Sweet Dreams

A Factory International World Premiere is about to explore Food, Appetite and Desire
Emma Moore-Palmer
June 27, 2024

July sees a World Premiere of a new, immersive experience that is set to take audiences on a surreal and satirical journey through food, appetite and desire.

Major new work from Marshmallow Laser Feast and Factory International opens at Manchester’s Aviva Studios this Summer (17 July - 1 September 2024)

Reggie Watts, Munya Chawawa and Morgana Robinson have been revealed as the voices of an absurdist ensemble of cartoon fast-food mascots, Illustrated by McBess and scripted by former chef Simon Wroe, Sweet Dreams is developed and funded by the BFI (awarding National Lottery funding).

Reggie Watts. Image: Kate Dockeray
Reggie Watts. Image: Kate Dockeray

Factory International and award-winning art collective Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) set out to redefine the boundaries of storytelling and cinema in the world premiere of Sweet Dreams, a surreal, immersive journey through appetite, human desire and the evolving landscape of food. This playful new interactive artwork wraps big questions about how and what we consume into a comic, immersive pop package.

Featuring a cast of satirical on-screen animated cartoon characters, voiced by leading international actors and comedians and illustrated by renowned French artist McBess (Matthieu Bessudo), the narrative centres around a fast-food empire in decline. Mascot Chicky Ricky, voiced by actor and comedian Munya Chawawa, grapples to understand the ever-shifting desires of the masses, alongside an array of other characters including The Boss with a Rolodex head voiced by comedian Reggie Watts and Penny Peckish voiced by comedian and impressionist Morgana Robinson, a shelved mascot made of plastic straws.

Unfolding over a series of meticulously crafted rooms in the vast Warehouse space at Aviva Studios – which last summer showcased a major exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s inflatable artworks - audiences will be transported into a mesmerising blend of motion graphics, gaming, illustration and cinema, moving between the tantalising and the grotesque, the nightmarish and the hilarious.

Munya Chawawa
Munya Chawawa

Munya Chawawa, who voices Chicky Ricky, said, “I've always felt my career wouldn't be complete without voicing a psychologically-twisted animated chicken, so this truly was a dream come true. The concept and characters are so brilliantly poignant and satirically sharp, it's been a total delight and will be for anyone who goes to see it. Let's just say you'll think twice before your next burger..."

Sweet Dreams is the second collaboration between Factory International and MLF following Dream, a live online theatre show set in the midsummer forest of Shakespeare’s play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ that utilised live actors in motion capture suits influenced by live audience interaction through gaming technology.

Morgana Robinson
Morgana Robinson

Known for their breath-taking immersive exhibitions, Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) is an experiential art collective whose work reinterprets the idea of human perception and experience, through design, digital media, performance and sculpture. Incorporating online phenomena such as Mukbang ASMR and utilising cutting edge AI tools and motion capture technology, Sweet Dreams is the culmination of years of innovative work from MLF creating ground-breaking digital experiences all over the world.

Robin McNicholas, Director of MLF said, "Sweet Dreams holds a cartoon mirror on our world. We’re serving up a story where audiences can deepen their connection to the food they eat. We aim to spark further conversations about our place in the food chain, via chirpy cartoon faces that often are the gatekeepers to the things we consume."

Gabrielle Jenks, Digital Director at Factory International said, “We are thrilled to expand our creative collaboration with Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) - Sweet Dreams advances a new direction for the creative team and aligns perfectly with Factory International's mission of supporting art forms of the future. As one of the most exciting immersive art studios practising today, MLF invent new formats for storytelling, using cutting-edge cinematic tools to bring characters and worlds to life. We are excited to premiere this flagship work and look forward to hearing the audience response."

Mia Bays, Director of the BFI Filmmaking Fund, said: “We were delighted to board this bold multi-sensory immersive project from Marshmallow Laser Feast and have been supporting the team over a number of years to evolve this ambitious piece with Executive Producer for the BFI, Ulrich Schrauth. It’s thrilling to know it will be finally shared with audiences, starting with Factory International at Aviva Studios – we hope people will be greedy for it, given that it is a study of human appetites! Our mission is to support distinctive collaborations and talent to stretch and push boundaries, and backing immersive projects such as this sees us working with storytellers who are extending the form of film along with the audience experience in really dynamic ways.”

Chicky Ricky. Illustrated by McBess
Chicky Ricky. Illustrated by McBess

Sweet Dreams adds to a growing body of work from Factory International that harnesses emerging digital technologies to blur the distinction between real and virtual worlds. These include the Virtual Factory series which commissioned artists to create online and digital work responding to the architecture of Aviva Studios including the avatar LaTurbo Avedon - whose installation of Factory International in Fortnite has already welcomed more than 1.5m visitors, visual artist Tai Shani, games developer Robert Yang and filmmaker Jenn Nkiru; and Factory Settings, a digital creative platform that allows audiences to experience a virtual version of Factory International’s new space using augmented reality.

Fashion designer and Free Your Mind costume designer Gareth Pugh, and 3D artist and illustrator Jack Sachs were the first artists to use the platform, each creating interactive digital experiences accessed via a free augmented reality app. Other entirely online Factory International projects include; I CAN'T FOLLOW YOU ANYMORE, a free-to-play browser-based video game by artist and game designer Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, exploring the idea of a Black Trans revolution.

Header Image: Sweet Dreams by McBess