Coming from the genius of actor, performance maker and writer Aslam Abdus-samad, 'I Can't Sleep' premieres this Friday and Saturday night 7pm at The Flying Nun. We sat down with Aslam to pick his brain about this exciting new project. 


Conceived through tired eyes, I Can’t Sleep is an interdisciplinary solo performance entwining autobiographical stories and folklore to examine sleeplessness. From monsters under the bed to anxiety – what is keeping you up during the witching hour? Escape your slumber for a dreamy performance.


Q: Where did your interest in sleeplessness come from? 

A: Ever since I was a teenager, I have had intermittent difficulties with sleep – getting to sleep and sleeping soundly. This spilled over during the lockdowns, like a lot of people, where sleeping was challenging. I found that if I filmed a short movement piece, edited it, and then posted it to socials, I was able to sleep afterwards. The creative act became a catharsis. From there, I wondered about other rituals to help with sleep which led me to explore folklore and mythology and how they might intersect with my own myths around sleep. 


Q: How will I Can’t Sleep challenge conventional theatre tropes?

A: This piece does not follow a conventional narrative structure and relies largely on image and body to tell its story. In the development of the work, we have been exploring the various states and feelings that you can go through during sleeplessness and we have tried to isolate those in each scene using stories from my life or mythology. This has given the piece a poetic texture.  


Q: Tell us a bit about your interdisciplinary practice and your background as a performer/theatre maker. 

A: I describe myself as a physical performer, deviser and writer. My works tend to rely on gestural communication through the body and more recently, I am investigating how text is generated from physical experience. In terms of being interdisciplinary, I believe that the artwork dictates its own form which means I have used projection, created site specific pieces, interactive events and performance installations. 


Q: What can audiences expect on the night? 

A: Audiences can expect to be transported into a bare room with nothing but a bed, some bedding and a hypnotic rug. There will be dance, poetry, projection as we move through feelings such as loneliness, futility, humour and a hint of the absurd. The piece transports you to a space between awake and asleep, real and imagined. 


Q: What do you intend to do with I Can’t Sleep after your residency with The Flying Nun? 

The Flying Nun has been an excellent testing ground for exploring the connections between autobiography and folklore. We have been using projection as a tool to make visible the imagination in the space. Moving forward, I would like to bring in a live feed element so that we can distort reality in real time and play with ways to also distort physical reality. 


Tickets are still available for 'I Can't Sleep'Friday 17th March & Saturday 18th March!
Don't snooze on it!