“A Dream Play” Examines Human Condition

Dreams allow us to abandon our usual ideas of time and space, instead allowing for reflection on life in a nonlinear way. That’s exactly what the cast of “A Dream Play” set out to accomplish in Brehmer Theater from April 2 to 6.

“A Dream Play” was written by August Strindberg in 1901 and translated from Swedish by Paul Walsh, who conducted a workshop with Colgate students on April 2 about the art of translation. The production was directed by Senior Lecturer of English in the University Theater,

Simona Giurgea, and it was performed by the spring University Theater, which consists of 12 students: seniors Benjamin Mandell, John McCoy, Ned Mobus, James Vigilante, Evan Tomlinson Weintraub and Brenda Zavala, junior Andrew Kingston, sophomores Charlotte Arbogast and Anastassia Bougakova and first-years Kasper Alberico, Renee Xu and Hongshi Zhong.

The play focused on dreams, as well as the nature and significance of the relationships between the lives of human beings. The main character in “A Dream Play” is named Agnes and was played by Arbogast. Agnes is the daughter of Indra, a Vedic God. She descends to Earth in order to experience for herself the problems of different human beings.

Agnes meets a variety of characters throughout the play in order to learn how humans live. Some of the many characters she meets include a lawyer, a poet, a gatekeeper and an officer. She also meets four deans that represent the different subjects of theology, philosophy, medicine and law. The symbolic value of these characters allows for a discussion about truth and what exactly truth entails.

As “A Dream Play” progresses, Agnes immerses herself more and more in the human world. She starts by meeting people and making friends, and ends with a husband and family of her own. By the play’s conclusion, she is forced to choose between her two duties: one to save the world and the other to care for her child.

The play focuses greatly on the suffering of humans throughout their lives. Agnes both witnesses and experiences many different types of suffering, including poverty, the routine nature of married and family life and even cruelty.

These trials and tribulations teach her that human beings are meant to be pitied, an idea that she constantly repeats during her many adventures. Towards the end of the play, Agnes herself says that her biggest trial living among the humans was simply being.

The other main focus of this play is dreams and how experiencing events in a dream-like way affects the way one views the world. The actors moved across the stage in a swift and quick manner that added to the effect of the entire play being a dream. There is a strange, vivid, momentous and emotional way that dreams often occur, and it is clearly very different than waking life. The actors of “A Dream Play” really captured the unique way that dreams occur throughout the play, allowing the audience members to ask old questions about life in an entirely new light.