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Location, Location, Location: Promenade's Place

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Car Park - Baz's dreamplay, 2016, Laura Moody being amazing on the Cello

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Car Park - Baz's dreamplay, 2016, Laura Moody being amazing on the Cello

Helloo again Bazzers, on this the eve of summer! Could it possibly be true that we are about to get...warm? The evenings are drawing out and it’s a lovely day to be outside - this is promenade weather - and for the uninitiated we ain’t talking about parasols and lace. No, we of course refer to theatre occurring in pub gardens, on roofs, underground train arches, as we found last summer at The Vaults - truly live, truly unpredictable, and truly vulnerable to plane noise, but hey you can’t have everything. We kid, we love those metal birds, who needs soundscapes? *rolls eyes but we love it* 

One of the main things that Baz’s manifesto set out to achieve from the start was accessible theatre, for all - we have massive respect for London’s rich theatre history and it’s theatres - the old and cherished and the new and bold. The only thing is that these beautiful, gold-embellished venues aren’t meant for throwing around paint in and climbing up curtains - the kind of crazy thing we are wont to do - exhibit A being a half-full bathtub being splashed around in every night at The Vaults, that kind of thing- therefore a lot of high profile theatre events tend to stay in the traditional realm, with lots of revivals. And that’s great- far from underestimating our rich theatre and playwriting history, we honour it, we hope, by moving the action to new and unexpected places.

In 2011, we performed Macbeth in a crypt in Holborn, in 2013 the entire Greek Myth canon in a single room in Shoreditch - for us, it’s about taking away as much as possible and seeing  what we can still work with. Great theatre companies like Punchdrunk take over full warehouses, and almost all of the then abandoned Battersea Arts Centre for their projects, marking, we feel, the first shift we felt in the industry away from seeing promenade, experimental theatre as gimmicky or worse, looked down upon. Our most recent production, a version of Strindberg’s dreamplay at the Vaults in London, moved our audience, from courtyard, to stairwell, theatre, to tunnell and beyond, on a scene by scene basis. The majority of our audiences didn’t bat an eyelid about being moved from space to space, sometimes able to sit, sometimes not - Bazzers unite - but those who were being introduced to us, seemed bemused, occasionally annoyed about the upheaval. For us, theatre is a group activity - it’s not sitting with your feet up and eating popcorn - in essence, we don’t want you to be too comfortable, all the time.
 

Er, take that last statement any way you want. We are experimental, after all and that is what we want you to do.

But what remains is the irksome idea that sitting down in a beautiful dark room that is adorned with cherubs is still the standard - Baz loves that stuff more than anyone else, but that’s partly why we made our manifesto in the first place. We of course don’t want to do a disservice to major theatres doing excellent and ground-breaking work, on and off west end - Lucy McCormick’s devilishly entertaining Triple Threat at the Soho is a definite pick - go forth and see it and then never forget it, really just try- but when a member of the Baz Team got to go to a piano recital just recently: where applause is restricted to between movements, coughing is a killing offense and the line between performer and audience has never been so clear: in status, in skill, in tone in such regimental fashion - makes us seem a bit moany over here in Theatreland. Sort it out, classical music concerts. But in all seriousness what do we, and other experimental theatre companies have to sacrifice in order to court the proscenium arch audiences and break through to the mainstream, you ask? Well thank you for asking, but we counter with maybe that it shouldn’t ever be mainstream-ised (is a word, shut up) and that we belong in the weird crowd - discovered by all you delightful weirdos (or Bazzers in this private circle *raises champagne glass*) as you perhaps tell your friends about this bonkers piece of theatre you saw, or you post it online….and maybe that’s the true future of experimental theatre: it’s not, by its nature, there to to earn a place in the prim and proper books of history - it’s meant to be a live, thrown against the wall, one time only event. Truly utopian in nature - anyone can do it! It can happen any place, any where - it’s groovy like that. Viva abandoned cark parks, real parks, fake parks with astroturf, roofs, underground stations, crypts and night clubs in the daytime, your front room - anywhere we can make theatre together... and let’s all arrange to meet back here to see the panto in December.

