Surreal ‘Life Is A Dream’ comes to Flagler


By Rhian Franchebois |

Flagler College Theatre Arts is putting on a production of “Life Is A Dream.” Directed by Andrea McCook, this play is done with a surrealistic approach with influences from da Vinci and Cirque du Soleil.

“Life is a Dream is a dramatic piece by Spanish playwright, Pedro Calderón de la Barca. Translated by Nilo Cruz, it is about a king, Basilio, allowing his son, Segismundo, to run the kingdom. Simple, right? Not exactly.

Astronomical events, seriously evil omens, and the death of his wife, the queen, at childbirth forced King Basilio to lock his own son away for years, in fear of his ruling to be one of death and destruction. Only after years of guilt, King Basilio decided to give Segismundo a chance. Basilio and his loyal jailer, Clotaldo, devise the plan of drugging Segismundo and having him wake up in the palace under the impression that he is king and that his “Life Is A Dream.” The play then consists of what Segismundo does with this knowledge: questioning what is truly reality versus a dream, with a dash or two of love and incest.

You may now be thinking this play is one heck of a roller coaster. It doesn’t end there.

“[The] central concept is man’s desire to control the future, since this was at a time where the ‘sciences’ were beginning to emerge. Also a time where society was heavily under the influence of the Catholic Church … where God’s order is supposed to guide our behavior. This play reflects this desire of humanity to try and control God’s order,” says McCook, professor and Theatre Arts department chair. “The prophecy and all the information Basilio reads in the stars and heavens [is] ordered by god, [and] by him trying to alter what the signs are telling him, Basilio is trying to change and manipulate God’s work.”

This play is being done with a surrealistic, fantastical approach, which could be seen in countless design elements: promotions, lights, sound, set, costuming.

McCook has worked with Professor Paul Denayer, lighting and set design, and student Rebecca Woods, promotions, about their approach. Together they have come up with influences such as Leonardo da Vinci’s renaissance inventions and that inspiration of engineering, engineering life, and the disasters that come from engineering life.

McCook admits she was influenced by “Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba” because it captures that surrealistic quality, exaggerations, exaggerated costuming, and is fantastical and dream-like.

When asked about her approach to this production, McCook said she had never done a totally surrealistic production, and that the most challenging aspect of the production so far is, “coordinating into a vision all the different parts, meaning set, lights, sound, and trying to make sense of all the different pieces of it all. [There are] many components, not a lot of props. There are a lot of scenes that have to be figured out. We want to coordinate the different parts, staging it so it is clear and makes sense. The set I think with its many levels offers opportunity, but that also means being careful on how to stage the play so it is clear what is going on, where we are and what is happening.”

Flagler College’s production of Calderón’s “Life Is A Dream” directed by Andrea McCook is being performed on Oct. 28-31 at 7:30 p.m. and on Nov. 1 at 2 p.m. at Lewis Auditorium, 14 Granada St. in downtown St. Augustine.

For more information, visit

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Be the first to comment on "Surreal ‘Life Is A Dream’ comes to Flagler"

Leave a comment