Bedtime Stories is a poem for the senses. It creates an immersive space, the bedroom of Sonia, an insomniac poet, who stays awake through the night, writing, her thoughts running over each other, blurring the line between stories and dreams. The audience comes to know her in an intimate, personal way through sharing the sensory experience of her world and the physiological and emotional experience of insomnia. Sonia is present in the space through the traces she has left there, the sounds and smells, the books she reads when she cannot sleep, and her writings. The public reads her words while experiencing for themselves the sensory conditions that inspired them. This shared sensory experience can go beyond description or representation of her world, to a connection with its felt essence.
The installation was my Graduation project for the MFA, Scenography at the Frank Mohr Institute. It aimed to find a home for the methodology that developed from my theoretical and practical research. This explored light as a sensory medium, and the use of the non-visual qualities of light in theatre design in shaping the relationship between the audience and the stage. Bedtime Stories creates an immersive sensory world to be experienced by one person at a time. The installation uses light, sound, texture, temperature and smell to create a sensory scenography. The audience receive no verbal instructions when entering the space, and the specific order and timing of the various sensory inputs are used to subtly guide them though the space.
The installation applies research into the non-visual and biological effects of light. It is designed to trigger specific physiological responses in the audience, enabling them to experience a state equivalent of insomnia; in which the body recognises that it is night and feels a desire to sleep, while simultaneously both the body and mind are placed in a highly alerted state that prohibit sleep. The installation engages the audience’s whole body perception, and connects these physiological light effects to the dramaturgy of the piece. Together the text, light, sound, smell and scenographic elements create an atmospheric, sensory journey that invite the audience to experience for themselves the world of Sonia.
“Mesmerising. I felt like I was walking in your memory.” Hadassa Smit
Premier June 25th, 2013, Grand Theater, Groningen.