simple8, the critically-acclaimed ensemble based theatre company – winners of the 2015 Peter Brook / Empty Space Awards – will make their Park Theatre debut with the world premiere of a new play by Sebastian Armesto and Dudley Hinton.
Don’t Sleep There Are Snakes, based on the true story and book by linguist, author and academic, Daniel Everett, will open at Park Theatre on 22 March and play until 23 April, with a press night on 23 March.
Pirahã [(n) piɾaˈhã] A remote Amazonian tribe with a language no outsider has ever understood. Daniel Everett, a linguist and missionary, is sent into the jungle with a clear purpose: to learn their language and convert them to Christianity.
But as he struggles to communicate, he uncovers a culture like nothing he’s ever imagined. They have no words for numbers or colours, no urge to nurse their young or store food, no future tense, no ability to tell made-up stories, only things they have directly experienced, no religion, no leaders, no crime. And, by chance or by consequence, they’re the happiest, most care-free people he’s ever met.
Everett’s discoveries blow apart modern linguistic theory, particularly Chomsky’s theory of Universal Grammar, forcing him to question his faith and his understanding of what it means to be human.
Following the critically acclaimed The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and Moby-Dick, Simple8 return with an adventure wrenched from the heart of the jungle, which traces how language, culture and experience shape us all.
The simple8 ensemble for Don’t Sleep There Are Snakes is led by Mark Arends (1984 / Headlong), alongside Christopher Doyle, Rachel Handshaw, Emily Pennant-Rea, Yuriri Naka, and Clifford Samuel, directed by Dudley Hinton and Hannah Emmanuel.
simple8 formed in London in 2006 and are focused on simplicity, the ensemble and the story. They create new writing through extensive research and development, inspired by rarely explored material and work with large ensemble casts. Using a variety of techniques, ‘poor’ theatre (a focus on the actor’s voice and body rather than theatrical devices), mime, live music and song, puppetry and magic, they aim to present work that is fun, inventive, original and daring. On Park Theatre’s bare stage simple8’s ‘poor’ theatre will conjure a plane, a river and the most remarkable of communities using nothing but six actors, a couple of chairs and a length of rope.
Sebastian Armesto and Dudley Hinton, co-writers of three previous simple8 productions, said: “We’re thrilled to be at Park Theatre for the first time with this piece. What first attracted us is that it’s a fantastic story – and a simple story – but one that deals with big ideas. We’ve tried to construct a narrative that doesn’t mimic the alien-ness of the Piraha but instead presents them so that their alien-ness creeps up and surprises you; something that narrates Dan’s journey from outsider to honorary tribes-person directly, echoing the stories the tribe tell themselves; that hopefully leaves the audience wondering whether they’ve been transported there or the Piraha have been transported here; and that, ultimately, shows a way of life and understanding of a world so at odds with anything else that we can only question our own – and that is fundamental to theatre.”