Theatrically sleeping (10/8/10)
The Lullaby of Off-Off-Off Broadway
Too keyed up to sleep? A friendly hospital or hotel room too expensive? Spend the night at the national theatre – all night. And bring your pyjamas.
London’s Barbican Theatre is famous for its concrete, brutalist architecture and it’s occasionally avant garde programming. The Duckie Theatre Company will be continuing the tradition by performing a full night of sleep – for the audience.
Theater ticket holders will be given their own mattresses, and invited to put on their PJs, floss and brush, and then retire to the strains of lullabies performed by the acting company. Then to sleep, perchance to dream of morning breakfast, which will be served to end the performance. The price, about $67, is far less than a London hotel – though many may wish to find a place to shower and shave therafter.
Sleep as Theater
What does it tell us that sleep is now touted as a formal theatrical performance? Certainly that sleep itself is no longer the normal, natural act it as it can and should be, conceived and achieved with as much required thought as breathing or walking. We have come to treat our bodies as machines, machines that may be cosseted and smoothed by drama of a theater.
Yet sleep often works best when it is a kind of performance – a ritual, patterned conditions which we know in advance and enjoy perceiving. Going to the theater is also a conditioning ritual – we expect a sequenced pattern of ticket offices and ushers, clearly marked seats, the chimes to tell us the necessity of seating, the dimming of the lights, the opening of the curtain which prepares us to willingly or not temporarily suspend disbelief.
For a lot of people patterning is all they need to sleep well – a conditioning ritual. They turn down the bed, put out their clothes for the next day, floss and brush their teeth, and cozily sit down next to their bed to read a book by a famous sleep doctor, or perhaps a book they should have read in high school but didn’t. And as they finish reading they visualize the dreams they desire that night, the places they crave to visit, the sounds, textures, colors, and lights of a world unlike any other which they may experience within their private theater chamber of sleep. For those who pre-dream this is a world of varied enchantments, not least the renewal their brain and body undergo, annealing the experiences of the day to all the memories of a life. Sleep creates new knowledge and new brain cells, providing us a different perspective as soon as we awake to our surprisingly different and remade body.
Would that the theater could provide us so much.
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