A Dozen Dreams. A dozen women playwrights’ pandemic reveries, nightmares, fears and hopes turned into an art installation.

Below are photographs from the exhibition “A Dozen Dreams,“, at Brookfield Place’s Winter Garden through May 30.

“I used to have vivid dreams,” the playwright Rehana Lew Mirza says into my headphones after I’ve entered a room piled with packing boxes and a wall full of family photographs. “But during the pandemic [in my dreams] I’ve just been packing over and over again. Maybe it’s because real life has become so absurd, so dream-like, that to escape from this reality/Fun House/House of Horrors is to retreat into a world of boredom.”

“So honestly it’s been hard for me to dream lately because it’s been hard for me to sleep lately,” the playwright Sam Chanze says in another room, full of luminescent blue obelisks. “I have dreams of what I want my dreams to be.”

Mirza and Chanze are two of the dozen women playwrights who were asked at the beginning of the pandemic to share their dreams. Each dream inspired one of the dozen rooms in “A Dozen Dreams,” an art installation by En Garde Arts that is being offered at the Winter Garden in the financial district for free through May 30 (reservations required.) 

“When the shutdown first happened, I wondered how this was affecting everybody psychologically,” says Anne Hamburger, the founder and artistic director of En Garde Arts, who enlisted John Clinton Eisner and designer Irina Kruzhilina as her co-creators to turn her dream…into a dozen dreams. “I thought it would be great to involve a group of playwrights who were diverse in age, race and perspective.” But all women. “I just have a personal fondness for trying to support women artists. Not exclusively, because everybody needs support right now, but it’s been especially tough on women, especially mothers.”

The photographs below are of the dozen rooms, with captions that offer very brief excerpts of the dreams that the playwrights tell us about. Led by Kruzhilina, an all-female design team (sets, video, projection, lighting, sound) created each room to offer palpable interpretations of the wildly-varying dreams. Some of the dreams are literal recollections, straightforward like Mirza’s or elaborate and convoluted, some are dense poems, some deep dark musings, some bright wishes for the future. All are presented as three minute long audio recordings. Each (masked) audience member – only one (or two if in a “pod”) are allowed in each room at a time – listen to the recording while they take in the scene, and are given a total of four minutes before they must move on to the next room and the next dream. The photographs are roughly in the order in which you walk through the rooms.

Click on the photographs to read excerpts from each playwright’s dream.

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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