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Strindberg

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A Word On Our Inspiration: BazHomage Time

August having a good (?) time with his guitar and his patented 'hypnotic gaze'. It's a good look, bro.

August having a good (?) time with his guitar and his patented 'hypnotic gaze'. It's a good look, bro.

So. Bazzers, the time has come to write on our raison d’etre (check us out) - it’s Strindberg time! Yep we’re going to dive into the mind of the writer whose work we are adapting for our dreamplay - giving us the perfect excuse to get into the head of the guy who wrote this impossible, existentialist, surrealist theatre gauge that has endured for centuries. Basically, the topic and sub heading of the blog this week is: “who on earth could have possibly come up with this?”

Hoy. We’ll do our best!

Well! Someone, creative, damaged and a touch fragile, for one. A Dream Play follows beautiful, melancholy and naive daughter of the God Indra, known as Agnes. She comes down to observe us, UFO style, and our earth-y ways. She is left wanting. To sort of get back up there to the mansion in the clouds and away quick sharp. Quelle Surprise (we like quoting in French a lot lately, go with it)  In essence, the human condition comes under the microscope and uncomfortable truths are borne out of the typical human experience: an marriage going sour, a dead end job, waiting in vain, forever trapped in a unrequited love. Not so subtle there, August bro. But still, the human condition (i.e in bad shape) has long inspired great thinkers and writers of the age, why should August be any different?
 

Why indeed? Well, it seems there was never any choice: he was destined to be an artist. After some research, it’s clear to see that August Strindberg reaches those lofty, dusty heights of the shelves labelled ‘Tortured Genius’  where his ideas are regularly dusted off and his words shaken from their pages into some melting pot or another (maybe we are spending too much time with this play…) His popularity was not as widespread as Ibsen or Chekov, fellow writers and his contemporaries, enjoying modest success at best. Still, they didn’t enjoy a period of  posthumous popularity Strindberg did - with various Miss Julies popping up all over these isles in recent years. There’s not been that many A Dream Plays though - therefore, enter Baz. Pursued by a bear, fairy and the living daughter of a divine being. It’s just that sort of play, guys. So - we know how he could have written it, but why?

Having suffered a sickly early childhood as part of a global cholera outbreak, parts of it in lonely and enforced quarantine, the hospital and his quarantine bed are a motif he uses throughout his canon of work but particularly in A Dream Play as a means to portray unrest, torture or, in this particular play, a kind of hellish limbo. August, now a grown man riddled with unchecked maladies and disorders - how we would have had him have a chance holiday in Vienna and pop in to see the ‘local’ psychologist and meet Sigmund -he clearly had enough nous to realise the quarantine as a theatrical device. It didn’t stop him from attempting suicide more than once though sadly, the first when he was very young. He had an issue with drink and drug abuse and was prone to fits of whimsy, and fantasy.

Tortured genius? Tick.

Albeit one with an excellent work ethic. After abandoning his childhood hobby of tearing all the worldly goods his family owned in order to become an ‘inventor’ he discovered books, education, and later, art and women - and was all ‘Wheel what?’ and ‘electric generator who?’. He then fell in with a crowd of philosophers, writers, poets and atheists, and probably lounged around going ‘woe is me’ with a cup of coffee in one hand and a glass of wine and a cigarette in the other. After successfully wooing his first wife in love letters of several languages (show off) and comparing their love to Cleopatra and Marc Antony, he found the theatre. And the rest is theatre history. A Dream Play premiered in April 1907, with his then third wife, actress Harriet Bosse, who had also endured a long wooing campaign by Strindberg, as Agnes. In truth, we should be thankful for the campaign as in the process she became his sole inspiration for Agnes. In our eyes, she belongs wholeheartedly within the pantheon of famous turn of the century tragic heroines such as Hedda Gabler in Ibsen’s seminal play and of Masha in Chekov’s Three Sisters - bright, beautiful and innocent - cruelly lampooned by fate and a harsh society. Sounds familiar.

