A Dream Play Preview
Capitol Hill Times
May 2, 2007
Dorothy Cosby Atkinson, founder of Edge Theatre Ensemble, has wanted to
direct August Strindberg's "A Dream Play" for quite some time.
"I've loved this play since I read it in college," said Atkinson. "When I
happened upon Caryl Churchill's new adaptation, I appreciated her feminist
view of the play."
Strindberg's 1901 play follows the structure of a
dream as characters and actions melt into
other scenes and a mysterious door dominates
the stage imagery. Agnes, the daughter of a
god, descends to earth to observe human
beings. During her travels she meets with a
wide variety of characters representing various
ideas and ideals.
"It's very dark in places but also comedic-I think
if people like David Lynch movies, they will get a
kick out of this," said Atkinson. In Churchill's
adaptation, certain 19th-century references are
removed and replaced with those more relevant
to a modern audience as well as the occasional
shifting of scenes. This adaptation was first
performed by the National Theatre in Eng-land in
"Churchill stayed pretty close to the original-she
modernized a few scenes and shifted a few
scenes around," explained Atkinson. During
rehearsals, Atkinson also encouraged the
ensemble's actors to keep dream journals and
incorporate their own dream imagery into the
"We talked about anxiety dreams and other
symbols that came into our dreams," she said.
Atkinson also decided to use Meyerhold technique to inform the actor's movements. This stylized system
of body movements developed by the Russian V.E. Meyerhold requires careful control by the actors.
"I started learning Meyerhold's Biomechanics last summer and really liked the technique," said Atkinson.
"Since only three people in the ensemble (including myself) had experience with Meyerhold, we spent
about a month of rehearsal just working on the Meyerhold training."
The result has created "a dreamlike atmosphere for the play," said assistant director Alexis Tabor.
"Along with the sounds and lights, it's a very physical and psychological experience."
"Basically, we tried to completely transport the audience to another world for 80 minutes," said Atkinson.
"When people walk out onto the street after the show, they may see the world in a different way."
And if they do, that would address Atkinson's original inspirations.
"Meyerhold believed that the most successful theater experience was one that prompted a huge
conversation - one where people go out to eat afterwards and argue about the play that they've seen,"
she pointed out.
"A Dream Play" runs at Freehold Studio/ Theatre Lab's East Hall Theatre, 1525 10th Ave. East (2nd Floor)
through May 19. For times and ticket information, call 800-838-3006 or check the company's website:
Rosemary Jones writes about arts and entertainment for the Capitol Hill Times. She can be reached at
Photo by Sarah Fischer