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Serious Play! presents ‘Blind Dreamers’ at Mount Holyoke College this weekend

  • PHOTO BY ELLEN AUGARTEN<br/>A scene, "Grid Walk," from "Blind Dreamers"
  • PHOTO BY ELLEN AUGARTEN<br/>Kaliis Smith, left, and Carissa Dagenais in "Blind Dreamers"<br/><br/>

Last year, the Valley theatrical troupe Serious Play! invoked the late German choreographer, Pina Bausch, with a new ensemble piece that paid homage to Bausch’s creative process and her influence on modern dance. “Blind Dreamers” combined elements of movement, dance, theater and music as it told a story based on the cast members’ own lives and experiences.

Now Serious Play! is back with a new version of “Blind Dreamers” that director Sheryl Stoodley says is “substantially different” from the debut performance, with five returning actors from last year’s production and five new ones. With a different set of performers, she notes, the story that emerged during rehearsals has changed significantly.

“There are five new stories and physical vocabularies,” Stoodley said in an email. “The movement is new and clear and metaphoric.”

The revamped “Blind Dreamers” will be staged Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Kendall Studio Theater at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley. Next week, the production will also run for three nights in the Irondale Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

As he did for last year’s show, Valley guitarist John Sheldon has composed original music that he will perform live, based on his observations of the actors’ movements and the show’s overall dynamic.

“I paint the sounds into the field where the action is happening, being careful not to put too much sound into the picture, or too little,” Sheldon said.

Stoodley, the founder of Serious Play!, says that kind of improvisational approach is central to all of “Blind Dreamers.” Much as Bausch built her shows by having dancers act out their memories through movement during rehearsals, Stoodley, choreographer Lisa Enzer and the 10 actors have collectively built their piece by having the actors create movement and some dialogue based on their own experiences.

That ensemble-based work has been melded and honed to “create a portrait of a family and to explore what lies beneath the veneer of polite civility,” Stoodley says. “Actors symbolizing the personae of each family member are paired with representations of their inner selves. As the arc of the narrative grows, buried secrets are revealed and controlled appearances unravel.”

Tickets for “Blind Dreamers,” at the Kendall Studio Theater at Mount Holyoke College, are $15. They can be purchased in advance by calling 320-3147 or sending an email to seriousplaytheatre@gmail.com.; tickets can also be purchased at the door. Additional information is available at seriousplay.org.

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