Thursday, 23 June 2016

Bedtime Dramaturgy: Vicki Amedume @ Edfringe 2016

Celebrate the magical time of the day when the stresses and strains of life melt away and enter a world of imagination and dreams with Bedtime Stories.


Tucked up with your family and friends in a bedroom installation, unwind and be dazzled by circus, theatre, dance and projections.

Vicki Amedume – (Artistic Director) – Bedtime Stories, Upswing

What was the inspiration for this performance?
My love of stories most definitely comes from my mother.  When I was a child my mum often had to work nights.  Whilst at work she would record tapes of stories for us to listen to the next night so we could still have our bedtime stories.  

It was our little tradition and those times tucked up with my brother and sister and listening to my mum’s voice guide us into sleep were some of my most cherished childhood memories.  The tapes were her way of staying present with us even though the necessities of life meant she had to be away from us.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
Upswing worked with creative producing company Time Won’t Wait to kickstart the process and select a brilliant team of devising performers and our co-writer. 

The development of the piece happened in stages and at the end of each stage I would sit back and think what is missing?  What skills do I need to get to the next step?  In this way we gathered a pretty incredible creative team as we progressed through research and development phases.

How did you become interested in making performance?
I started my circus career as a performer and after a while, I realised that the shows I was involved with didn’t allow me to experiment and explore the themes and ideas that were close to my heart.  Upswing began as an outlet for my creative exploration.  
It was driven, initially, by the desire to experiment with form and physicality.  

That experimentation continues today but it is now very much driven by a desire for communication.  I am interested in work where form, context and content allows people to see the experiences of others from a different perspective and gives them space to reflect on their own experiences in relation.  

In Bedtime Stories we created a playful and immersive context for families of all kinds to have a moment to be together and watch a story that may have resonance with their own lives.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
This is a very interesting question… I think we can say that making Bedtime Stories crystallised a process we tried out during the development of our previous piece What Happens in the Winter.  

We’ve taken learning from a variety of different artistic practices and applied them to circus based work.  It has led to a particular process that involves a circular exchange between our professional artists and the people we want to reach. 

We often start our research with a question, or try to find people who will help us maybe not answer the question, but at least come to a deeper understanding of why we are interested in asking the question in the first place.  

The inspiration to make normally comes from the exchange we have with these people.  We work with professionals to build on those ideas and images and then share the work back to the people we worked with to discover it still resonates…

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
We hope that families will spend a magical moment together and take some of it back home. This show is a gentle reminder of the importance of taking a moment and being present. 

We want to give the audience a memorable experience, for them to have fun but we also want to reach them emotionally whilst entertaining them.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
The first thing was how to make the audience feel as comfortable as they would be at home and seating everyone in beds under fluffy blankets seemed to the perfect way to recreate the familiar. 

We also wanted to really invite the audience to experience the physicality up close so we decided to work in the round to create an immersive experience. 

I also wanted to build narratives that both children and adults would connect with so I had to carefully test out which forms would work together to achieve this; at times, circus is dominant but we also ended up using projections and sound recording to deliver the story.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
Upswing is constantly experimenting and we work across art forms so it is hardly traditional.  You might be able to frame this piece within magical realism. Although a literary genre, this describes Bedtime Stories quite well.  But with new work we discover an aesthetic that makes sense for that piece.  Ultimately we aspire to make work that resonates with the audience and stems from real experiences but we give ourselves licence to leave naturalism behind and stretch reality in anyway circus will allow.

Circus Hub, The Lafayette 4 – 22 August 2016 (not 15) 2.30pm (3.30pm) 

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