' with direct reactions and even using the projected image as a 'set'. Like when the train arrived I joined the queue on the platform as we waited for the train.
With this approach to the set as well as the interaction with the audience I hoped to bring them into my dream wold and to have them become a participant rather than a passive viewer, something they naturally resisted and thus seemed to prefer to watch the film. This project later led to my work on Martin Crimp. See here.
A video of the project here.