Rambert: Life is a Dream

Rambert: Life is a Dream

credit: Johan Persson

Choreographer Kim Brandstrup discusses his reimagining of the 17th century play

It's almost 40 years since Rambert performed a full-length narrative dance work. So when they set aside their staple diet of double and triple-bills to present one, you know it's going to be for something special.

Choreographed by Olivier Award-winning choreographer Kim Brandstrup, Life is a Dream is a two-act re-imagining of Pedro Calderón de la Barca's 17th-century play, in which a prince who has been incarcerated since childhood is freed for one day. Such sudden exposure to life doesn't go well, however, and enraged by all that he's missed, the prince turns to violence and cruelty.

'He is seized, put to sleep and returned to prison,' explains Brandstrup, 'and when he wakes up he thinks that everything he experienced was only a dream. So when he is pardoned and let out a second time, he approaches the world with caution and wonder, as if it were a dream that could evaporate at any time.'

Danish-born Brandstrup collaborated with innovative American filmmakers the Quay Brothers on Life is a Dream, who provided sets and projections. But it was the late Polish composer Witold Lutosławski and his turbulent score that gave Brandstrup his vision for the piece.

'As I immersed myself in Lutosławski's music, a series of black and white images of Polish actors rehearsing in dark and bare rehearsal rooms kept coming to me,' he recalls. 'And so the piece opens at dusk in a derelict rehearsal room, where the director is drifting off to sleep. Images of that day's rehearsals of Life is a Dream are revisited, recast and replayed.'

Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Thu 22–Sat 24 Nov.

Rambert: Life is a Dream

New show from Olivier Award-winner Kim Brandstrup, featuring lyrical dancing from the world-class dance company alongside a live orchestra score by Witold Lutosławski.

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