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Princes and princesses, romance and revenge in University Theatre’s Life Is A Dream

Life Is A Dream-v-play
Actor from University Theatre's "Life Is A Dream."

Athens, Ga. – University Theatre will present a new adaptation of Calderón De La Barca’s romantic, adventurous masterpiece of the Spanish golden age, Life Is A Dream. Adapted by director Marla Carlson and Ph.D. theatre candidate George Pate, Life is a Dream runs in the Cellar Theatre of the University of Georgia’s Fine Arts Building Oct.11-16 at 8 p.m., with an additional 2:30 p.m. matinee on Oct. 16.

Life is a Dream was written in the 1630s, and though rarely performed in the English-speaking world, theatre historians and poets have long celebrated it as one of the greatest works of drama, on par with William Shakespeare’s finest plays. This new adaptation explores the conflict between fate and destiny with an imprisoned prince, rebel armies, violence and forgiveness. Riffing on Calderón’s theme of gender and identity confusion within the original play, this production will feature cross-gender casting, with a woman, UGA theatre major Jennifer Elmore, performing the role of the prince, Segismundo, who has spent his life secretly locked away in a prison, unaware of his own identity.

“We’re taking Calderón seriously but also having some fun with the framework,” said Carlson, who is an assistant professor in the department of theatre and film studies in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. “This show is part of the Studio Series, and thus, the focus is on the work of the actors. It’s an ensemble show and movement will be the predominant element.”

Carlson and Pate’s adaptation nestles Life Is a Dream within a contemporary version of another golden age play, Cervantes’ Puppet Show. “We’ve updated the Puppet Show, which we’re calling The Cabinet of Wonders, to a contemporary corporate setting, and the ‘wonders’ are created by technology rather than just actors,” Carlson said.

University Theatre’s Studio Series presents four productions each season in an intimate and stripped-down format. Life Is A Dream is the first offering of the series this season.

Tickets are $10 for the general public and $7 for students, and can be purchased through, by phone at 706/542-4400, in-person at the Performing Arts Center box office or at the door before the show. For more information, see