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  • Writer's picturepgracemiles

No. 85 Sleep as a Theatrical - Political Act

Next to my own skin, her pearls. My mistress

bids me wear them, warm them, until evening

when I'll brush her hair. -- from Warming Her Pearls by Carol Ann Duffy

In March the Royal Court Theatre in London hosted a participatory art installation called SLEEP. Created by set designer Moi Tran and in partnership with the Court’s ReAct - “An intensive program of work that enables creative collaborations with Re-Actions to the Season of work programmed in our theatres.”

SLEEP invites a group of women to sleep on the set of the play White Pearl by Anchuli Felicia King after watching the play together.

The application states, “We are looking for 25 participants; in particular, we want to encourage the East Asian community to participate and form the majority of the group. Participants should be willing to engage in a frank and open conversation.”

This slumber party is meant to be an opportunity for lengthy discussions about the play’s themes.

“Ugliness runs through Anchuli Felicia King’s play. White Pearl is a scathing, gleefully nasty corporate satire set in the Singapore headquarters of an Asian skin-lightening cosmetics company. A horrifically racist advertisement is leaked and quickly goes viral, causing international outrage and internal company panic.” -- Ava Wong Davies

The project summary starts with:

“Sleep is not an empty act.

Sleep is self-care.

Sleep is a political act.

A symbolic last bastion positioned against a world of ever-accelerating demands.

SLEEP proposes a real-time experience of ‘collective sleep’ as a personal political act, a way to understand how we form collective identity and how this can become an antidote to a society that excessively promotes individualistic identity as a premium commodity.”

This is an absolutely unique AfterTalk format that I plan to try.

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