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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Dream a little dream, I do

Published: April 27, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

It opens with the sound of a gong. Graduate student Naya Chang appears on the stage, dressed as the monkey king. She tells the audience that life is suffering, the cause of suffering is attachment, the cessation of suffering is attainable, and the cessation of suffering comes from freeing oneself from attachment. Then, the drumming begins and Ramona Alexander starts her descent down the stairs. Thus begins the eclectic show that is The Dream Project.

The concept of The Dream Project actually began in acting classes at Brandeis. For example, my class is currently putting together their own dream projects (which are nowhere near as elaborate as this show). However, with the help of director Jon Lipsky, the ten graduate actors have used their own dreams and thoughts to create a work of art. When asked for his thoughts, graduate actor Joshua Davis commented about the project, “It's surprisingly been a difficult and frustrating process. Dreams are an extension of our inner self. To find the courage to not only share that with an ensemble but eventually an audience, was absolutely terrifying.”

In act one, the cast plays a shifting ensemble, with the exception of Chang, who plays herself only in her dream. All the actors become the different characters in each others dreams. For example, Sara Olivia plays Hannah Wilsons mother in once dream, only to be an Argentinean director in Anthony Stockards dream. In another instance, Lindsey McWhorter at one time plays Julia Roberts and a few scenes later, plays herself. In addition to this, most of them play themselves in at least one scene.

Act one of The Dream Project is funny and poignant, scary and amusing. The dreams run the gamut from becoming the evil overlord of Canada (Matthew Crider) to having your childhood toys come alive in the middle of the night (Ramona Alexander) even to driving your car while steering from the car in front of it (Brian Weaver). Each dream opens a window into the minds of the graduate actors and the dramatic interpretations are nothing short of incredible.

After seeing the show five times already (Im an usher), there are parts which constantly jump out in my mind and make me excited to watch the show again and again. Some of these are: the evil overlord dream, the car dream, Julia Roberts (Joshua Daviss dream), the date with Jason Alexander dream (Hannah Wilson) and the marriage dream (Naya Chang).

Act two changes a great deal from act one as it is the dream cycle of one graduate student, Sara Olivia. This act is one continuous dream with Sara sporadically waking up (though the parts where she is awake are not nearly as interesting as the dream portion) for short scenes. Act two follows Saras familial relationships, and in particular, her relationship with her Italian cousin, Salvo (played by both Robert Serrell and Matthew Crider). Sara is also portrayed by three actors: herself, Hannah Wilson, and Ramona Alexander.

Saras dreams flow into one another seamlessly throughout the entire act, making a coherent story about a summer of love. While some of the material may not be appropriate for children, the show is still very entertaining for any audience member with an open mind. Also, once the audience realizes that two characters are played by multiple actors, the story becomes much easier to follow and more interesting to watch then if it was simply told from a single point of view.

The Dream Project is a very impressive production from start to finish. It is a very real piece of theater as the audience is let into both the hearts and minds of the actors/writers/dreamers. Every member of the cast gives his/her own powerful performance and entertains while expressing a greater truth and meaning (as Brian expresses in act one). I highly recommend this extremely innovative show for the entire Brandeis community.

The Dream Project runs this weekend, Thursday-Saturday at 8pm and Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. All shows are in the Laurie Theater and cost $16-$20 for non-students and $10 with a student ID.