Dreams are baffling in their ability to feel so real and completely impossible simultaneously. This perplexing phenomenon is the thread that weaves together the play “Giants Have Us In Their Books,” written by José Rivera.
Rivera was inspired to write the play after hearing an observation made by his four-year-old daughter that if giants are in our fairytales, we must be in theirs.
“The whole concept is that we are part of a different reality, looking in on our world from a child-like perspective. Everything is surreal and distorted, so everything seems real until a tiger enters Central Park, or a girl starts to turn into a plant,” said director Richard Muller.
A dream-like sense of surrealism is one of the only things the three short plays, or stories, that make up “Giants Have Us In Their Books” have in common.
One story, called “A Tiger In Central Park,” involves a couple attempting to trap a tiger in Central Park, a jogger who is mistaken for said tiger, and the tiger himself.
“Approaching the whole synopsis of the play is challenging because acting is supposed to be as truthful as possible and it is hard to know how to give a truthful portrayal of something like a woman building a tiger trap in the middle of Central Park,” said Sophia Guerrero-Murphy, who aims to do just that.
While unlikely situations like a tiger running loose in New York, and someone other than highly qualified professional setting out to capture it, are important in a play that is rooted in surrealism, the more realistic elements are equally important. After all, it is the real mixed with the strange that makes dreams so unique and mystifying.
“My character is one of those that isn’t as surreal, so my challenge was more just dealing with my friend being crazy, and figuring out how I would respond to a situation like that if it were real,” said Sarah Taylor, who plays the role of girlfriend in the story “The Winged Man,” which centers around a woman who believes she is carrying the child of a winged man.
In the story entitled “Flowers,” a girl approaching puberty finds herself transforming not into a young woman, but into a plant.
Transitions sequences between these three stories differ from the typical set change by featuring little scenes in which the actors try to keep the dream-like atmosphere of the play from being disrupted.
“We had to pay attention to things that are common over all dreams, like time and how fast and slow things move, just all the details that are a little off in dreams,” Guerrero-Murphy said.
Making sure these details were off in just the right way is one of the main challenges the cast and crew confronted.
“We definitely did some journaling and discussion on dreams and what might go into creating a dream-reality,” Muller said. “Hopefully that gets across in the surrealistic lighting, sound and costuming.”
The play will be free and will take place in the Large Acting Lab at the UCA. The content is not appropriate for viewers under 18. The show will take place March 29 at 8 p.m., March 30 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and March 31 at 12 p.m. More information is available at www.facebook.com/YPOCSU.
Music and Performing Arts Beat Reporter Katie Salka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.