EVENT: Dream of the Red Chamber, a performance for a sleeping audience

Dream of the Red Chamber Screen Capture

Times Square isn’t the most likely place for an experimental theater production of a Chinese literary classic, but in the basement of the legendary Brill BuildingDream of the Red Chamber, a performance for a sleeping audience tries something different.   This adaptation of Cao Xueqin’s (曹雪芹) epic Dream of the Red Chamber (红楼梦 / 紅樓夢) by director and co-writer Jim Findlay and co-writer Jeff Jackson eschews the traditional performer-audience relationship.  Findlay says, “I’m interested in what can happen when we get free from the idea that art is dependent on the transaction of the audience ‘paying’ attention. What if you don’t pay? What if I don’t ask? How little can we both do and still have something worthwhile happen?”

With forty beds provided as “seating” and lighting, video projections, and sound designed to evoke a reverie, this “literal dream play” immerses you in the blurred reality of the story and wants you to fall asleep, not out of boredom but as part of the experience.  Encouraging and facilitating shifting between conscious and unconscious states, the performance mimics the reality vs. dream dichotomy of the source material.  

Audience members are free to arrive, depart, and return at anytime to the nightly performances that include one remaining overnight performance.  While there is no wrong way to experience this metaplay, Findlay recommends that you not pay attention as you would to a traditional performance.  He tells the Huffington Post:

“The piece is a lot about creating a situation where the audience gets to think about how they experience art because they’re being asked to experience it in a way that’s so different than what they’re used to.

I always fantasize that someone could come into the piece, be there for five minutes, absolutely get it and love it, evanesce in a Buddhist-type way into a higher consciousness and disappear from the planet. Or they might spend 12 hours and get really frustrated, but still get something out of it.”

“Dream of the Red Chamber: a performance for a sleeping audience” Excerpt from Mt Tremper Arts residency from Jim Findlay on Vimeo.

Visit the Times Square Arts page and the play’s website for more information.

Performance Schedule

DAILY PERFORMANCES

  Fri May 9 5p-12m 1st Dream A Life Misspent
  Tue May 13 5p-12m 2nd Dream Vain Longing
  Wed May 14 5p-12m 3rd Dream Separation from Dear Ones
  Thu May 15 5p-12m 4th Dream Spurned by the World
  Fri May 16 5p-12m 5th Dream Union of Enemies

SPECIAL OVERNIGHT PERFORMANCES

  Sat May 10 5p-6a DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER
  Sat May 17 5p-6a DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER

Follow @TSqArts or call 917-797-5664 for any potential wait times.

May 9 – 17, 2014
Brill Building, 1619 Broadway; enter at storefront entrance at 1623 Broadway
Free admission

Image: Screen capture from “Dream of the Red Chamber: a performance for a sleeping audience” Excerpt from Mt Tremper Arts residency