“Wide Slumber for Lepidopterists is a renewed hope for opera-theatre and a breath of fresh air for contemporary opera lovers.“
—OperaWire review by Jennifer Pyron, 22 January 2021
“Wide slumber is an investigation of relationship, of intimacy, of intrusion, of between, of boundary. Its realm desires to identify assumptions and then stroke them to the point they shudder and release their lenses, films, gauze to expose some yet-unimagined beyond.”
Inspired by the award-winning book of the same name by poet a.rawlings, Wide slumber for lepidopterists pairs sleep and dream studies with lepidoptery (the study of butterflies and moths). Tracking the stages of sleep and pairing them with the life cycle of butterflies and moths, insomnia is mirrored in the birth of the egg and narcolepsy in larval hatching. And when the caterpillar starts its final moult, dreams begin, weaving around us as tightly as a cocoon until we are somnambulant, a chrysalis ready to emerge as a moth.
It’s a story, it’s not a story.
It has elements of story.
Pattern your breath on the sound of moth wings, magnified and frenzied, as you fight for sleep in a suffocating tangle of sheets. This is a poetic fantasia, an erotic nightmare-scape. So we dream the same – do we dream the same?
A small ensemble of musicians—three singers and one performer—conjure an ethereal and visceral world of cyclic metamorphosis. Each of the three singers embodies a persona within the text; the Insomniac, the Somnopterist (sleep scientist), and the Lepidopterist. A hybrid loom—a dream machine—is a centre stage object that undergoes constant transformation in the hands of the fourth character: the Weaver.
Even when the body falls asleep, the brain’s hearing pathways do not shut down. Even in the hours of deepest slumber, sound can be imprinted on your memory.
A team of scientists including Harvard University lepidopterists and University College London sleep research scientists worked closely with us on the creation of WiDE SLUMBER. We have curated a series of events that can be presented in tandem with the performance including a butterfly pinning workshop, lectures on the metamorphosis of butterflies and sleep science, and installations.
WiDE SLUMBER for Lepidopterists is produced by VaVaVoom Theatre and Bedroom Community and was premiered in May 2014, at the 28th edition of Reykjavik Arts Festival.
Composer: Valgeir Sigurðsson (Iceland)
Text: a. rawlings (Iceland / Canada)
Stage Director / Adaptation for Stage: Sara Martí (Iceland)
Dramaturgy / Adaptation for Stage: Sigríður Sunna Reynisdóttir (Iceland)
Stage Design: Eva Signý Berger (Iceland)
Costume: Harpa Einarsdóttir (Iceland)
Light / Video: Ingi Bekk (Iceland)
Animation / Video Art: Pierre-Alain Giraud (France)
Sound Design: Dan Bora (USA)
Choreographer: Valgerður Rúnarsdóttir (Iceland)
Prop Design: Marie Tanya Keller (USA)
Producing Organisation: VaVaVoom Theatre and Bedroom Community
WIDE SLUMBER for lepidopterists pairs sleep and dream studies with lepidoptery, conjuring an ethereal and visceral world of cyclic metamorphosis.
Tracking the stages of sleep and pairing them with the life cycle of Lepidopterae (butterflies and moths), the audience is lulled into a cocoon where the borders between dreams and reality are blurred.
A small group of musicians accompanies three singers who embody personae within WIDE SLUMBER; The Insomniac, The Somnopterist and The Lepidopterist. A hybrid loom — a dream machine — is a centre-stage object that undergoes constant transformation in the hands of the fourth character; The Weaver.