Pedro Calderon’s Life Is a Dream on Stage in the City Different

Date June 29, 2010 at 10:00 PM

Publication SantaFe.com

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Beginning on July 9, 2010, for three days, Teatro Paraguas, Warehouse 21, and Southwest Repertory Theater will present a staged reading in English (translation by Kathelin Hoffman of the Theater of All Possibilities) of Pedro Calderon de la Barca’s 1635 classic drama Life Is a Dream (LID).

In all probability, LID is based on a Christian legend that is a version of the story of Gautama Buddha.  Calderon’s play is ambitious in nature and deals with central issues of what it is to be human: “In essence, it is a study of the mystery of life, the interplay of the divine and the profane in human nature, and the tug-of-war between fate and destiny…[as the protagonist Segismundo states] ‘I’ve come to know that all human happiness in the end passes like a dream’” (Teatro Paraguas (TP) Press Release—June 11, 2010).

This production is the brain child of Nat Eek, Professor Emeritus of Drama for Oklahoma University, who produced summer seasons in Santa Fe with the Southwest Repertory Theater from 1988-1994.  Eek is partnering with TP to present a staged reading of LID as a prelude to the Santa Fe Opera’s world premiere of Spratlan and Maraniss’s opera based on the Calderon masterpiece.

TP Artistic Director Argos MacCallum is directing a cast that features Angelo Jaramillo (Segismundo), Kieran Sequoia (Rosaura), Crawford MacCallum (Basilio), and Jason Adams (Clotaldo).  The cast also includes  Marcos Maez, Jason Jaramillo, Paola Vengoechea, and Tony Roman.  David Briggs will accompany the cast on guitar.

In an e-mail interview on June 24, 2010, Argos MaCallum discussed his long relationship with LID: “I’ve played the clown figure Clarin in a 1971 Theater of All Possibilities production that was directed by Kathelin Hoffman.  I have also played the prime minister figure Clotaldo in the 2003 Teatro Nuevo Mexico’s inaugural production of Carlos Rivera’s adaptation of the play, Sueno.  I have seven translations of Calderon’s play in my files and hope to return to it [LID] many times in the future.”

Argos wishes to thank Professor Eek for the opportunity of directing this staged reading.  He also is working with an experienced and talented cast, many of whom he was worked with on various productions dating from 1997: “It is quite rewarding to see how they [the actors] are coming to grips with the rich poetic language, the classical style, and the complex ideas.”

Finally, Argos articulated the precise nature of Calderon’s intentions and accomplishments in LID: “As a devout Catholic, Calderon’s religious and secular plays are allegorical, reflecting the struggle of man to find, consciously or unconsciously, his proper place in the hierarchical structure of God’s universe.  Free will, fate, and predestination are major forces which push and pull one in or out of alignment with this world order.   In animal skins and chains at the beginning of LID, Segismundo represents man in his natural state.  Experiencing life’s bizarre situations, he comes to realize that one can never be certain if one is awake or dreaming.  He comes to realize the proper strategy for dealing with this uncertainty is to act well (obrar bien) in all circumstances.  To act well, even in dreams, is to be more or less in one’s proper place in the universe.”

Argos went on to expound on the centrality of the concept of harmony for seventeenth century Spain: “Harmony—everything in its proper place—is the basis of the Spanish concept of honor, which was a national obsession in Calderon’s day.  Calderon’s major theme is the quest for honor (or integrity), because, narrowly interpreted, honor demands extreme action, such as “honor killings,” which can seem so alien to modern sensibilities.”

Life Is a Dream will be performed on July 9 & 10 at 7:30 P.M. and on July 11, 2010, at
2 P.M. at Warehouse 21 (1614 Paseo de Peralta next to Site Santa Fe).

Admission is by donation.

Photos provided by Teatro Paraguas Artistic Director (and Life Is a Dream Director) Argos MacCallum

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