What is Sleepdogs?
Sleepdogs is the company that supports Tanuja Amarasuriya and Timothy X Atack. It’s somewhere between a development lab and a production company. Essentially it’s a framework that supports us to manage our lives and ideas in an agile way, given that we usually work as freelance artists, on separate projects; and everything is funded project-to-project.
What do we do?
We make theatre, screen, audio and XR projects ranging from existential sci-fi theatre to electro-pop albums made entirely from field recordings. Whatever form it takes, we want to make art that moves you – gripping stories that go to unexpected places; atmospheres that transform the space we’re in; familiar emotions made complex again.
We make imaginative art that speaks of the modern world. We never try to simplify human experiences. We’re not afraid to go to dark places. We always try and stick a few jokes in.
How we like to work
Here’s our Ethical Policy.
We’re interested in the splicing of traditions, mixing and matching. We love finding common ground in seemingly conflicting material: the tangible and the strange, the comic and the horrific, the complex and the hopelessly naïve. We believe it’s the in-between spaces where you find the truly interesting stuff: the feelings and ideas we want to share with an audience — stories that haven’t been told quite that way before, scenic routes not yet taken, familiar emotions made complex again.
We’ve never been concerned with doing things ‘properly’; we just want to make our work interesting. We’re geeks for process and we often take techniques and processes associated with one artform and transpose them to another. We use digital technology a lot, and tech is often integral to the way we create and form stories, as well as in how we share them with audiences.
Marina Abramović once said that performance art should be protected from the “theatre fuckers” and “film fuckers” who stole or appropriated its ideas, textures, and motifs. Well, hello! We’re those fuckers. And we’re proud that our work is of mongrel heritage. Because we don’t think this is a tribal business. If it’s not growing, changing, living, breathing… what’s the point?
We are residents at Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio.
We collaborate regularly with the fine people at MAYK to produce our theatre work.
A great many of the pictures on this site are by (awesome dude) photographer Paul Blakemore.
Our work has been commissioned or produced by organisations including: English Heritage, BBC Radio, Bristol Old Vic, Endemol Shine, Echo Lake Entertainment, Calamity Films and Die Gute Fabrik. Our short film, ALL MY DREAMS ON VHS, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw and O-T Fagbenle won Audience Awards and special mentions at film festivals around the world, including Seattle International Film Festival, NexT (Bucharest), and Encounters (Bristol, UK). Tanuja has directed and sound designed work by writers and artists including Danusia Samal, Improbable, Selina Thompson, Raucous, Inua Ellams/Fuel and Chris Thorpe & Rachel Chavkin. Tim’s writing has won multiple awards including the the 2014 Radio Academy Award for Best Drama (THE MORPETH CAROL), the 2017 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting (HEARTWORM) and the 2020 Writer’s Guild award for Best Radio Drama and Radio Academy ARIA for best fiction storytelling (FOREST 404).
We’ve written on things like: The influence of DVD commentaries on Sleepdogs’ practice (for D.I.Y. publ. University of Chichester, 2014) and: Why we should encourage more time between experiencing art and making a judgment on it (for An Audience (R)evolution, Theater Communications Group, USA 2016). Tim’s critical writing has been commissioned and published by RealTime Arts (Australia), anti-festival (Finland), Live Art UK (Writing From Live Art) and the much missed Choke ‘zine (Bristol).
What others have said about our work
“Harrowing, intelligent, beautifully crafted and deftly performed. And ultimately incredibly uplifting in an impossible-to-describe kind of way.”
– Andrew Haydon, Postcards from the Gods, on The Bullet and the Bass Trombone
“What starts out as ludicrous standup in feathers and claw feet carries with it a startling emotional trajectory, moving from savage humour to a haunting final scene.”
– the Guardian, on Buzzard
“Beautifully tender and emotive.”
– A Younger Theatre, on Astronaut
“Imagine a Godspeed gig – the slow coalescing into beautiful sound, the drones, the politics, the hope – and my friends, you have The Bullet and the Bass Trombone. Godspeed as theatre. I feel like I’ve found the holy grail.”
– Maddy Costa (@maddydeliquette) on The Bullet and the Bass Trombone
“Theatre at its most demanding, its most uncomfortable, its most evocative, its most primal, its most human, its most complex, and its most brilliant.”
– 365bristol.com on Dark Land Light House
Right, if you’re this far down the page and you’re still reading, THANKS and WE LOVE YOU. Now go and get yourself a nice cup of tea.