Big ideas take spotlight in Deep Dish’s ‘Life is a Dream’

05/13/2014 12:00 AM

02/15/2015 11:19 AM

Destinies clash, honor is betrayed and a battle for power may bring down the realm in Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s mystical “Life Is a Dream,” presented by the Deep Dish Theater Company now through May 31.

Directed by Marc Williams, the play will conclude the company’s 13th season at University Mall.

Perhaps the most revered work of the Spanish Golden Age, “Life Is a Dream” is set in the castle of Basilio (John Boni). Fearing his son (Alphonse Nicholson) would grow to overthrow the kingdom, Basilio long ago locked him away, guarded only by the king’s loyal subject, Clotaldo (Peter Battis). But the arrival of a mysterious stranger (Amber Wood), her wise-cracking servant (David Byron Hudson), and two would-be heirs to the throne (Anne-Caitlin Donohue and Daniel Doyle) sets in motion a series of events that will change all their lives forever, and call into question the nature of life itself.

Nilo Cruz, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his play “Anna and the Tropics,” has translated and adapted the play, maintaining its poetic imagery and while focusing and intensifying the story.

“Life is a Dream is a big play with big ideas, focused on fundamental issues of faith, self-perception, and redemption,” said director Williams, who teaches in the Theatre Studies Department at Guilford College and previously staged “Is He Dead?” for Deep Dish. “Its themes are universal, which probably explains why artists and audiences alike have treasured the play for nearly four hundred years.”

The design staff includes scenic designer Lex van Blommestein making his Deep Dish debut; Jenni Becker, whose lighting has adorned such productions as “Good People” and “Radio Golf”; Tori Ralston, who created props for “The Cripple of Inishmaan”; costumer Pamela Bond, whose work was seen in “Radio Golf” and “The Cripple of Inishmaan”; and Michael Betts II, who has designed sound for “Henceforward…,” “Next to Normal,” and “Good People.” David Berberian is the technical director and Jeff Phillips the stage manager.

Dramaturg Jenni Rajewski will present a pre-show "Meet the Play" talk at 7 p.m. Friday, May 16. Post-performance discussions will take place Sunday, May 18, (with the cast and Jonathan Wade, assistant professor of Foreign Languages and Literature at Meredith College); and Thursday, May 22, (a “Meet the Designers” discussion with the production staff). The Deep Dish Book Selection, “A Game of Thrones” by George R. R. Martin, will be discussed at 7 p.m. Monday, May 19, at the Chapel Hill Public Library.

Performances begin Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday (matinee) at 2 p.m. Deep Dish is located in Chapel Hill's University Mall, on Estes Drive and US 15-501.

Tickets are $24 for adults and $21 for seniors, with a $2 discount for Wednesday and Thursday shows. Student tickets are $16 for all shows. Call 919-968-1515 for ticket reservations and for more information visit

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