16/5 – 18/5 Sleeping Beauty challenges and empowers

16/5 – 18/5 Sleeping Beauty challenges and empowers

Helsinki-based performing arts collective Reality Research Center make their debut at Brighton Fringe festival this week.

The collective’s performance, Sleeping Beauty, forms part of the festival’s Nordic Season. The concept’s creators Julius Elo and Xana explain what the show is about.

Sleeping Beauty welcomes all adults to explore their fantasies with a “sleeping” person, either as a visitor or as the person who is sleeping. The performance is carried out within boundaries and rules agreed on beforehand. What is crucial to pay attention to when preparing a participatory performance?

“Safety structures, at all times. It is compulsory to create a safe space and atmosphere for all participants. People are aware of their freedom to stop at any point. The concept is based on mutual understanding, and thus, proceeds naturally,” says Xana.

The performance is carried out by a group for only one person at a time. What is important to keep in mind with such an exceptional setting?

“The performers are present at the bar and can be approached by anyone. Thus, there are more potential visitors than actual performers. The visitors make the first move by approaching a performer of their choice. Therefore, the show is based on interaction and negotiation. In the presence of a safety figure, participants sign a contract and the performance begins”, says Elo.

How has Sleeping Beauty been received by people?

“Both performers and visitors have described their experience as fascinating. They share their intimate fantasies with strangers. Many have found it beautiful and empowering. Not all conversations end with an agreement, but at least people have had an opportunity and the approval to discuss their sexual fantasies with someone,” says Xana.

Sleeping Beauty has challenged people to think of their own sexuality and fantasies even if they have not participated in it themselves,” says Elo.

“First impressions of the show’s description are often either positive or negative, and turn away people who do no want to approach their own fantasies. Some visitors felt the performance started already within the dialogue before the actual show. Sleeping Beauty is thought-provoking on many levels,” says Xana.

The dyadic format is used in Britain and sexuality is often present on stage, but in a different manner. How do you prepare for an international audience?

“Sexuality has a different role in every culture. We wish to encourage conversation on the topic of sexuality and performance, potential and boundaries. The performance challenges to reconsider taboos and what sex and sexuality mean,” says Elo.

What do you expect from your visit to Brighton Fringe?

“We are coming to Brighton with open minds. It will be fascinating to hear the questions our show raises, both culturally and artistically,” Elo concludes.

Text: Essi Miettunen Photo: Brighton Fringe / Nordic Fringe Network

Sleeping Beauty, Nordic Season, Brighton Fringe festival, The Old Market, 11a Upper Market  St, Hove BN3 1AS, https://www.brightonfringe.org/whats-on/sleeping-beauty-136004/, 16 May at 10pm, 17 May at 10.45pm, 18 May at 10pm, tickets: £10.50, age suitability 18+.

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