A Dozen Dreams was created in response to the prompt: “What are you dreaming of?” It was described by the NY Times critic Maya Phillips as “Part art installation, part immersive theater, En Garde Arts’ endlessly intriguing A Dozen Dreams takes audience members on a self-guided audio tour through the pandemic dreams of 12 female playwrights, rendered in a dozen rooms exquisitely designed to replicate the surreal, chameleonic chambers of the mind at rest.”
This immersive piece utilized the notion of dreams to reflect on the psychological impact of the pandemic on our subconscious. A dozen female playwrights expressed their fears, anxieties and hopes for a post-pandemic world. They shared stories of resilience and imagining a better future; dreams of flying, distant travel, and grappling with being an artist during the societal reckonings of 2020.
As co-creator and leading designer of the project, Irina Kruzhilina led a team of 4 female designers to transform the playwrights words into a dozen expressive scenographic environments. Irina Kruzhilina was responsible for the visual and environmental design, Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew designed the lights, Brittany Bland created video, and Rena Anakwe designed sound.
The spaces were linked together in a serpentine dreamland, which spectators – equipped with personal headphones -experienced through immersive soundscapes of the playwrights’ voices, each narrating their own dream.
Each dream was a uniquely designed environment. Ellen McLaughlin’s words became an abandoned theater with a distressed dressing room. Caridad Svich’s text was transformed into a corridor enveloped by walls created from broken Plexiglas and semi-translucent sculptured fabric. Liza Jessie Peterson prompted a space filled with tilting classical pillars, suggesting a world in collapse, while Ren Dara Santiago’s space featured a projection of the playwright reflected in a pool of water. Lucy Thurber’s dream offered hopes through a dimensional setting sun posed against a proscenium. A Dozen Dreams was more than translating dreams into a spatial form. It was a piece of its time. The global pandemic challenged us to re-contextualize our artistic practice in many ways, questioning the idea that a relation of co-presence between live actors and spectators is a fundamental aspect of theatrical performance. This powerful scenographic performance installation gave the audience a chance, in a socially-distanced world, to experience some of the most powerful articulators of our time reflect upon our world today.
Location: Brookfield Place – World Trade Center New York City, May 2021
Created by Anne Hamburger, John Eisner and Irina Kruzhilina
Room 1: Ellen McLaughlin
Room 2: Andrea Thome
Room 3: Mona Mansour
Room 4: Ren Dara Santiago
Room 5: Rehana Mirza
Room 6: Caridad Svich
Room 7: Erika Dickerson-Despenza
Room 8: Martyna Majok
Room 9: Liza Jessie Peterson
Room 10: Sam Chanse
Room 11: Lucy Thurber
Room 12: Emily Mann
Visual and Environmental Design – Irina Kruzhilina
Lighting Design – Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew
Projection Design – Brittany Bland
Sound Design – Rena Anakwe
Tech Director – Aaron Gonzalez
Props Artisan – Jessica Sovronskiy
Production Manager – Jenny Beth Snyder
Associate Scene Design – Abby Smith
Assistant Scene Design – Gaya Chatterjee
Assistant Lighting Design – Christina Tang
Assistant Sound Design – Margaret Montagna
Assistant Projection Design – Ryan O’Hare