“Stories help us realise who we are at this present moment.”
(Photo by JochemJurgens)
Thomas, what mindset are you in when creating a new work?
I begin with the idea that I am able to create the perfect story, that there is a way I can combine all the different ingredients to create a story that has everything inside it.
As I go along, I realise this perfection doesn’t exist, because the work changes all the time. Every single moment, the definition of perfection is changing! But it always starts off with the urge to create something that falls into place.
Did Bedtime Stories fall easily in place for you?
Bedtime Stories was created in three weeks, in a studio with just me and two sound designers. I had planned to write a collection of stories. I wrote text for each story, recorded it with my voice, and then the sound designers created a great soundscape around it. We did story after story, and after a while, we began seeing a pattern of how all the stories were connected.
We were able to discover the source that binds them – which is family life.
Bedtimes Stories has the texture of a children’s story, but there are moments within it that are incredibly strange and dark.
On the surface, Bedtime Stories is a coming-of-age story of a young girl who listens to stories every night before bed by her father and her grandfather. She hears stories about how her parents met or fictional stories, for instance, about a squirrel in the forest who has to escape from the invasion of humans.
With each story, she grows older and matures in her response. But that’s on the surface… On a meta level, it’s about a young boy who has to conjure up all these different stories in order to enrich his own life, to come up with a family of his own with all its potential happiness and eventual hardships.
So, what you’re saying is storytelling is a way of creating who we are.
We fill our lives with our stories and we give body to our personality by different stories that we tell about ourselves. By listening to stories, we witness the different decisions that are made, put ourselves in those shoes and think about whether we would have made a different choice.
What I hope Singaporean audiences will take away is a rediscovery of their own desire to listen to new stories and to create stories of their own, because stories help us realise who we are at this present moment.
Were you interested to return to the essence of storytelling with Bedtime Stories?
Yes, the performance is basically a man (or me) sitting in a box (on a raised stage), telling a story to a group of people. Our stage designer had this idea of creating a sterile environment for the stage where you can see the computer, the speakers, the cables – everything is transparent.
The audience also sees the speakers which we place around them. I can position my voice in different places, and it gives this interesting sense that the audience is in the middle of this story I am telling. We’re using technology to bring storytelling to a higher level; it creates this feeling you would get when you watch a magic trick, yet you still believe in what you’re watching or experiencing.
Why should people catch Bedtime Stories at SIFA 2019?
If you want to truly grasp what happens in the world, then come and see it. Because art in its essence is a window into people’s souls, into the souls of the people who made it and the souls of the people who witness it.
Thomas Dudkiewicz is the writer and performer of Bedtime Stories. He is also part of the performance-collective URLAND from The Netherlands, which believes in live art for digital times.
Don’t miss Bedtime Stories by URLAND (The Netherlands) taking place from 21 – 26 May, Tue – Sun, 7.30pm. Click here for more.