What do you know. Maybe there’s room for us all - even if you have to stand a little bit. Look at these people, they're loving it! Cheers!


Love,

Baz x

 

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The Lost Blog (The One Where All The Blogs Come Home)

Ahoy Bazlings! 

Hope all is well on good ship Baz, we've certainly had a good week - full of Shakespeare of all kinds: RSC and All Female - and it did not disappoint on any level, forsooth. It got us all fired up for the future though and many an idea has been thrown around while drinking wine (and sometimes those verbs got mixed up, but hey, that's PASSION. And we got a lot of it.)

But as London is literally lit up like a Christmas tree and the air is filled with cinnamon and whatever makes Subway smell so damn delicious, it got us thinking about our bumper year, and like our American cousins, what we are thankful for.

Well, you lot, of course, the lifeblood of the thing, who we write, direct and perform for, and who have loyally stayed by our side up to an including this year with our dream play project, the scale of which we'd never tried. Our casts, old and new that have dug our ideas and manifesto, and with fearlessness always gave it some welly - without their talent, support and continued loyalty we'd be nowhere fast. Our excellent Trio of Cath, Sarah and Emma who gave this thing life, gave it 100% commitment and shared their incredible array of talents and practices so uniquely them to make Baz not something able to be ignored.

And of course, our crew: Stage Manager Libby who you met in our previous blog, our fab producing duo George and Liz and of course our Stage and Set designers Josh and Naoimi who between them on a limited time, budget and just the obstacle of dressing and lighting a concrete tube, a pros arch theatre and a former office, three jobs in one, delivered more than we could possibly ask for: with dedication to the themes and ideas, amazing detail and most importantly a smile and a joke. It was an unmitigated pleasure to work with them, so how better to celebrate Bazgiving with the last of our Look Back Blogs, here's Josh and Naomi JUST as dream play's run ended.

Joshua Gadsby on the visual world of dreamplay.

dreamplay, was a departure for us. A co-design between Naomi Kuyck-Cohen (who specialises in set and costume design) and me, Joshua Gadsby (who specialises in lighting design). We both have a professional background in devised theatre works, movement works and performance art. We were keen to see the impact of removing boundaries in the design process, could the visual language become more visceral and playful?

Naomi and I were really drawn to BAZ's mission to bring theatre that holds a playful core. Theatre that coerces the audience to have a direct relationship with the action unfolding. It’s a delightful provocation for design.

Our work on dreamplay begun around 4 months ago, the journey from page to stage was somewhat unique, a classic text used as a framework for a contemporary response which formed a script, which was then used as a basis for play and exploration in the rehearsal room. We are both very process driven designers that thrive on interrogation and response to the source material (the play, the movement, the image) and this production offered a fantastic opportunity to go on a journey of interrogation with director Sarah Bedi. Strindberg’s A dream pay is a mammoth of a text, almost endless in it’s vivid and changing imagery. Sarah’s interpretation was no different, spanning the vast width and breadth of human suffering. We set about interrogating every image of human suffering within the play, picking apart and looking for common and universal images that could provide a visual language. Being sure not to give too much, as this is not a production seeking to give answers.

After many a site visit it was clear that the the Vaults architecture would become a very looming presence within the play. Trains rumble above, as each new room is architecturally more obscure than the last. Drowning the space in design was the last thing we wanted, we needed a language of simplicity and directness that allowed the audiences to connect with performers, not just watch them. Ultimately, the cavernous, characterful and sometimes absurd Vaults became the springboard for what our dreamscape looked like. We embraced it, it became the floored context that often inhabits our dreams. A bedroom appears in what is almost certainly not a domestic space, a plastic greasy spoon table and chair set sit in on a bare theatre stage and a mystical cellist appears high up in a frame, It’s the unexplainable stuff of dreams. Spacial forms are broken, remade and broken again. dreamplay really does inhabit the vaults.

