Life’s a Dream in Sci-Fi Spin on Classic

Vanessa Aguirre

A Japanese futuristic sci-fi spin brings a classic Spanish play to life.

Director Edward Douglas puts a new twist on Pedro Calderon de la Barcas’ “Life is a Dream.” Giving his costume and set designers creative freedom, Douglas hopes to serve up a new theatrical experience for audiences.
“I’m looking forward to the process,” Douglas said. “The way the story is laid out … it works.”

De la Barca, considered a “Latin” Shakespeare by some, wrote during Spain’s golden age (1580 to 1680). The story deals with the conflict between predestination and free will, and is based on the common theme of honor.

Originally set in a mythical version of the Kingdom of Poland, this three-act play shows the influence of Lope de Vega, utilizing a form he perfected, the “comedia.” A mix of comic and serious elements, the play stays true to the dream-like feel set by de la Barca.

The play’s main character, Segismundo, is imprisoned by his father King Basilio at birth, because his astrology studies have given him reason to fear his son will bring dishonor to his family, and in the end the downfall of the King.

Set in what is thought of as the traditional Spanish view of honor over pride, Calderon explores the power of two contrasting forces, free will and determinism, in shaping ones destiny.

In the subplot Calderon addresses the problem of honor and vengeance when Rosura and her servant Clarin, seek revenge on Estolfo, Segismundo’s cousin, who has dishonored her by courting her then leaving.
Aside from challenging his crew to create unique sets, costumes and weapons, Douglas is also using original music composed by Chris Lowery.

Students are buzzing with anticipation, “I can’t wait to see what they have in store,” said Hagop Nagarian, 18, a child psychology major. “The theme is out there, but if they can pull it off I’m sure it will be fun to watch.”

“I think it will be very interesting to see, maybe with a Lady GaGa feel to it,” said Isabel Urena, 20, a psychology major. “I haven’t been to any plays since I’ve been at GCC but I’m really excited about this production.”

Auditions for the production of “Life is a Dream,” translated and adapted by Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz, brought forth an array of new talent.

As you walked into the auditorium, the mood was light with anticipation in the air and fresh faces in every corner.

After filling out a short form and having their head shots taken, those auditioning found a spot on the lobby floor, animated and ready to give it their all.

They were all asked to prepare a one- to two-minute classical monologue and be prepared to read from the script.

Among the fresh faces was 19-year-old Kahleena Smith. Although new to GCC, Smith is no stranger to the stage. Actively involved in her high school theater program, she hopes to continue her work throughout her stay at Glendale.

The cast list has been posted, and major roles assigned. The cast, a mix consisting of a 50/50 split of new faces and returning members, is expected to make a splash this spring.

“I’m very, very happy with the cast,” said Douglas.

Apart from the out-of-the-ordinary sets and costuming, this production also features a fight sequence that is sure to keep the audience at the edge of their seat.
With that in mind, be ready to think outside the box, for this performance is anything but cookie cutter and pushes the imagination to new bounds.

The play opens on April 29 and will run through May 16 in the Studio Theatre.
For more information contact the theater department at (818) 240-1000 ext. 5612.