Author: Eric Jensen, Managing Editor
I’m a sucker for adaptations. From Ben Folds’ piano-ballad cover of Dr. Dre’s “Bitches Ain’t Shit” to the animated blasphemy of “Spongebob Hemppants,” there’s something liberating about taking creative license with preexisting art. Thanks to my inclination towards such revamped masterpieces, I am counting down the days until the opening night of Fever/Dream, an adaptation of Pedro Calderón’s Life is a Dream.
Guest director Jessica Kubzanski “had been considering the play for years,” said Sheila Callaghan, who collaborated with Kubzanski to create Fever/Dream. “Sometime last year, [she] asked if I would work on an adaptation with her,” Callaghan said. “Little did I know we’d be going into rehearsal less than a year later!”
The script retains the basic premise of Calderón’s original, which tells the story of Segismundo, whose royal father imprisons him from birth for fear that his son’s leadership will destroy the country. Eventually the king allows his son to become heir, but Segismundo’s murderous behavior lands him back in jail, where he is told that his time outside the cell was nothing but a dream.
Fever/Dream brings the classic plot hurtling into the present, where the king is now a CEO and his son a drudge forced to toil in the customer service sector. Kubzanski, who described Callaghan’s comedic adaptation as “brilliantly updated,” said Fever/Dream‘s plot is very similar to that of Life is a Dream, but “incorporates the challenges of the workplace” in a way that is relevant to contemporary audiences. After Segismundo, renamed Segis, is given the chance to run his father’s company and fails, he decides that, as Kubzanski put it, “even if it was a dream, it’s still worth having lived his life.” With this conclusion at hand, Segis and his coworkers seek to take over the corporation.
Reba Buhr (sophomore), who plays Rose, calls Fever/Dream “an epic piece of theater.” Buhr said, “It manages to combine raucous comedy and intense hallucinations with sweet, passionate, pained love stories while also posing questions about morality, sanity and how we can possibly tell what is dream and what is reality—all within one corporate office building.” Fellow cast member Anna Gibson (senior), agreed. “It’s interesting to watch a man who has been kept locked up essentially in a sensory deprivation chamber his entire life come to full power and fruition throughout the course of the show,” Gibson said.
The cast is a strong group of seven Oxy students who display the ultimate mark of great theater: they love what they’re doing. “The talent pool within this show is really incredible,” Gibson said. “We’ve all become close throughout the process, and it’s wonderful to learn new things from a guest director as well as other Occidental peers.”
Kubzanski concurred-she is very impressed with the set of actors she’s been working with. Based on the interviews, the chemistry between everyone involved is electrifying. If their enthusiasm is any indication, the show will be electrifying too.Fever/Dream opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Keck Theater, and runs through December 2. Tickets for students are $5 at the Box Office.
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