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BWW Review: Dreamcatcher's SUMMER SOLOS series promises a joyous return to in-person performance

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Wednesday evenings @ 6:30pm in Summit, NJ

BWW Review: Dreamcatcher's SUMMER SOLOS series promises a joyous return to in-person performance

Tucked away behind the Visual Arts Center of NJ in Summit sits a peaceful little lawn. It's a simple spot, bordered by shade trees and a stone path that widens into a casual patio along one end. The Visual Arts Center of NJ is a leading regional museum of contemporary art, and as you stroll onto the grassy patch of ground, you can imagine visitors wandering out to discuss art over picnic lunches or take to the easel at a painting workshop. But this month, on Wednesday evenings, the art-inspired gatherings unfolding on this verdant local lawn belong to the theatre. More specifically, four heartfelt readings performed by members of the core company at Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre.

Summer Solos, the playfully alliterative title of this reading series, opened last Wednesday with a beautiful performance by artistic director Laura Ekstrand in Ian August's one-woman play Donna Orbits the Moon. A rapturous journey of grief and love, the piece overflowed with relevance for an audience returning from their own isolated season of mourning. Though the crowd was small, the emotions soared, and the story-driven laughs and gasps, sighs and tears, felt all the more uplifting for their yearning. Before the show began, Ekstrand introduced audience members as family and friends - celebrating individuals for their behind-the-scenes work with Dreamcatcher. These familial introductions were a cheery reminder of the connecting power of theatre - that elusive thing we've missed while crowding around screens over the past year and a half. Remember what it was like to make live eye contact? To say hello without adjusting a computer camera? To create tension in the same air and the same space? It's been so long, so long since we've had the opportunity to take in a story in the same place. That extra element, the energy of a shared space, taps into a revitalizing state of coexistence. When it's been this long, the feeling nearly makes you cry.

So I encourage you all, theatre lovers and New Jerseyans eager for an excuse to venture out, wander over to the little lawn behind Summit's Visual Arts Center of NJ for a Wednesday of rediscovering togetherness. Dreamcatcher has a line-up of passionate tales beginning at 6:30pm on July 14th, 21st, and 28th. Last Wednesday, it was Laura Ekstrand's birthday, so after the show the audience joined in a roaring chorus of "Happy Birthday" to top off the night. Now, I can't promise you a birthday surprise, but whatever pockets of fun unfold in the Wednesdays to come, I can assure you they'll be full of community and joy. It's the little things, isn't it? Especially after the year we've had. Thank god Dreamcatcher is so good at the little things.

The Summer Solos series will include I Hate This (a play without the baby) by David Hansen on July 14 at 6:30pm; Harry Clarke by David Cale on July 21 at 6:30pm; and Forever by Dael Orlandersmith on July 28 at 6:30pm. Purchase tickets at www.dreamcatcherrep.org. All performances will take place at the Visual Arts Center of NJ, located at 68 Elm Street, Summit, NJ 07901. Parking is available in the lot behind the building.


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