Life’s a Dream at the University of Lethbridge


Life really is a dream for director Richard Epp, who can’t wait for the curtain to open on March 23 for the debut of Pedro Calderon do la Barca’s 1635 masterpiece, ‘Life’s a Dream.’
Margaret Rodgers (Rosaura) and Mike Sanger (Astolfo) rehearse Life’s A Dream. Photo by Richard Amery“It’s one of these plays a director waits his whole life to direct ,”  enthused Epp.
“And I’m finally going to do it,” he added.
 ‘Life’s a Dream’ is about a Polish king who has his infant son imprisoned, after fearing an omen that his son is going to kill him. Then, fearing he will be heirless, releases the son and makes him king for a day.

“The prince is brought to the palace where he’s a disastrous king, so he’s told that he’s been dreaming and is sent back to prison,” Epp summarized, adding he has seen the play performed a couple times.
“You usually have to travel a long way to see it,” he said.
“There’s a great set, lots of action and rich characters,” Epp said, describing the play as being very exciting with both dramatic and  comedic moments as well as a sword fight.
“When people think of the Renaissance, they usually think of Shakespeare, but the Spanish had their own style,” he said.
“As a director I approached it as bringing an old play forward into the twenty-first century so there are a lot of lights and special effects.”
 He said Pedro Calderon de la Barca was a prominent playwright of Spain’s Golden Age.

Written around 1635, Calderon was as well known and respected in Renaissance Spain as Shakespeare was in England. ‘Life’s a Dream’ is a great old masterpiece that has entertained audiences the world over for nearly 400 years.

‘Life’s a Dream’ was translated by Adrian Mitchell and John Barton.
As well as the turmoil between the king and his ne’er do well son, there is also an important subplot between a Russian girl (Rosaura) coming to Poland to look for her runaway boyfriend (Astolfo) during which where they have a huge quarrel about a picture as well as other  tumultuous experiences.
All the play’s original action and structures are retained and in the Spanish Renaissance tradition, both tragedy and comedy are presented, sometimes within the same scene.


There are substantial monologues set next to comic exchanges; flourishes of debate next to outbursts of swordplay. Themes emerge from the action, ideas about honour, free will and the limits of power against a landscape where time stands still and where dreams become reality.Margaret Rodgers (Rosaura) and Mike Sanger (Astolfo) rehearse a scene from Life’s A Dream. Photo by Richard Amery
Epp said the 16 member cast is working well together.
“There are a lot of new faces in the cast and some familiar ones,” he said.
“I think people will really enjoy the characters. What Calderon did really well is create lovely characters. But it’s all about the story. It’s a wonderful take on a good story really well told,” Epp enthused.
The grand sets are designed by Annette Nieukerk and captivating costumes designed by Leslie Robison-Greene,
 Life’s a Dream is the final main stage production of the season for  the University of Lethbridge.

It runs March 23-27 at 8 p.m. each night in the University Theatre with a special matinee on March 25 at 12:15 p.m.

— By Richard Amery , L.A. Beat Editor
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