La Vida Es Sueño

Teatro Paraguas, Warehouse 21, and Southwest Repertory will present a staged reading in English of the classic Spanish Golden Age drama Life is a Dream, by Pedro Calderón de la Barca, for three performances beginning July 9, 2010 at Warehouse 21.

Performances are Friday, July 9 and Saturday, July 10 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, July 11 at 2:00 p.m. at Warehouse 21, 1614 Paseo de Peralta next to Site Santa Fe in the Railyard Park. Admission is by donation.

A Friends of Teatro Paraguas event!

Please join us July 10th at 5:00p.m. at Epazote/ Burts Taqueria (the corner of Agua Fria and Guadalupe across from the Santuario) for a pre-show prix fixe evening of appetizers made by world renowned chef Fernando Olea (recently named one of the top 3 chefs in America by Michelle Obama), cash cocktails, and the opportunity to meet the chef and also to meet and discuss the play with the cast, director and producer. Join us immediately following our reception for our 7:30 PM Saturday night performance at Warehouse 21!

Your gracious attendance serves to support our theater and performing arts in Santa Fe. Please RSVP (505-424-1601) no later than Wednesday July 7th. Tickets are $25.00 each and include the reception and the staged reading. Tickets may be purchased at the door. Space is limited!

Argos MacCallum directs the cast, which includes Angelo Jaramillo as Segismundo, Kieran Sequoia as Rosaura, Crawford MacCallum as Basilio, and Jason Adams as Clotaldo. The cast also includes Marcos Maez, Jason Jaramillo, Paola Vengoechea, and Tommy Roman. David Briggs accompanies the cast on guitar.

The impetus for the production comes from Nat Eek, Regents Professor Emeritus of Drama at the University of Oklahoma, and former Producer/ Director of Southwest Repertory Theater, which mounted summer theater seasons in Santa Fe between 1988 and 1994. The Santa Fe Opera is producing this season the world premiere of Life is a Dream, an opera by composer Lewis Spratlan and librettist James Maraniss based on the play, and Professor Eek saw an opportunity to collaborate with Teatro Paraguas and offer the public a chance to see a staged reading of the play as a prelude to the opera.

The translation is by Kathelin Hoffman of the Theater of All Possibilities, which produced the play in Santa Fe in 1971.

Born in Madrid in 1600, Calderón wrote the first of his many plays at the age of 13, shortly after the death of his mother. His father, who was secretary of the treasury, died two years later. Lope de Vega, the literary giant who established the classic Spanish theater along with Lope de Rueda and Tirso de Molina, recognized and promoted the extraordinary talents of the younger Calderón, who became Spain’s preeminent playwright after Lope’s death in 1635. Calderón wrote and produced many plays for King Phillip IV at the specially constructed Buen Retiro Park, which featured such technical marvels as rising islands and artificial waves. Like Lope, Calderón had a distinguished military career, and became a priest later in life after the death of his son. 
He wrote his last secular play at the age of 81, and died while working on a religious play in 1681. In all, he wrote 120 comedias (secular plays), 80 autos sacramentales (religious plays), and 20 entremeses (one-acts).

Life is a Dream, written in 1635, is considered Calderón’s masterpiece. 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.

The protagonist, Segismundo, heir to the Polish throne, has been imprisoned since birth in total isolation because of dire predictions of tragic chaos should he ever ascend the throne. His aging father, King Basilio, pressured by his niece and foreign-born nephew to abdicate, elects to crown his son and see if he “can conquer his fate” and rule with wisdom and prudence. Segismundo is brought to court in a drug-induced sleep and wakes to splendor. When the predictions begin to become real (Segismundo throws a servant off a balcony into the sea), the prince is returned in the same state of sleep to prison. He is woken by his keeper, Clotaldo (the prime minister), who advises him that what he saw was “all a dream,” but that, since we can never know if we are awake or dreaming, one must always “act well.” Liberated a second time from prison by a populace who now know they have a hereditary ruler, Segismundo hesitates to seek revenge, not knowing if he is dreaming again, especially after seeing the lovely Rosaura (whose sub-plot mirrors his) for a third time. Conquering his desire for her, he leaves to vanquish, and then pardon, his father. He concludes, “I’ve come to know that all human happiness in the end passes like a dream.”