Dreams are by nature deeply personal and revealing—even more so when you see yours brought to life onstage. In the Columbia University Performing Arts League’s upcoming one-act, “Dreamscape,” the subconscious spills onto the stage as the dreams of cast and crew provide the inspiration for the play.
The show, which will be directed by Cole Rainey, CC ’15, and produced by David Silberthau, CC ’15, is a community-focused project in which all members of the production team work together to write and perform a play with material drawn from their dreams.
“It taps into the raw creativity of your subconscious and uses it actively in theater,” Rainey said.
Based off of an acting exercise known as “dream work,” in which actors give each other guided walkthroughs of their fantasies, “Dreamscape” attempts to replicate this on a larger scale in a series of acting workshops led by Rainey during the first three weeks of rehearsal.
“You go onstage and close your eyes and [Rainey] will ask you what you see and smell and hear,” head writer Danny Tejera, CC ’15, said. “Eventually you can involve other people in the dream exercise.”
During the same time period, the creative team will be drafting a script for the play, using as inspiration their own dream journals and what they observe in the acting exercises. Tejera hopes the performance will honestly explore the common anxieties and concerns of Columbia students.
“When you are dreaming, you are thinking with no filter,” Tejera said.
Far from a literal staging of dreams, the production team hopes to use these fantasies in a much more nuanced way.
“If you dream that you are being chased by a polar bear, it doesn’t mean there is going to be a polar bear in the show,” Tejera said. “Maybe there will be a character that has one polar bear-like quality.”
For Rainey, Silberthau, and Tejera, the foundation upon which “Dreamscape” is built is the strong sense of community they hope to create over the course of the semester.
“We envision that everyone in the group is going to be sharing their dreams, and we’re creating a community where everyone is open and honest,” Silberthau said.
The team behind “Dreamscape” hopes to offer both participants and the audience a new theater experience, and one that all members of the cast and crew can take an active role in creating.
“People are really intrigued by the idea of exploring dreams. … It’s like living another life, and in this project you get to explore that,” Silberthau said.
“Dreamscape” will be performed on Nov. 6, 7, and 8 at the Glicker-Milstein Theatre.
Correction: An earlier version of the article stated that "Dreamscape" will be performed in the Austin E. Quigley Black Box Theatre. The performance will take place in the Glicker-Milstein Theatre. Spectator regrets the error.