In the great scheme of things, it seems like A Dream Play was just another title and another opening night in Strindberg’s bibliography, overshadowed by it’s big sister, the loud and controversial Miss Julie, banned in England until 1939. He is also well known and respected   for his artwork, novels and writings, with Agnes and Co somewhat relegated to only the most hardcore Strindberg elite. No elite present in his time though, as on his death in May 1912,  having inspired parades and acclaim in his home country of Sweden for his achievements in his lifetime, ten thousand people followed his coffin. Incredible devotion for a writer and creative thinker, let alone advocate of experimental theatre.

Stories and entertainment for all, featuring a clear message, often quite left-wing leaning, strong women, forward thinking ideas and experimental flavours. Sounds familiar to us here at Baz - a match made in heaven, not Earth. And we can’t wait.

Dream Big and don’t do anything Strindberg wouldn’t do

(Seriously guys)

Love,

Baz x

 

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Sweet Dreams Are Made of Serotonin: Baz Science Lesson No. 2

Arthur Wardle, RBA Fellow, 1894. Incidentally, how we expect you to feel after reading our latest blog. 

Arthur Wardle, RBA Fellow, 1894. Incidentally, how we expect you to feel after reading our latest blog. 

Hello again Bazzers! It’s time for us to delve yet again into the murky world of sleep, dreams and just exactly why you keep dreaming of a cactus in a sombrero dancing to ‘Walking in the Air’ by Aled Jones (actually there is nothing we can do to help you with that, you might be on your own there: we suggest you get that sorted. Pronto.) But it is weird isn’t it? It’s not just us – right? Sort of lying unconscious, sort of paralysed, for at least eight hours, Every night.

Freaked out yet?

Well never fear – Baz and our resident brain-box PJ are back with facts about sleep that are more awesome than the cool side of the pillow – so settle down under the blanket with your hot water bottle and your CD of whale noises and let us tell you all about it…So. What is sleep? We all spend, people have theorised, a third of our entire lives doing it. Even educated fleas do it. (Sorry) Basically, it’s a restorative natural impulse, and good night will usually encompass the three states/cycles in the brain and set you up for the day: Wakefulness (where your brain bids you a good night, releases Orexin neurons to moan at you if you decide to just watch one more episode of Homeland) Rapid Eye Movement (when your eyes are going crazy and you are literally all up in that high speed car chase with Scooby Doo) to Non-Rapid Eye Movement  (that weird Inception-like place where not much is happening but what is, is confusing – sorry Chris Nolan, bit harsh?)  It’s in that REM state though, that the drama happens – REM Behaviour Disorders, or sleepwalking/fighting/Irish dancing occur, and the normal state of paralysis is completely bypassed. There’s also the cheery prospect of Narcolepsy, or Sleep Apnea – two disorders that greatly affect the individual’s life in ways that show just how important and all-pervading sleep can be.

Of course, there are your bog-standard Nightmares too – and this is what Baz is particularly interested in with our Dream Play – it is one of the few things like breathing, laughing and crying that we all share, sure, but you can’t tell Baz that you’ve not had that naked at school/embarrassing dream about a teacher episode. Well, it can go even deeper than that, and into something called Dream Reality Confusion – which , like it suggests, can make things get really weird. And lucid. To which we here at Baz say – awesome. And “can you write that down for us?”
 

This kind of information, this science, is just as important to Baz’s vision as the work it produces for the simple reason that it’s fascinating –  kind of miraculous and every day simultaneously, providing real insight into what it means to be human on an individual basis: subconscious desire, an unknown ambition, an anxitety you just don’t face during the day – and it is one of our main aims to provide enlightened, important and educational work to our audiences. Even about sleep. Plus is cool to know that the Melatonin chemical is the fun one, and the Serotonin one wakes you up. Pull that out at dinner parties.
 

Most interestingly, however, these cycles of different sleep patterns occur roughly every hour and a half, signalling the next big change. Ninety minutes. Kind of like the length of a play…

 

Just leaving that there.

Sleep well! Dream it up! (Baz dreamt of lighthouses all last night. No matter the situation.  Callback to Aldeburgh last year where Baz devised Dream Play in around the South Lookout at HighTide, perhaps?  Nonetheless, it did make a nice feature of that leisure centre, though.)

