Daniel Schlusser | Life is a Dream
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Life is a Dream

The heavens were right to take away my freedom.
If I was free I’d pulverise this mountain
and use the rubble to build a staircase of stone.
I’d climb to the heavens and violate them.
I’d shatter the stars.

Twenty-one years ago, after receiving a dire astrological prediction, the king imprisoned his son in a mountain cave. Now, facing a crisis of succession, the king releases his son and orders the court to convince the young man that his incarceration was all a dream. With this radical treatment of a classic text, the audience are given an intensely voyeuristic experience of brute survival, the fragile interconnection between siblings, the deepest need for mothering and the dark struggle for love and power.

“What does the fly understand of the window pane it bumps against ‘til it reaches the point of exhaustion? Nothing in nature offers any such obstacle to its natural instincts as this: a transparent one. We know no more of the transparent void which separates us from others than the fly knows of the insuperable object of that glass surface.”

Baudrillard, Cool Memories IV

Press & Reviews

“There is theatre that makes us laugh at life’s absurdity, theatre that makes us weep at life’s tragedy and theatre that makes us quake and shiver by showing us the abyss that awaits humanity if we don’t hold fast to our moral compass. Daniel Schlusser’s production of Pedro Calderon’s Life is a Dream is very much in the latter category.”

Martin Ball, The Age

“Life is a Dream plays out the aftermath of damage: it’s clear in the neurotic repetitions, the infantilisms of mutual dependency and the relentless scapegoating, as much as in the complex denials that are encapsulated by mundane routine. In particular, it illuminates how traumatic shifts of power are domesticated and normalised, just as after revolution the king – Napoleon, Stalin – restores the lines of authority that have been blown violently apart. Freedom glimpsed through the lens of revolution is, after all, terrifying…”

Alison Croggon, Theatrenotes


Performers George Banders, Brendan Barnett, Johnny Carr, Andrew Dunn, Julia Grace, Sophie Mathisen, Vanessa Moltzen, Sarah Ogden, and Josh Price

Writer Pedro Calderón de la Barca

Translator Beatrix Christian

Designer Marg Horwell

Lighting Designer Kimberly Kwa

Special Make-Up Effects Dominique Mathisen

Sound Designer Darrin Verhagen

Producer The Store Room and Sarah Ernst for Daniel Schlusser Ensemble

Premiere: November 20, 2009

Related Content

Daniel Schlusser, original program note,


John Bailey, “Wunderkind Mysteries” (commentary on Melbourne theatre), RealTime #95, (http://www.realtimearts.net/article/95/9762)