There is nothing quite as terrifying as entering the first day of rehearsals with only a a white card model box (usually the design is completed and locked down at this point) and a notion of what some of the spacial dynamics will be, but this led to a flexibility and playfulness that meant that we could keep focus on the energy and boldness of the company. Often fleeting and exciting creative discoveries in the rehearsal room are also enabled as a result, a vast and decaying mirror... possibly the most absurd and unexpected image that has come of dreamplay came late in the process, something magical was captured in the rehearsal room and so it became part of our world in the Vaults.

No good ever comes of committing too early. Trust in the process, trust in the playfulness and stay open.

** 17.09.16

Impressive aren't they? And they did so everyday - a new issue, a new obstacle, managing a budget, still managing to be creative and ingenious - we really lucked out, and we see big things on the horizon. Thanks Josh and Naomi! Happy Bazgiving :)

And alas, there endeth the Baz blogs for the dream play era - but never fear, like an overactive child on too much hot chocolate we could rattle on about not much for days, so expect a new blog post soon.

Have a good monday, y'all (we've come over all American) and drink wine and be merry.

….We know it's 1pm, your point? Loads of places do mulled wine, c'mon now...

Big Love,

Baz

xxxx

 

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Voices In Likely Places (You Can't Ignore Them Forever)

 

The above image taken at our Young Director's workshop - the brilliant Liz set the task of asking them to write their thoughts on post its and stick them to pages posing different questions about the production. We got a very colourful theatre floor going on. You just can't see it cos it's in black and white. 

Good morning Bazerinas, we hope this blog finds you well – we certainly are, still wondering if dream play was some wonderful dream that still gives us butterflies. Ah. Don’t expect us to not be mushy for a while yet! But at the same time, the gooey centre that is Baz needs it’s raison d'etre (this talk of chocolate and raisins getting you guys hungry too?)  anyway – it’s proving quite hard to stay positive given current news and politics news – but it’s uncertain, worrying and austere times that art has proven its mettle and proved its here to stay.

It’s so hard to believe that austerity has been around for six years – kids, there was such a thing as money put aside from the arts, and people not meddling in culture ! That’s why we need young voices and talent more than ever and Baz is dedicated to nurturing and providing tools in order to contribute to the health of the arts for the future – Baz Education is just there above on the right and we’ll wait right here for you to check it out and then come back.

Okay?

Good, isn’t it? Okay, it’s brilliant and it’s fine if you haven’t gone, you can do it later but in essence, Baz’s aims and manifesto in our theatre and programming have helped shape our teaching programmes – using the tools we use in rehearsal and performance – from verse and approaching scenes to devising. For key stages 2,3 and 4 these kinds of skills are so useful for not only studies but also vocabulary, wider knowledge but most importantly, personal confidence.  We also tailor our workshops to suit different institutions and levels of study. Cos we’re passionate like that.

During our dream play run at the Vaults, we reached out to young directors, offering them a ticket inclusive with a Q&A with two kind members of the cast, and our director/writer extraordinaire, Sarah – it was led epicly by one of our trainee directors Liz and was such an eye opener to how young people think about theatre: as well as their furtile imaginations and keenness to talk and interact with the production itself through directing exercises, brainstorms and Q&A sessions. That alone was enough to convince us that there is interest, passion and more importantly talent out there we need to nurture more than ever. We also recently visited and talked at the BRIT School for further confirmation that faith in young talent is founded - they have the skills and we need to provide the goods.

