Pandora Robertson would like you to lie back on her couch, relax and share your dreams. The only thing is — she’s a playwright, not a psychoanalyst, and our culture has replaced Freud’s couch with Facebook.
That’s roughly the idea behind Robertson’s new play, 13 Most American Dreams, which runs May 17 through June 2 at Cleveland Public Theatre. Inspired by a conversation with a Freudian psychoanalyst, Robertson’s work uses the stage to explore the individual’s search for meaning and technology’s role in that journey.
“I’m hoping the piece will ask a lot of questions, as opposed to giving answers,” she says.
Robertson aims to capture who we are as Americans by analyzing everyday anxieties, aspirations and quirks as they are expressed in sleeping dreams, daydreams and the iconic American dream.
“This performance isolates the aspect of not only who the actors are, but who we are as a community,” Robertson says. “It’s an extremely powerful thing. Our dreams really affect what we accomplish in life and what our attitudes are.”
And yet, she says, dreams cannot be discussed without referencing how social media and the Internet affect our thoughts and our individuality. By constantly sharing our thoughts and aspirations online, we are becoming a collective digital subconscious.
“As soon as we put our thoughts or dreams [online], we’re checking to see how many ‘liked’ it or how many comments it got,” Robertson says. “We’re getting this immediate feedback.”
For that reason, audience participation is key, says Robertson. So she created the Dream Line (1-888-999-9553), where callers can listen to dreams recorded by others or record their own. Several dreams will be featured as sound bites during the play.
“I really feel there is so much potential in each one of us,” Robertson says. “Dreams may be that ticket into the gold mine we have just beneath our skulls.”