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Image from ‘Dreams, Dreams, Dreams’ by filmmaker Nichola Bruce

Image from ‘Dreams, Dreams, Dreams’ by filmmaker Nichola Bruce

A Wave of Dreams

The multi-layered piece A Wave of Dreams is a free evening performance of readings, electronic soundscapes, film and music taking place as part of Stade Saturdays, this Saturday – 11 July. Miranda Gavin caught up with journalist and Thin Man Press publisher, Susan de Muth, ahead of the show to find out more.

Susan de Muth (photograph by Stephen Murray)

Susan de Muth (photograph by Stephen Murray)

A Wave of Dreams is a collaborative work between actors, musicians and a filmmaker based around a translation by Susan de Muth of a text written in 1924 by one of the founding members of Surrealism, the French poet, novelist and essayist, Louis Aragon. Described as a prose-poem-essay, its publication marked a shift from the concerns of Dada to that of Surrealism – Andre Breton published his Surrealist Manifesto just a month later – and is, says de Muth, “a seminal surrealist work”.

“But I wouldn’t call it ‘avant-garde’. It is almost documentary in that it reports on the hallucinations and inner journeys of the first surrealists as they began their experimentations in 1920s Paris. The language is poetic, vivid and lyrical. It was sometimes very challenging to ‘unwrap’ complicated conceits but very enjoyable and satisfying when an appropriate English equivalent was found. I have spent quite a bit of time in Paris and when I read the text it is firmly situated in various parts of Paris in my mind’s eye.”

De Muth started translating surrealist and Dada texts from the French several years ago and this project was initially commissioned by Dawn Ades, who “goes by the rather wonderful title of Professor of Surrealism at the University of Essex and is a trustee of the Tate”. It was one of the first works she translated for Ades and also “one of the hardest, although not nearly as difficult as Claude Cahun’s Aveux non Avenus”, which she translated for Tate Publishing in 2007.

Helping to bring the work to life is the reading by vocal performer, Alex Walker, whose erotic prose-poem, Licentia, was published by Thin Man Press last year. “He is an absolutely brilliant actor; because he is also a poet. He really ‘gets it’ and can convey both the meaning and the imaginative information effortlessly. On Saturday we have another poet-performer, Niall McDevitt, also reading with us, as we are adding another two extracts—so the audience are in for a bit of a treat.”

Adding a visual dimension to the piece, a short film based on an extract, Dreams, Dreams, Dreams by filmmaker Nichola Bruce, will be screened before and after the performance. “Nichola’s film really gets on board with the ‘inner adventure’ aspect of the text; it is multi-layered, dream-like and erotic,” de Muth enthuses. “She has interpreted it brilliantly and I wish she had had time to do more extracts!”

Tymon Dogg

Tymon Dogg (photograph by Susan de Muth)

A Wave of Dreams was the first time that De Muth asked musicians she knew to create soundscapes responding to the text so she brought in long-term collaborators Alex Thomas and Tymon Dogg. Thomas produces “incredibly inventive, mostly electronic soundscapes” and also works with Walker under the name Uru Ana, while multi-instrumental singer-songwriter Dogg will be performing a solo set after A Wave of Dreams.

Dogg, who is best known for his work with The Clash and Joe Strummer, “is also an amazing composer and songwriter in his own right, producing some incredible tunes for this piece on the piano, violin, viola and a harp of his own invention”. Dogg, it transpires, was first ‘discovered’ by Paul McCartney in the late 1960s and his new album Made of Light is in “a similar, hallucinogenic, psychedelic, almost Blakeian vein, so I would imagine that will be his starting point—though I am sure his more robust, political songs will feature as well as his gentle, love and pondering songs.”

“One of the key concepts of A Wave of Dreams is the quest for ‘the Marvelous’—a state of mind achieved through sleep deprivation, drugs, alcohol and finally going into a trance in which the experimenters would speak, write and draw. Although Aragon was an atheist Communist there is a quasi-religious element in all of this,” de Muth adds. “A Wave of Dreams is powerful and hypnotic. Sometimes people cry during the performance and many have commented that they didn’t want it to end because it is so involving and there is something euphoric about the experience.”

A Wave of Dreams takes place at Stade Open Space, Hastings on Saturday 11 July 7.30pm. It has been performed several times in London and once in Hastings last year at the Black Huts Festival and there are plans to tour the UK and Europe. Stade Saturdays are free events supported by Hastings Council running throughout the summer until 17 October 2015.

For  more information on the works mentioned, visit Thin Man Press website and Susan de Muth’s website.

Posted 16:22 Wednesday, Jul 8, 2015 In: Performance

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