We’ve also worked closely with those top top people at Teach First – an organisation that truly puts education at the foremost of its ideals – for all ages, all parts of the country, all nationalities – everyone. The tireless work they put in to this inspires Baz, and also provides us with a framework to adapt our workshops to visit all schools, universities and work spaces we can get to- allowing us to tap into our fantastic actor’s network to lead the workshops we have formed in order to get the message out there by professionals with hands on knowledge of the industry they are talking about. We’ve seen for ourselves that drama techniques and training can give students and teachers alike that extra boost of confidence and skill that makes all the difference, especially through our Teacher INSET education packages. To learn more, take a trip to the top of the page under the lovely banner of Baz Education.

And it’s not just us – various theatre companies, even big buildings like the Old Vic are running programmes that use performance spaces and theatre in the day to help you give that presentation, to help your confidence, to help you imagine and understand that monologue you have to analyse. And we here at Baz dig that, and am so pleased to be part of the movement. So ultimately, are we about to break into Witney Houston song, teach them well and let them lead the way? Well yes, actually, that’s a silly question, but aside from that the arts, our cultural output and identity is being cut year on year, less voices are being given the opportunity to be heard and society can’t advance without arts. That’s why we need to nurture young voices and talent – of which there is no shortage in this country – and support the arts! We smell revolution. You with us??

With a friendly roar, we're off to eat some chocolate raisins.

Love, Baz

 

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The Lost Blogs - An Actor Rehearses. Jack's Blog

Hey hey Dreamers! (We refuse to let go of the dream so what!) Just because the run has ended, doesn't mean that dream has too! Oh yes, we still have content coming out of our ears like a Peter Gabriel Aardman music video (long story) so stay tuned. First up, from week two of rehearsal, actor Jack Wilkinson reflects on the new: cast, rules, games, and freedom. Super interesting to read especially now the run is over…sniff. Don't look at us. Allergies. Anyway, a great blog, take it away Jack!

 

“Just say yes…”

Was actor, Colin Hurley’s response to being asked if he was really going to use a Sainsburys shopping bag as a bathtub.

 

I feel that comment sums up the feel of the room so far in rehearsals for ‘dreamplay’. It’s week two and the atmosphere is just as open and playful as the first – sometimes in a rehearsal processes there comes a point where people want to start to nail things down, even have the answers given to them, but this is a play very much made up of questions rather than answers. What is it to love, to hurt? What is it to dream? And to try and discover these things, I think it’s about creating the right atmosphere in a rehearsal room, one that’s safe for people to “…Say yes.” To be able to try things out and not be afraid to fail.

With dreamplay, we often have all the actors in the rehearsal space at all times, and sure, even though sometimes it may be good to shoot off into a green room, have a brew and learn some lines/check facebook, there is a sense that you’re all building a play together, as an ensemble – watching each other work, adding ideas, picking scenes apart as a company and getting to know the play as a whole not just individual parts. We have an actor who has a clowning piece in the play and instead of being a personal endeavor all of us over the past few weeks have been playing and developing individual clowns.

One of the actors said to me the other day – “It’s like being back at drama school”. I wondered if that felt regressive, but then I’ve never been as brave in my career as I was back then. It is like being back at drama school: large voice and body warm ups, dancing, clowning, large improvisations – and the ability to watch fellow cast members work and be able to learn. It’s one of the things many great performers talk about, that we should never stop learning, but sometimes it’s easy to fall into a place where you feel the need to succeed, impress and ‘get it right’ – a lovely director once told me, “Acting is a very simple thing, made complicated”.

It’s amazing what happens when you’re in a room full of people that are open enough to express how they felt during an exercise or scene. “I felt I was maybe not being as open as could” – “I was probably too polite...” the whole room becomes braver and when somebody makes a discovery, it’s doesn’t panic the rest of the room into believing that they’re behind in their work – but acts as a bar being set, a challenge, something that galvanizes everyone to create.

When I took this project on, somebody said it was maybe too experimental for them – but I think all theatre should be an experiment, a place to explore. And it is a joy to share with the audience. Why do these characters do what they do? What is it like to be human? A question I think we can all have a little say in… and one I’m very much looking forward to trying to answer with audiences at the Vaults.

