Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Heike Schmidt's B&B

The Fringe has always had a special talent for throwing up unusual shows in unusual venues. But this year’s show from Germany’s Heike Schmidt is, you might say, the best one yet. While groups like Semper Fi have brought us to locations as salubrious as the jacks on Stephens’ Green (Ladies and Gents), Schmidt’s show goes one better by bringing its select little audience to a hostel on Aungier Street, then bedding them down there for the night.

“I just wanted to find some way where you could have a performance that would be very intimate,” says the show’s Berlin-based star. “Because that is the only way to explore what I want to. I’m very interested in that space between being awake and being asleep, which is a very interesting state of mind.”

Wanting to move beyond more traditional gigs, Schmidt was desperately seeking somewhere that people could become relaxed enough to go to sleep in the company of a roomful of strangers. Clearly nobody told her about The Abbey. As luck and some legwork would have it, Fringe director, Wolfgang Hoffman located a dormitory at the Avalon.

Schmidt, who trained as a singer, specialising in French chanson, first met Hoffman when the Fringe director was running Fabrik, the performance space he founded in Berlin.

“Most people can remember being sung to sleep, and they remember it being a very positive experience. But when we are no longer children, nobody will sing us to sleep anymore. Which is why I wanted to create this show where I could get one-on-one with people and sing them to sleep…”

But will people in the audience actually feel comfortable enough in those surroundings to go to visit the land of nod?

“That is the real question. I really think we will be able to create an environment where people can start to feel totally relaxed. We need to create somewhere that people feel totally relaxed. Because that half-asleep, half-awake space that is so interesting, it is also…well, it is also a very personal space.”

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