Life is a Dream

The heavens were right to take away my freedom.
If I was free I’d pulverise this mountain
and use the rubble to build a staircase of stone.
I’d climb to the heavens and violate them.
I’d shatter the stars.

  • Writer
  • Translator
  • Director
  • Designer
  • Lighting Designer
  • Special Make-Up Effects
  • Composer
  • Producer
  • Premiere
  • Performers

Text about Life is a Dream

Twenty-one years ago, after receiving a dire astrological prediction, the king imprisoned his son in a mountain cave. Now, facing a crisis of succession, the king releases his son and orders the court to convince the young man that his incarceration was all a dream.

With this radical treatment of a classic text, the audience are given an intensely voyeuristic experience of brute survival, the fragile interconnection between siblings, the deepest need for mothering and the the dark struggle for love and power.

What does the fly understand of the window pane it bumps against til it reaches the point of exhaustion? Nothing in nature offers any such obstacle to its natural instincts as this: a transparent one. We know no more of the the transparent void which seperates us from others than the fly knows of the insuperable object of that glass surface.

(Baudrillard, Cool Memories IV)

Press and Reviews

"There is theatre that makes us laugh at life's absurdity, theatre that makes us weep at life's tragedy and theatre that makes us quake and shiver by showing us the abyss that awaits humanity if we don't hold fast to our moral compass. Daniel Schlusser's production of Pedro Calderon's Life is a Dream is very much in the latter category."

Martin Ball, The Age

"Life is a Dream plays out the aftermath of damage: it's clear in the neurotic repetitions, the infantilisms of mutual dependency and the relentless scapegoating, as much as in the complex denials that are encapsulated by mundane routine. In particular, it illuminates how traumatic shifts of power are domesticated and normalised, just as after revolution the king - Napoleon, Stalin - restores the lines of authority that have been blown violently apart. Freedom glimpsed through the lens of revolution is, after all, terrifying..."

Alison Croggon, Theatrenotes, as link

  • Daniel Schlusser, original program note, as pdf
  • John Bailey, "Wunderkind Mysteries" (commentary on Melbourne theatre), RealTime #95, as link

Images from Life is a Dream by Marg Horwell

Currently no video for this production.