How about that - even in week two, no shying away from the difficult stuff. And no hint of a Killers lyric in sight (are we dancer? What?) more the first bit: are we human?

We went some way to trying to show that in every light we could. To err is to be human.

To quote is to blog. 

Love you Bazzers, thanks so much on making this run the best yet, your support, your reactions and your donations. You all rock harder than Axel Rose on a Tuesday (we presume he rocks then, may be untrue, but you get the jist!) 

Baz x

/This blog was featured on Reviews Hub.com in Sept 16, and wrongly credited. The words are credited to Jack Wilkinson and should read as above.

 

 

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Dreaming in The Vaults - Pic Collection No.3

Hello again Bazzy Dreamers! We are now at our last week in The Vaults! Can you even believe that! We cannot - time is being weird. Like a dream….*twilight music* ha, anyway. We thought we'd spoil you with some more pics courtesy of the excellent Cesare De Giglio! Check them out below!

Love, Baz xx

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Some more picture-y goodness!

We are spoiling you now, Bazzers

But it's true, the rumours are confirmed - we do have some more excellent pictures from our rehearsal room to share with you! Feast thine eyes below:

Credit as ever, to the superb Cesare De Giglio  © 

 

 

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Flashback Thursday! One of Our excellent Trainee Director's Opens up about the early process...

Good Morning Bazzers!

Do we have a treat for you or what - our first Trainee Director of the project has written us a blog,  postcard from rehearsals all the way back in week one - it's a fascinating read during a week of final rehearsals: to understand and reconnect with the nucleus of the piece, what's changed and what's stayed the same. Thank you Stephen! And we're looking forward to a different experience every night too...

Full of expectation I arrived at the Vatican rehearsal studio for day one of rehearsals for ‘Dreamplay’. “We’ll probably spend the morning sat around a big table, reading the script, drinking coffee and discussing the themes of the play. Bit of uniting, a few games, definitely ‘Zip, Zap, Boing’”. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Following a brief introduction, Sarah led a warm up which involved the company moving around the room, engaging with the space. The warm up was followed by a series of improvisations directly linked to scenes in the play. Exploring the themes and nature of each of them, then discussing how it made us feel, both those taking part in the exercises and those watching.

The rest of the week continued to play out this way, so that by Friday we had looked at every scene. I really enjoyed being involved and seeing this process take shape. It felt like the company had a stronger understanding of each scene, their characters and the play as a whole; a group of fearless, daring performers who took on each challenge with pure enthusiasm and inspiring confidence.

As a trainee director, I assumed that I would spend a lot of the week just watching and observing the process, but instead felt very involved, contributing to discussions and exercises. I even had the opportunity to lead a morning warm up.

It was great observing the work that the company did with movement director Fionn. Seeing them completely let go and use their bodies to translate characters and situations, the physicality of the Clown and the Dancing Girls whilst owning their material and being in the moment. Something that all artists aspire to achieve, but do not always having the space and time to practice and explore.

By the end of the week I could see that all of my expectations were well and truly wrong and I’m so glad they were. I had learned a great deal from Sarah and the company. Even having taken over some stage management tasks, I felt that I had a better understanding of what everyone does. Having worked as an actor for several years and have directed a number of plays myself, this opportunity was a wonderful way to experience work from the other side and observe the many ways and approaches towards text, characters, scenes and production.

I really look forward to seeing the finished piece, well considering a lot will be improvised, a finished piece.

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When we rehearse, we invite a professional photographer along...

Have we got a treat for you! We have done the photographer thing proper and the results are going in personal frames ASAP…unless that's weird. Eh. We don't care. They're that awesome. Props to our guest photographer Cesare De Giglio for capturing the still moments in a very active  and unexpected rehearsal room - and this just proves, as if we ever needed it, that our amazing actors, despite being groovy, talented, brave, clever and generally top, also can't take a bad picture. Thanks, guys. 

