Sleepdogs is Tanuja Amarasuriya and Timothy X Atack. It’s a name for the lab where we develop ideas and it’s the company through which some of those ideas get produced.
We make theatre, film, digital audio and other stuff. 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.
Our work has been developed and presented nationally and internationally, including at the National Theatre (London), Manchester Royal Exchange, Brighton Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Bristol Old Vic, Bios (Athens), Sura Medura (Sri Lanka) and NexT Festival (Bucharest), where our film All My Dreams on VHS won the Audience Award in 2009. We are residents at Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio. Our producers are MAYK.
Tanuja is a director and sound designer. She was born in Sri Lanka, grew up in north east England and now lives in Bristol, UK. She has worked with artists including Selina Thompson, Improbable, Eno Mfon, Chris Thorpe & Rachel Chavkin, Sam Halmarack, Inua Ellams/Fuel and Raucous. She is a Leverhulme Arts Scholar attached to Bristol Old Vic.
Tim is a writer, composer and sound designer. As composer/sound designer his work includes with Neil Bartlett, Matt Lucas & David Walliams, and Chris Goode & Co. He has released three albums with the band Angeltech and two with North Sea Navigator. He writes Doctor Who audio dramas for Big Finish and is regularly commissioned by BBC Radio. His first commission for BBC Radio 4, The Morpeth Carol won the 2014 Radio Academy Award for best drama and his Radio 3 play, The Strona Sessions was nominated for the 2017 Tinniswood Award. His eco-sci-fi podcast drama Forest 404 launched in April 2019 as the flagship drama commission for BBC Sounds. He was one of the screenwriters adapting the TV series, ‘Humans’ for EndemolShine China and he is developing two original TV series pilots under option to production companies in the UK and US. His stage play, Heartworm, won the 2017 Bruntwood Prize for playwriting.
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.
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.