A song bursts from a silent pause from the stage…
A woman leaps onto a chair and swings her body back and forth…
She slow dances in a corner of the stage...
She lip-syncs along with the music...
In Dreams and Schemes, a one-woman performance written and performed by Audrey Gladson, familial struggles lead her siblings and herself to dance without reserve as their mother and father face divorce, their father drinks enough to pass out, and as their gentle childhood begins to waver. As Gladson adopts the personalities of her sisters and brother, we see through Gladson’s wide smile how these moments of dancing allow them to let go of childhood stress.
After a quiet moment sitting in her chair, Gladson leaps up and dances to Candy Man as it drifts through the microphone. In a darkened theater, she sings along with Frank Sinatra in a high voice as she drives home, holding her arms out in front of her as if she’s holding a physical steering wheel. Her quieter, higher voice complements Sinatra’s. Scenes later, turning to music as her protector, Gladson raises her arms up high, holds a fist to her mouth like a microphone, and rests her other hand on her head as she sings with Prince.
As Dreams and Schemes moves forward, Gladson’s voice changes as she adopts the persona of her mother, father, and her stepfather. She flits between her own voice and her father’s deep, aggressive speech. As herself, Gladson stands with feet firmly planted on the ground. As her father, she ducks her head and slouches. Her mother’s high lilt and her stepfather’s casual voice flip between one and the other. Secrets are unveiled and childhood begins to fall apart.
Emotion Runs High in The Agency’s Dreams and Schemes
All we see on stage is a backpack hanging from a chair and a stack of books in the corner, but Gladson uses what she has to create a powerfully emotional story. She sits on the chair, legs tucked up, backpack sitting in her lap with her arms wrapped around her legs, guilt on her face. She swivels her body left and right in the chair as tears pour down her face when her father reveals too much, too late. With gestures like widened eyes and changing breath, she lets the details of her story unfold.
We hear every word Gladson says. These words sear. With urgent force, she tells her story of the importance of her childhood and how desperately she wants it back. She stares deeply into middle distance, recalling memories with her siblings.
Story Fest is suitable for anyone interested in diving into a variety of actors’ true stories of truth, honesty, and love as told through theatre. Anyone uninterested in personal stories might want to take a step back.
Cast: Audrey Gladson
Director: Ashwaty Chennat
Thru September 26.
Online via Zoom webinar.
About the Author:
Annabelle Harsch is a senior at the University of Dayton where she studies English and marketing. While at college, Annabelle finds opportunities to deepen her knowledge in the arts, whether that includes watching theatre or film productions, or picking out a new book. In her free time, Annabelle enjoys hiking, kayaking, and reviving dead plants.