© Cesare De Giglio 

Dream Team Collective. After this, we're starting a 90s R'n'B group.

dreamplay is at The Vaults, September 10th - 1st October, 2016. 

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Signals from the Blog-as-phere...

Ahoy! We are fully on the good ship Baz's dreamplay, and already nearing the end of the penultimate week of rehearsals! This is both bonkers and exciting, Bazzers. As ever we are loving exploring, playing and improvising our way through Strindberg's landscape, armed to the teeth with excellent acting talent at every turn, and with Sarah Bedi in the captain's hat/director's chair - the job is a good 'un. Seriously, guys. We've seen some of it. Dreamy stuff. 

In honour of this excellent  and immersive process, the arts review site Reviews Hub asked our director for her thoughts and 'rules' of engagement in the rehearsal space. Ask and ye shall receive some great comments and soundbites and witticisms that make us feel all grown up and knowledgeable, which we totally are. Got a badge and everything. Anyway, read on for some knowledge, some reflections and some thoughts. Well done, Cap'n!

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In the first of a regular series taking us behind the rehearsal room door, writer and director Sarah Bedi shares her thoughts on creating the complex world of dreamplay, opening in September at The Vaults in London.

Day two of rehearsals for dreamplay. Day two of playing, experimenting and feeling our way towards a complex dream-world that already feels endlessly surprising and unnerving. It’s early days yet and already some ‘rules of play’ are emerging from the room. We’ll keep adding to these as rehearsals progress until finally, we have a complete set of guidelines … but for now this is where we are at:

Rule #1: The parameters of our dreamplay are the same as those set out by Strindberg in 1907 in the preface to his A Dream Play:

“The characters split, double, multiply, evaporate, condense, dissolve and merge. But one consciousness rules them all: the dreamer’s; for him there are no secrets, no inconsistencies, no scruples and no laws. He does not judge or acquit, he merely relates; and because a dream is usually painful rather than pleasant, a tone of melancholy and compassion for all living creatures permeates the rambling narrative.”

Rule #2: The audience is the dreamer. We are in their subconscious. In a dream every person you meet is part of you; they must be as there is only your subconscious. Therefore every character our audience meets is also themselves, we are all part of the same consciousness. As the audience is the dreamer, it is to them the adventure happens.

Rule #3: There is a transaction with the character Daughter/Agnes: we become her and she becomes us.Daughter/Agnes/Audience goes on a quest to find out why humans suffer. We encounter suffering in various guises. Fear. Shame. Rejection. Loss. Anxiety. It’s everywhere, and it repeats. Endlessly. Perhaps this is human existence.

Rule #4: Everything in the space is live. Everything is physical. Nothing is ‘pre-made’ and therefore nothing is ‘pre-decided’ or ‘pre-determined’. Where possible, lighting is made through practicals operated by performers. Actors change characters in front of us, and we don’t rely on theatrical ‘tricks’. The magic is a different sort of magic that happens in front of us and with us. It’s open and generous and present.

Rule #5: In a dream anything can happen. This is not a get out clause. In the seeming chaos, there needs to be order – even if it’s order of a different kind. Dreams are made up of feelings, thoughts and the fragments of everyday waking life. There is still a structure of sorts: perhaps a spongy, bendy, illogical sort of structure, but it’s still a structure.

Rule #6: A dream is open to interpretation: there is no single ‘true’ reading of a dream. dreamplay is equally open to interpretation: there is no single ‘true’ reading of dreamplay. This is a show that isexperienced through the body as much as it is through the mind. It is not an intellectual experience, nor is it didactic. We aim to give the audience a bunch of dots and leave them free to join them however they want. Some will guess at our intentions, others will create their own story/meaning. Both are valid and right.

dreamplay runs at The Vaults, London 10 September to 1 October 2016

Read it online here: http://www.thereviewshub.com/production-diary-sarah-bedi-on-rules-of-engagement-for-dreamplay/

 

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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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