Sleep tight! (anyone else suddenly really sleepy now?)

 

And thanks again to the Almighty PJ making our lives, blogs and dreams just that little bit easier to understand.

 

Baz x
 

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Shrinking, Slips, Strindberg - Baz goes Clever

We'd like to take a minute to see if you can make up a short story using just those three words - it may reveal something latent...

Ever had a dream you’ve never understood? So have we. But never fear:  Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung are here to make us feel really weird about it! Okay, that might be a bit obtuse, but these two men, just stepping clear of the 1800s , commendably took us two steps forward in understanding psychology, consciousness and self– and unsurprisingly a few steps back with attitudes to women - shakes fist – but, though a no-good pair of scamps, they did a lot in their collective fields to change attitudes to psychology. As we prepare the next outing of our half folk-story half-nightmare take on Strindberg’s Dream Play, we thought we’d indulge in a little light head-shrinking. Oh yes, hold on: This is a Baz-is-going-clever-Blog, with the amazing, super-smart help and brain of Bazzer, our very own PJ! Oh yes, we are taking this seriously. Strap in.

Sit yourself down, can you elaborate on why you think your mother is a hamster? / Freud's        real couch in Vienna at the Freud museum.   

Sit yourself down, can you elaborate on why you think your mother is a hamster? / Freud's        real couch in Vienna at the Freud museum.

 

One thing the Jung and Freud camps seem to agree on (those yearly get-togethers must be really really fun) is the idea that dreams mean stuff. (Bear with us, we’re easing into this ‘clever’ stuff) more specifically (told you) wish fulfilment – this sounds like Aladdin etc, but basically its your subconscious calling out your repression, your hidden desire to resolve something or a latent desire to act on a wish that we usually have a better handle on in the sunlight. Jung raised Freud one further though and introduced the idea of Archetypes into the game: for example the mother-son archetype, the husband-wife – all wrapped up in a nice package of the Collective Unconscious – or, Social Expectations. Baz, as a rule doesn’t have much time for these Expectations and likes to subvert them when we can – experimental theatre and all that, but the fact that Jung wants you to experience your displeasure, confront your desire, your want or resentment – now you’re talking our language.

Freud’s language and imagery for interpreting dreams goes hand in hand with practicing theatre – the idea that the dream is a wish fulfilment or rehearsal for the real thing – it’s nearly too neat: Freud’s theories of signifiers for example, an image or symbol that pops up in your dreams with multiple possible rationalisations, in disguise, if you will and requires a closer look to be interpreted. In a dream state you’re clearly watching the action, taking in a scene and participating – and is there nothing closer to the act of being an audience member and interpreting the action onstage? He may have been onto something, this Freud bloke.

But then Jung had to throw his spanner in the works (if you read into that, shame on you) and asserted that his Archetypes relay much of the information of repressed thoughts, desires or wants through a set of what he called dream ‘symbols’ or ‘figures’. An innocuous object like a cane or snake could be…interpreted as, er, something else. (you see where we are going with this, move on) much as an old woman, or a shadow have a specific attributed meaning, in the theatre world this puts Baz in mind of Brecht’s Stock Characters he used in his writing – and our assertion that an audience must first understand what we are subverting before we subvert it.

Phew. Make sense? No, to us either. But it is just fascinating to learn about and adapt to our theatrical processes. Our take on Dream Play relies on that universal experience of dreaming, being outside yourself looking in, that intense, often frightening, often joyful experience of feeling so purely. We’ve all experienced it:  it crosses,cultural, linguistic and generational divides. And it can be pretty freaky to be trapped in a game of Super Mario I think we all can agree.

Oh man, after all that knowledge let us destress with a bit of psyche-comedy: Mr Stephen Fry’s joke-non-joke on QI: (p.s slightly NSFW)

Keep on dreamin'

Baz xx

Really, really thanks to PJ for all her hard work and knowledge- the kind of clever where you're not intimidated but want to start reading all books immediately x

 

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