The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present August Strindberg’s A Dream Play in a new version by Caryl Churchill and directed by senior Catherine Andre, on March 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11 at 8:00 p.m. Performances will take place in the Berlind Theatre at the McCarter Theatre Center, located at 91 University Place in Princeton. A talkback about the production will follow the March 4 performance, moderated by R.N. Sandberg, a playwright and Lecturer in Theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts.
Churchill’s darkly comedic adaptation of Strindberg’s 1901 play, A Dream Play follows Agnes, the daughter of the gods, as she journeys through human life in all its pain and beauty, searching for the hope of redemption. Putting herself directly into the shoes of mortals, Agnes falls in love, gets married, and has a child, all the while attempting to relieve the pain of sacrifices demanded by a human life. Eventually, she realizes she cannot fulfill her mission to save humanity from themselves, having unwittingly become a cause of suffering in her own right.
A Dream Play is particularly well-known for its “dream logic,” or fantastic and conflicting images that coexist, and characters that split, double, multiply, evaporate, condense and merge; a world with no secrets, no inconsistencies, no scruples, no laws. Strindberg wrote the play in forty days, between his pregnant wife’s departure and her ultimate but temporary return. While they would eventually divorce, she went on to star in the play’s premiere six years later.
Andre is an English major from Virginia pursuing certificates in theater and humanistic studies. She attended Interlochen Arts Academy, a fine arts boarding high school in Michigan, where she focused on film studies and decided then she wanted to pursue directing. She chose to attend Princeton University in order to study directing within the context of a liberal arts education. Andre notes that the late Tim Vasen, former director of the Program in Theater, was a significant influence on her time at Princeton and she learned a great deal from him. He had recommended A Dream Play to her during a directing seminar as an exciting challenge. She has directed on a number of productions at Princeton, and she recalls that Vasen, who passed away unexpectedly in December 2015, supported her through a number of independent directing ventures culminating in a production of Macbeth on campus. Andre received funding through the Mallach Senior Thesis Award from the Lewis Center last year to study the work of Strindberg and Henrik Ibsen abroad. She is directing A Dream Play for her senior thesis in theater.
“The message I take away from A Dream Play,” explains Andre, “is that no matter how much you care, how much you love, you cannot save anyone from their demons until you face your own. Life is a complex web of beautiful and painful experiences, inextricably bound together. At the end of the day, all we have is hope and the aspiration of being our best selves to those who surround us.”
Mathabane, born and raised in Portland, Oregon, is a psychology major and singer/songwriter serving as the sound designer for A Dream Play as part of his senior thesis in theater. He also was featured in, served as sound designer, and composed original music for the fall production of Lobby Hero, which was also part of his senior thesis work. Mathabane has performed in a number of Lewis Center productions, as well as with the student companies Princeton University Players, The Triangle Club, the Tigertones a cappella group, and L’Avant Scene, the French-language theater group.
Andre invited Mathabane to join her on this project. “I liked this play because it is set in no specific time and in many different places,” explains Mathabane, “offering a challenge to a sound designer in making the transitions that are not written into the script and requiring a number of conceptual choices.”
The cast includes Dylan Blau Edelstein ’17, Matt Chang ’19, Kirsten Hansen ’19, E. Harper Nora Jeremijenko-Conley ’20, Jared Brendon Hopper ’18, Nick Judt ’20, Kasia Kalinowska ’19, Arianna Lanz ’17, Justine Sansone ’19, Raina Seyd ’19, and Margaret Wright ’17, and the production features set/costume design by Lecturer in Theater Anya Klepikov and lighting design by Megan Berry ’19. The stage manager for the production is Charlotte McIntosh ’18, with assistant managers Miles Carey ’18, Kirsten Traudt ’20 and Eric Yang ’17.
The March 4 talkback with the audience will explore various aspects of the play and the production including the unique collaboration between Andre as director and Mathabane as sound designer.
Tickets for A Dream Play are $12 general admission and $11 for students and seniors when purchased in advance, and $17 general admission and $15 for students and seniors purchased the day of performances at the box office. Tickets are available through University Ticketing and McCarter Box Office. To purchase tickets online visit http://arts.princeton.edu/events/a-dream-play/2017-03-03/ or call Princeton University Ticketing at 609.258.9220 or McCarter at 609.258.2787, or stop by the Frist Campus Center Ticket Office or McCarter Box Office. Tickets will also be available at the door prior to performances.