A remarkable event by Claire Ruffin

Last week in the quiet and hidden garden of a studio theatre, 3 bis f, situated in the grounds of a psychiatric hospital, l’Hôpital Montperrin, in the centre of Aix-en-Provence, I attended a remarkable event.

L’hôtel à ciel ouvert, directed by Claire Ruffin, is an intimate performance for an audience of 15 people and was taking place hourly between 8pm – 11pm. For a few moments each of us had to shift from the private and intimate experience of getting into our own beds to getting into a new bed, fully clothed, publicly in a garden.

Once snuggled up under a cosy duvet the experience slowly revealed itself. What followed was a gentle, poetic blurring of sensations as we drifted from sound to sound, dozing off to reassuring words whispered in our ears and lulled by  music. Was this all in our dreams? Or were we awake? Some people stayed in their outdoor beds all night beyond the 55 allocated minutes.

Claire Ruffin, one of Crying Out Loud’s Associate artists, and her team have been working with patients at l’Hôpital Montperrin and locals to develop this immersive experience as part of an investigation into sleeplessness. The responses and subsequent writings by participants in little French exercise books will be used to develop the installation to the next stage.

Rachel Clare Artistic Director, Crying Out Loud

L’Insomnante  a visual, nearly wordless show based on the physical sensations linked to insomnia and directed by Claire Ruffin was performed at The Place last year.

Dormez-vous?  its sister project, a multi-sensory guided experience for children on the autistic spectrum on the theme of sleeplessness is planning a return in April 2016 following residencies at schools in London 2014 and Poole 2013.