Review: NATURE OF THE DREAM at Two Steps To The Left Productions and Des Moines Playhouse: Waking Up and Listening to Black Voices

Uplift Black Voices

By: Feb. 27, 2021
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Review: NATURE OF THE DREAM at Two Steps To The Left Productions and Des Moines Playhouse: Waking Up and Listening to Black Voices
nature of the dream film still
Donna Scarfe
Antonesia Williams
Alexandra Gray
Kiera McGregor

You have a voice. You have a story. The life experiences you have, continue to add to your story. As your story continues, how often do you take the time to hear another person's story? How often do you take the time to listen to a person's story who is a different race than you? On Thursday, February 25, I had that opportunity when Two Steps from the Left Productions, with production assistance from Des Moines Playhouse, presented "nature of the dream," a devised theatre piece that uplifts voices and stories regarding Black identity in Iowa.

The experience of watching "nature of the dream" was something you don't see many times in theatre. We are used to sitting on one side of the stage and watching the entire show from that viewpoint. What's unique with this production is that it is viewed from multiple angles throughout the film. Sometimes we see every side as the camera circles around the action. Other times we see it from above the action. Another difference from the typical show you may see is that it isn't necessarily one story told through the show. Instead, there are many different stories throughout, all connected to what this dream is.

Review: NATURE OF THE DREAM at Two Steps To The Left Productions and Des Moines Playhouse: Waking Up and Listening to Black Voices
nature of the dream film still
Clifton Antoin

The film starts with the cast discussing their dreams. At first, the dreams seem like dreams anyone could have, but the dialogue slowly reveals itself to be the dreams and nightmares that each of the cast face as a member of the Black community. It transitions to a discussion of friends and family members of different actors calling to ask about what it's like to live in Iowa as part of the Black community and if it's worth moving to Iowa. The stories they tell share their experiences in school, college, and the workplace. They share the difficulties of being involved in politics, being part of a mixed-race family, and many other experiences.

Usually, I would start going over my thoughts on the show's creatives and cast at this point in my review. What was so beautiful about this production was that it blurs the lines between cast and creative. The cast and creatives built the script around the stories from their lives. Many times, the actors are telling their own stories. At other times they are playing people in other cast members' stories. The show's cast consists of Clifton Antoine, Darrick Burrage, Colo Chanel, Mar Feitelson, Alexandra Gray, Kiera McGregor, Donna Scarfe, and Antonesia Williams. Each actor does a fantastic job as they tell each of the stories through the show.

Review: NATURE OF THE DREAM at Two Steps To The Left Productions and Des Moines Playhouse: Waking Up and Listening to Black Voices
nature of the dream film still
Mar Feitelson
Alexandra Gray

After watching, I would highly recommend watching the conversation with the creators, which can be found on the Playhouse's YouTube page. I appreciated getting insight into the approach Director Miriam Randolph took to approaching this project. She talked about her goal not to educate people on the Black experience in Iowa but to uplift these voices as they tell their stories. By doing this, it opens the project to focus on showing the truth to these stories.

Telling life stories is essential. We must take the time to listen to these stories that are being told. "nature of the dream" takes the time to make sure the stories are told. These stories aren't dreams, they are reality. Through its terrific cast and creatives, it brings these stories to life in a way that can only be done on film and truly uplift Black voices. You can stream "nature of the dream" through March 7. You can purchase tickets at multiple price levels, from $5 to $100, with the total ticket price being given to Urban Dreams and the artist that created the film. For more information, visit nature of the dream - Des Moines Playhouse (dmplayhouse.com)

Review was written by DC Felton
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