Who we are
Sleepdogs is a collaboration between director/producer Tanuja Amarasuriya and writer/composer Timothy X Atack. We make theatre, film, audio and other things. We believe art should make you feel stuff. Whatever form it takes, we want to create emotionally resonant experiences for audiences – gripping stories that go to unexpected places; atmospheres that transform the space we’re in; invitations to imagine new myths for how we might live well together.
We’re fascinated by how we exist as humans in a technologically and culturally dispersed world. Both of us grew up halfway round the globe from where we were born, and ideas of place and culture-clash infect our work instinctively.
We often get in deep with dark themes. We always try and stick a few jokes in.
How we work
As collaborators, we’re interested in the splicing of traditions, mixing and matching. We share a love of finding common ground in seemingly conflicting material: the commercial and the experimental, 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 always 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 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.
We are residents at Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio.
Where we’ve been
Our work has been developed and presented nationally and internationally, including at the National Theatre, Manchester Royal Exchange, BBC Radio, Brighton Festival (as part of the British Council/Caravan showcase of new English performance), Seattle International Film Festival, Bristol Old Vic, Bios (Athens) and NexT Festival (Bucharest), where our film All My Dreams on VHS won the Audience Award in 2009. As individual artists we have collaborated with Neil Bartlett, Selina Thompson, Edgar Wright, Sam Halmarack, Matt Lucas & David Walliams, Dipika Guha, Greg Wohead, Eno Mfon, Lucy Cassidy and Raucous, amongst others. We also do talks, workshops, consultancy, mentoring and masterclasses for students and professional artists.
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).
Tanuja is Director of Research at Theatre Bristol and has spoken on independent theatremaking and artist development at events and conferences including Mayfest, Dialogue, Ovalhouse, and as a guest of the British Council at Seoul Performing Arts Market. She is a 2017-18 Bristol Old Vic Leverhulme Art Scholar.
Tim has released 3 albums with radiophonic pop group Angeltech and was part of the North Sea Navigator band for their first 2 records. He writes Doctor Who audio dramas for Big Finish and is regularly commissioned by BBC Radio Drama. His first play for BBC Radio 4, The Morpeth Carol, won the 2014 Radio Academy Award for best drama, and his Radio 3 play, The Stroma Sessions, was nominated for the 2017 Tinniswood Award. He also writes for screen and is currently screenwriter on a sci-fi TV series for EndemolShine China.
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.