In July 2011 our Associate Producer Hannah Sullivan met Sleepwalk Collective whilst she was conducting research into international festivals at various festivals in the UK and abroad, Sleepwalk were beginning their tour of THE SIRENS, THE SIRENS which went on to be very successful. In the A.E Harris Building, Birmingham, amongst the bustle of BEfestival, Sleepwalk pondered over Hannah’s questions and produced interesting thoughts on audience reception and the theatre space as a site-specific space. 

As Sleepwalk Collective will be bringing a work-in-progress showing of AMUSEMENTS to the Platform this April, we thought it would be a good idea to resurrect these words, as a chance for you to get 

to know the company a little better. 


Here is an extract from this interview…

An Interview with Sammy Metcalfe and Iara Solano Arana, from Sleepwalk Collective. 9th July 2011.

Hannah Sullivan – 

You say you often find yourself programmed within Performance Art Festivals as well as as Theatre Festivals, how do you find the reactions to your work differ?

Sammy Metcalfe – 

Its problematic at the moment, but may change, in Spain in particular, there are certain festivals that try very strongly to define what it is that the thing is, what the art form is, within both performance art and in theatre you find people who are very defensive, which means that the whole discourse breaks down around is it performance art or theatre which then leads into but it is art? Which is the least interesting question. This stops people approaching work on its own terms. 

I like work that doesn’t ask you to approach it in any other way than what it really is. Its good that people are really passionate about what they like, but we enjoy festivals when you are allowed to be a bit more hybrid. You can see a whole variety of work.

Hannah Sullivan – 

You have been performing a lot at festivals recently, why is this, opposed to theatre venues?

Iara Solano Arana – 

I find it exciting to perform for different audiences, every time, to meet people other people and see different counties. I personally love traveling so its like being able to two things I love at the same time. Its also about the work as well connecting with the audiences, pretty much every piece we have done is like a negotiation between the audience and whoever is on stage, and that is even more interesting in different countries, our work is quite universal it doesn’t have references, that is specific about an identity or place, or even a time, usually its about now, and who we are a human beings, for everyone to have an understanding. So maybe not consciously, but the work that we create is for very broad audiences, I think people from different audiences can connect and get something from it. 

Sammy Metcalfe – 

Getting as wide an audience

as possible is very important, particularly with experimental theatre, which is quite niche, Its easy to fall into thinking that the work just explains itself and it dosen’t matter who comes to see it, which is fine, but its not how we feel about it, for us, we love performing to a big audiences and we love performing to a real mix of people, we hope that our work is accessible, or at least it doesn’t feel like you need specialist knowledge, so part of the reason for touring is try and reach different audiences and also to try and find the best context for the work. Sometimes the place that you are performing sets up a whole load of expectations for the work that is difficult to work with.

Hannah Sullivan – 

Would you intend to move the work back into a theatre rather than these mixed bill festivals?

Iara Solano Arana – 

I think more and more, personally, I am liking to go back to the theatre, the theatre space.

Sammy Metcalfe – 

We still refer to ourselves as a theatre company, in a way a theatre is a site-specific space that we are interested in. We are making work for an audience to sit and take things in, I like a lot of participatory work, but the kind of things we are doing is stuff where people sit there and in the theatre you are in a sense alone, and the experience is very internal. For it to really get to you you need to be in a seat and allow yourself to go along with it. Everyone can be thinking something different, that for me, is the stuff that I love.


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