By Brittany Crowell

12 Rooms.  12 Dreams.  En Garde Arts’ newest piece, A Dozen Dreams, captures more than a dozen hopes, wishes, nightmares, musings, lessons, questions, sparklets, and imaginations.

You are handed a headset connected to a listening device and stand, waiting, on the precipice of dream one.  You can peek a little bit of the environment while you wait: a decrepit dressing room and dirty backstage area left in disarray.  After a few minutes you see a pair of similarly geared dreamers wander out, and then a few moments after that your headphones prompt you inside.

Lucy Thurber’s “Back to the Country”; photo by Maria Baranova

The first dream is set inside a boxed wooden room in the center of the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place.  It is an odd installation to stumble upon in such a commercial space filled with high end shopping, businesspeople transiting, and young mothers just trying to get out of the house.  As you don the headphones, the tinkering of the mall music dissipates and you find yourself slowly welcomed into the dream-world of the artists.

The piece, created by Anne Hamburger with John Clinton Eisner and Irina Kruzhilina, truly transports you into the minds of the 12 playwrights that have been commissioned to muse on the idea of dream: what you dream when you sleep, but also waking dreams, hopes and dreams, dreams for the future, and dreaming to be better.

The voices and stories of these playwrights are partnered with the truly enchanting production design of Kruzhilina who, along with an army of artisans and builders, has built 12 distinct spaces to house, accentuate, and amplify this world of dreams.  Some designs are more literal manifestations of the dreams they contain, while others float the audience into a world made of metaphor.

Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s “Fallin’ Choppers Make A Mouf Real Sharp”; photo by Maria Baranova

One such space is Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s dream, whose room features collected colonies of illuminated columns.  At first these columns rouse up images of votive candles in an unworldly church, however, with the speaker’s first line “There’s a city in my mouth….,” they transform simultaneously into teeth and a mess of high-rise buildings.  Music comes into your headphones and you begin to wonder if now, perhaps, they might be more reminiscent of organ pipes.  As the monologue continues, the environment almost appears to shift with it; changing, clarifying, heightening both the poetic monologue, as well as the space itself.

The authors’ pieces vary in perspective and tone, vacillating between delight, dreams and demands.  There is something that is sure to touch each audience member, and I found my mind holding on to fragments of the pieces, moved by my relation to them or simply along for the whimsical and poetic ride.

Running through the end of the month, A Dozen Dreams is not to be missed (unless you can’t get in!).  A hodgepodge landscape of escapes and introspection, it is sure to leave you dreaming of what tonight and tomorrow may have in store.  Be sure to reserve your (FREE) slot today!

A DOZEN DREAMS – Co-Conceived and Created by Annne Hamburger
with John Clinton Eisner, and Irina Kruzhilina

Featuring work by – Ellen McLaughlin, Andrea Thome, Mona Mansour, Ren Dara Santiago, Rehana Mirza, Caridad Svich, Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Martyna Majok, Liza Jessie Peterson, Sam Chanse, Lucy Thurber, and Emily Mann.

Production design by Irina Kruzhilina; sound design by Rena Anakwe; video and projection design by Brittany Bland; lighting design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew; presented by Arts Brookfield for Brookfield Place New York and En Garde Arts. Through MAY 30.  55 minutes.