Lucid Lovers is a musical audio-book by Potent Whisper that explores the art of lucid dreaming and the politics of freedom of movement.
Potent Whisper is a Spoken Word artist, rapper, author and community organiser from London.
Interview with Potent Whisper
Could you introduce Lucid Lovers and how it came to be?
Lucid Lovers is a metaphysical romance that explores the art of lucid dreaming and the politics of freedom of movement. It is presented as an audio-book which is narrated in rhyme, featuring a full cast and original soundtrack. The story follows a couple from Sudan who become separated by state violence and borders. Whilst in different countries and desperate to be reunited, they discover something called “lucid dreaming” – the practice of becoming self conscious inside of your dreams. Every night they see each other in the dream world but wake up every day beyond each other’s reach. Lucid Lovers is the story of love’s journey through borders and this couple’s cunning plan to use dreams to once again be reunited in the waking world.
What got you interested in lucid dreaming?
My Grandmother transcended last year and it affected me deeply. I was asking myself those typical questions: “what is life” and “is there life after death?”. At around the same time my brother introduced me to the practise of lucid dreaming which offered me meaningful hope that it is possible to exist without, or perhaps beyond, our bodies. After all, when we dream we are somewhere else… in a different dimension/ space… without our bodies… yet we are still there… and with lucid dreaming we can be self conscious there, too. It wasn’t long before I had my first lucid dream and it was a life changing event for me, as it is for many people.
I found myself researching the subject and was fascinated by the way in which the practise was being applied in different areas of life. For example, lucid dreaming can be used to practise and develop physical skills whilst we are asleep. It can be used to help us process emotional traumas, heal our bodies, consolidate and memorise new information, and so much more.
Many people have also reported that they use lucid dreaming to communicate with ancestors or seek guidance from their ‘spirit guide’. Certainly I have found that when I face a difficult challenge in life, a solution can often present itself to me in a dream.
The practise also has huge creative potential with many iconic artists and inventors pointing to the dream world as the source of their work. Believe it or not, I actually wrote parts of the audio-book whilst I was in a lucid state.
And how/why did you make the connection to the politics of freedom of movement?
Being a campaigner since 2015 I have spent a lot of time thinking about power in its many forms. It seems to me that most working people simply want the power to have some meaningful degree of control over their lives, which most of us don’t. Almost every aspect of our lives are determined by other people: our bosses, our landlords, politicians. However, with the ability to lucid dream comes the power to control our immediate surroundings and the experiences we have, which I believe has untold psychological benefits for the dreamer in their waking life.
Many people in society also have their movement heavily restricted in different ways, which is of course deeply harmful.
This might be the wheelchair user who is immobilised not by their wheelchair, but by the government’s lack of provision for accessible services and spaces.
Or this might be the refugee who is forced to risk their lives crossing borders, instead of being offered safe and legal routes to asylum.
The idea is to offer people other ways of moving, other ways we can experience the psychological benefits of spatial freedom, within a society that restricts our movements. It feels important to clarify that I am certainly not suggesting that lucid dreaming should be viewed as a replacement for our right to move freely, rather a temporary exercise to improve our well being until our right to move is won politically.
How did you find your cast members?
I had the privilege and honour of visiting Sudan in 2013 and 2016 when delivering arts workshops for young people in Khartoum. This is when I first met Mustafa Khogali, a respected community leader and prominent voice against state violence and political oppression in Sudan. Mustafa and I kept in touch and he agreed to play the role of Samer in Lucid Lovers. Mustafa was kind enough to introduce me to Hind Swareldahab who is a Sudanese pharmacist and actress who honoured us by agreeing to play the other leading role of Ahlam.
Peter Hardingham, who plays the Immigration Officer, had worked with me previously as a participant in one of my poetry workshops. After having seen his incredible acting abilities, I had hoped that Peter and I would work together in the future and Lucid Lovers has provided the perfect opportunity for us to do so.
What impact do you hope the work can have?
One of the main aims of the work is to humanise the impacts of the British asylum system and to combat the mainstream demonisation of refugees by sharing some of the true realities of people who cross political borders to find safety.
By using lucid dreaming as a tool to explore this issue, my hope is that the piece will speak to people who are perhaps not already politicised, or people who have not already given the issue much thought. Perhaps once people realise that they have the power to take control of their dreams when asleep, they might go on to carry that empowered attitude through into the waking world; to take control of their dreams here too.
Image: Potent Whisper performing at Tate (by Tim Brown)