Posted July 1, 2015 by Editorial Staff in Art+Culture

California Shakespeare Theater continues its 41st season with Pulitzer-Prize winner Nilo Cruz’s Soaring Adaptation of Pedro Calderon de la Barca’s Life is a Dream

life is a dream
life is a dream

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Performances run July 8-August 2 at the solar-powered Bruns Amphitheater

Berkeley, CA – California Shakespeare Theater continues its 2015 season with Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Nilo Cruz’s powerfully-penned adaptation of Life Is a Dream, Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s epic tale of love, power, and destiny, Life Is a Dream. Directed by Magic Theatre’s Artistic Director Loretta Greco in her Cal Shakes debut, Life Is a Dream plays at the Bruns Amphitheater from July 8 through August 2.

“I am beyond thrilled to have Nilo Cruz’s exceptional adaptation of Calderón’s classic tale of a man who defies his fate to make a new destiny for himself, his family and his country, on our stage,” says Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone. “Nilo writes with such urgency, passion, wit, and poetic beauty that the words soar off the page. Add to this the great joy of having the masterful Loretta Greco bring this play to wildly imaginative life, and I could not be prouder to share this theatrical experience with everyone.”

The cast of Life Is a Dream is a blend of familiar faces and ones that are brand-new to the Cal Shakes stage. Sean San José, last seen at the Bruns as the title character in 2013’s American Night: The Ballad of Juan José, plays the prince, Segismundo, and Tristan Cunningham, whose Cal Shakes credits include last season’s The Comedy of Errors and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, plays the princess, Estrella. Others in the cast include Cal Shakes veteran Julian López-Morillas, who last appeared at Cal Shakes in 2009’s Romeo and Juliet, as Segismundo’s tutor, Clotaldo; Drama Desk award-nominee Sarah Nina Hayon, most recently seen in Magic Theatre’s Golden State , as revenge-bent Rosaura; Adrian Roberts, who played Claudius in 2012’s Hamlet, as Segismundo’s father, Basilio; Jomar Tagatac, who has worked throughout the Bay Area including Jonathan Moscone’s production The Happy Ones (Magic) as Clarin; Amir Abdullah, actor and playwright, who has appeared with Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Pennsylvania Centre Stage, among others, as the heir to the throne, Astolfo; and Jason Kapoor, last seen in SF Playhouse’s Ideation, as the Soldier. Mr. Abdullah, Ms. Hayon, Mr. Tagatac, Mr. Abdullah, and Mr. Kapoor are making their Cal Shakes’ debuts with this production.

The creative team for Life Is a Dream includes set designer Drew Boyce, a New York-based designer working in a variety of disciplines on projects ranging from theater, opera and live events, to film and commercial spaces; costume designer Alex Jaeger, whose work has been seen at A.C.T., Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Guthrie Theater, and The Public Theater, to name a few; lighting designer Chris Akerlind, designer of more than 650 productions for theater and opera in the U.S. and around the world, and whose work on Light in the Piazza earned him numerous awards, including the Tony; sound designer Cliff Caruthers, who designed Cal Shakes’ Tempest (2012), The Seagull, and Twelfth Night (2001), and has provided haunting soundscapes at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Rep, and A.C.T., among others. Movement for Life Is a Dream will be created by Erika Chong Shuch, who devised movement for Cal Shakes’ productions of The Tempest (2012) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2014).

Prince Segismundo has been locked up all his life by his father, King Basilio, because of an early omen that he’d grow up to be a monster. The king finally allows his son to see the light of day, but not for long: the young man goes on a rampage and ultimately battles his father for power. Meanwhile, a young woman, Rosaura comes dressed as a man to avenge her honor for being spurned by her lover, Astolfo, who abandoned her for his own ambition. Worlds and families collide as the play culminates in an epic battle that leads to forgiveness and the waking from a dream where ‘happily-ever-after’ assumes the seat of rightful power.


LIFE IS A DREAM Special Events

Inside Scoop, Monday, June 22, 6:30-8pm, Orinda Library
Audiences are invited to a sneak peek at the upcoming production halfway through the rehearsal process with the director and members of the cast, moderated by Cal Shakes Resident Dramaturg Philippa Kelly. Complimentary sweet treats and Peet’s coffee is served.

Pay-What-You-Can Preview, Wednesday, July 8, 8pm
The first preview of each show is a special Pay-What-You-Can performance. Tickets are first-come, first-served, and available beginning at 6pm day of show only; to purchase, call the Cal Shakes Box Office at 510.548.9666 or visit the Bruns Amphitheater Box Office. Supply is limited.

Opening Night Post-Show Party, July 11, following the performance
Experience the excitement of the opening night performance and then mingle with the cast and creative team at a complimentary post-show party.

“Write Together”, July 12, 2pm, followed by the 4pm matinee
Triangle Lab’s “Celebrate the Artist in Everyone” event: Bring your notebook or laptop and write on the beautiful Bruns grounds with 4 celebrated Bay Area writers. The event includes presentations by authors on their own process, writing prompts, and personal writing time. Event is free and open to all; ticket to Life Is a Dream purchased separately.

Tuesday Tastings, Tuesdays, July 14, 21, and 28, beginning at 6pm
Taste the best of the Bay Area’s wine, beer, coffee, sweets, and savories for free on Tuesdays before the performance.

Teen Night, Tuesday, July 14; 6pm event, 7:30pm performance
A special event just for teens ages 13–18. Come hang out in the Upper Grove; we’ll provide the pizza and soda, a special backstage tour, and a pre-show engagement with one of our teaching artists before the show. Call 510.809.3290 for tickets and more info.

Open-captioned performance, Wednesday, July 15, 7:30pm
Special seating and opening-captioning for hearing-impaired patrons, who can read the text and dialogue on a digital screen. Purchase tickets for section A online at, or call the Box Office at 510.548.9666. For groups of 10 or more, email or call 510.809.3290.

Meet the Artists, Sundays, July 12 and July 26, following the 4pm performance
Audience members enjoy an opportunity to engage in a lively discussion about the production with cast members following select 4pm matinee performances. Free and open to all.

InSight Matinee, Sunday, July 19, following the 4pm matinee
Explore the world of the play through an informal dialogue with the production’s dramaturg following select 4pm performances. Free and open to all.

Grove Talks, 45 minutes before each performance
Led by resident Grove Talks speakers, these free, informal 20-minute talks are held on site 45 minutes before each and every performance in the ADA-accessible Grove Talk grove, offering invaluable insight into the play and the production.