Thursday, March 5, 2015

6 Questions: Sam Trubridge


Sam Trubridge, director of The Playground NZ, is bringing his acclaimed show, Sleep/Wake, to The Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa as part of The New Zealand Performance Festival - March 19-22, 2015.  Sam took time out of preperations for the Festival to answer our 6 Questions.

1. What was the original inspiration behind sleep/wake?

A chance encounter with chronobiologist and sleep scientist Philippa Gander, who became my principal collaborator on this production. She has done some fantastic work with NASA, various airlines around the world, specialising in shift work and fatigue. Through talking with her I became fascinated with the idea that sleep was the opposite state to the extremely self-conscious behaviour of the performing actor. Performance is a kind of logical result of our self-awareness, while sleep is the absence of all social and sentient behaviours. For SLEEP/WAKE I was interested in looking at how I might examine this state on stage somehow. 

2. What should audiences expect from the show?

Surprises! The experience of waking up from sleeping and dreaming is a complete paradigm shift that I try to bring into the show in various ways. So the audience's understanding of the space they are in is turned over a couple of times, collapsing familiar theatrical boundaries by invading the stage in various ways or breaking down the horizon of the performance to include distant places.

3. How do you describe your artistic aesthetic?

For me, the image is as meaningful or as vocal as a line of text. So I try to compose the work with an aesthetic and spatial eloquence which allows the audience to read meanings into it - from the play of light on the walls, to the movement of the set, and the performers' own careful choreography within this. This is the principal motivation within my work as a director/designer - to construct an aesthetic, material, and spatial world that is spellbinding and spectacular in the way that most good set design is, but that also has an authorial presence and dramaturgy.


4. Where does your interest in science come from?
I have always 'played' between science and art. Both have different measures of analytic and creative processes, and both are results of a deep curiosity and interest in the world or how things work. As a child I would play in order to test my understanding of the world around me and my own capabilities, as well as to creatively express myself. This carries through into my work as a director/designer, where I seek out this boundary between art and science practices, or consider my own work as a science of performance production and reception. In the arts we often work with ambiguity, so it is exciting to interact with scientists whose approach to ambiguity is very different. It helps me to articulate and redefine what ambiguity and poetry really is to me.


5. Your dad is renowned furniture designer David Trubridge and your family famously spent several years at sea. How do you remember that experience and how do you think it has influenced your work?
I have very vivid and detailed memories of our life on the boat. My play as a child was so shaped by this environment, and from being in a space of endless motion and rootlessness. Living at sea you had to be able to solve all of your needs and fix anything that went wrong. There were no tradespeople or doctors to call on. As a result my own practice crosses geographic, disciplinary, and cultural boundaries in the way that we did on the boat. There is a flexibility built into my work from this experience, and an interest in working inventively with space, mechanics, and design components. Audiences will also notice how I use light and water on stage, or recognise video footage of my brother William Trubridge, whose career as a world-record breaking free diver has also been influenced significantly by our life at sea.


6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you?
Being able to present SLEEP/WAKE at La Mama is a great honour, for so many reasons. The book that put me onto working in theatre and set design was Julie Taymor's Playing With Fireso it is really wonderful to be showing my work in the venue where her career started. But even more important is the opportunity to engage with this venue and its community, which continues to lead and maintain its innovative spirit in presenting performance. I love the values that La Mama supports and promotes, and am glad to play a part in this with SLEEP/WAKE and our festival of New Zealand works, which has been assembled and brought to New York City guided by the same principals and spirit. 


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La MaMa presents
SLEEP/WAKE
by The Playground NZ

March 19 - 22, 2015 - 4 Performances Only!

The Ellen Stewart Theatre
66 East 4th Street
(between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $25 Adults; $20 Students/Seniors; $50 3-ShowNew Zealand Performance Festival Packages also available

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE