Dream Team: Students, Renowned Artists Collaborate on Experimental Multi-arts Work

Photo by A. Pierce Bounds '71.

Photo by A. Pierce Bounds '71.

Innovative production breaks new ground at Dickinson

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

Every night as we sleep, we create new and strange worlds to explore—spaces to process the events of the day, to learn and solve problems, to play and adventure and, well, dream. These worlds of our own creation bend the real into the surreal, the mundane into the magical. If we’re lucky, we’ll remember a snippet or two as we awaken. But for most of us, these solitary dreamworlds fade quickly as we go about our days. What if we could tap into the insights and allure of dreams while we’re awake—and share the experience? What if we could use our dreams to envision a better world? That’s a thesis statement behind Dream Feed, a multi-arts work created jointly by students and the HawtPlates, which serves as the Department of Theatre & Dance’s mainstage spring event.

Performances are on Friday, March 31, and Saturday, April 1, at 7 p.m., and on Sunday, April 2, at 3 p.m. in Mathers Theatre. Tickets are free, but reservations are required, and seating is extremely limited.  

The HawtPlates is an internationally renowned, New York-based family theatre company specializing in devised performances led by Black voices. Individually, members have been nominated for a Tony Award and have film, opera, fine art and Broadway credits to their names. The husband-and-wife team (Justin Hicks and Kenita Miller-Hicks) is currently serving a six-week residency on campus.

Since their arrival on campus in February, the HawtPlates have been guest teaching Dickinson’s spring Acting II class and working with students—inside and outside of that class—to co-create Dream Feed. Each cast member brings ideas and unique talents to the table, as dancers, choreographers, filmmakers, musicians, writers, painters and light and sound technicians. The final result brings found sound, multimedia and imagery, original songs, text and movement together to immerse audiences in a dreamlike exploration drawing inspiration from dream sequences, avant-garde cinema and Afro-surrealist works—with a nod to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Audiences will be invited to share spaces with the performers backstage, intensifying the collaborative, hands-on experience, which organically grows and evolves every night.

“It's really cool to see how everyone has the opportunity to put a piece of themselves in the show, whether through dance, music or in my case sign language,” says Hadley D’Esopo ’23, an English major with minors in theatre and educational studies and a member of the 27-student cast. “By working with the HawtPlates, we are able to get an inside look at how what we do in college theatre fits into the professional theatre sphere. It also offers us a new perspective of what theatre can look like beyond the more traditional performances we may have done.”

View more photos on Dickinson's Facebook page.



Published March 16, 2023