Thanks to an unprecedented collaboration between seven of Hartford’s cultural institutions, the region’s theatre audiences will be able to participate in a week-long engagement of an interactive new piece of virtual theatre.
Working Theater’s production of American Dreams, a mash up of America’s immigration policy and a high-energy TV game show, allows the audience to vote on who wins the ultimate prize — citizenship in the “Greatest Nation on Earth!”
The 6-performance run, October 27 through November 1, will be presented by a consortium of area non-profits: HartBeat Ensemble, The Bushnell, University of Connecticut, and Free Center in association with Charter Oak Cultural Center, Hartford Stage, and TheaterWorks Hartford. Tickets for the performance are available on a Pay-What-You-Want basis.
HartBeat Ensemble Artistic Director Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr. states, “American Dreams is exactly the kind of show we need for our times. It’s immersive, acerbic, political, and thrillingly live both onstage and on screens. I can think of no other theatrical experience that is more relevant to what’s happening in our country right now than American Dreams.”
It’s a game. It’s a show. It’s America! Imagine a world where the only way to gain U.S. citizenship is by competing in a live online game show. Welcome to American Dreams where each night the audience gets to choose who will become your new neighbor. This playful participatory performance takes a page from America’s favorite game shows and uses voting, polling, trivia and more to explore who and what we choose to believe-and how those choices come to shape who we are. As the show is live, audiences are welcome to leave their cameras on to join a sing-along, call and response, and applause.
Andrea Simakis of the Cleveland Plain Dealer states, “This smart, provocative play deserves to go on to be produced in as many U.S. cities as are on the map.”
American Dreams is created and developed by Leila Buck (Playwright) and Tamilla Woodard (Director) with Jens Rasmussen in collaboration with Osh Ghanimah, Imran Sheikh and the company. The cast includes Ali Andre Ali, Leila Buck, India Nicole Burton, Jens Rasmussen, Imran Sheikh, and Andrew Aaron Valdez.
With the election right around the corner, American Dreams presents timely engagement and dialogue around immigration and what it means to be a citizen of this country. “At the heart of this play is the principle of inclusion,” said Richard Hollant, founder of Free Center. “Who gets included in the American Dream? Who gets excluded? We are delighted to reflect that in a virtual – and in many ways more inclusive – world. The virtual presentation allows the viewer to contextualize the whim and randomness of place, land, country.”
All performances of American Dreams will be presented live on Zoom. Tickets are available to all on a Pay What You Want basis via HartBeatEnsemble.org. Individuals and households that book tickets will receive an email with an access link for their selected performance. The schedule is as follows: Tuesday, October 27 at 7pm; Thursday, October 29 at 7pm; Friday, October 30 at 7pm; Saturday, October 31 at 2pm and 7pm; Sunday, November 1 at 3pm. The collaborating organizations will present a community conversation on immigration and the importance of voting at a date to be announced.
American Dreams is a national virtual co-production by Working Theater, in partnership with Round House Theatre, Salt Lake Acting Company, HartBeat Ensemble, The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, University of Connecticut, Free Center, and Marin Theatre Company. The project is a co-commission of Arizona State University and Texas Performing Arts, with support from the JKW Foundation. American Dreams was first produced by Raymond Bodgan for Cleveland Public Theater 2018.