While You Sleep has been an ongoing project since 2016, and one of my favourites. Written by Kai Taddei, it's currently part of The Belfry's Incubator series, and we're now into our second year. For context, The Incubator series is a program for emerging works that The Belfry sponsors in Victoria, where they give a work a week of free rehearsal time (in The Belfry, which is awesome) for two years, and then when those two years are up, you have the opportunity of the work being programmed into the Spark Festival, which is a festival that The Belfry produces in March.
Kai submitted the work in the early part of 2017, and we met a few times during the year before our first week of rehearsal that December, which was such a lovely experience. As a designer, you're a little bit useless in a rehearsal room when the script is still in progress, but I wanted to be there and be a part of the process. I spent the first day of rehearsal doodling and sketching, trying to capture the mood and feelings of the room, seeing if I could translate the fear imbedded in Kai's text wordlessly. I sat down with Kai and the director at the end of the day and showed them the work I had done, and they were so impacted by it that an idea struck me: using the drawings and paintings as a source of inspiration for everyone in the room. Both Kai and the director agreed with me, as we had all been thinking of a way for me to be more integrated into the creation process for the show. Of course, back in October I had already started compiling a moodboard for the show, mostly composed of surrealist/horror photography. Images from Kyle Thompson, Lauren Zalenga, and Victoria Siemer were at the forefront, with some other influences from Cig Harvey and Edward Honaker (if you have time check out all of their portfolios, they're all incredible photographers!). But by creating original art based on our collective experiences in the rehearsal room, I was contributing to the show in a much more personal and effective way.
We also had the VB Marketing Director and resident graphic designer Tori come in and take some promo photos (styled by me, of course).
At the end of the week, Kai went away with the script and got to writing again. The script went through some pretty serious rewrites, new characters were added, and some of the performers changed, but by the time September rolled around we were ready to hear the new material and get started on the project again. We did a staged reading of the new script at Vancouver Fringe, under Ruby Slippers and their Festival of Diverse Works, which was an absolute blast. We got a full 8 hours of rehearsal at the BMO Theatre Centre, which is the home of Arts Club in Vancouver, which was unbelievable, and then we got another two hours of rehearsal and tech at the False Creek Community Centre on Granville Island, which is where we had our performance. Because we had a new director, a heavily revised script, several new actors, and such a short amount of time, I didn't do as much drawing as I did for the December week. Instead, I focused on documenting the process, since I now have a Google Pixel 2 XL and the camera is amazing, but also because Kai couldn't be with us, since they moved to Toronto to start their Masters' in August (like a chump).
I did do two drawings though, not to fear. You can really see a development in my style if you compare the ones I did in December with these, which is wild.
We're fast approaching our next December rehearsal week, and I'm excited to see what new ideas we're all going to bring to the table this time!