Dream Feed: A Nightmarish Acid Trip

Serving as the mainstage theater production, “Dream Feed” was put on by The HawtPlates and Dickinson Theatre and Dance Department for three shows on the weekend of March 31. According to the show description, “‘Dream Feed’ is an electro-acoustic work that drops The HawtPlates and the audience into an extended dream sequence — steeping us in the humor, terror, beauty and allure of the active mind within a slumbering body. Using found sound, electronics and vocals the work will hover in a state of innovatory sounding and motion.”

I’m not usually a negative person, so I’ll start with the positives. I was blown away by the set design, which included a circular stage that rotated and made the actors appear to move faster, conveying a sense of time distortion. The seating arrangement was also unique, situated around the circular stage among lamps with blue light bulbs but without lamp shades, and old TVs which projected the same images, adding to the visual experience.

Hadley D’Esopo’s ’23 performance was impressive, as she signed the lyrics to the songs as well as performed choreography. D’Esopo’s addition to the play was a nice touch of inclusivity. I also noticed that many of the Dickinson performers were great dancers and acrobats. Many student performers were picked up, cheerleader style, and did a yoga pose called Flying Crow (look it up) which was held for a solid minute, as well as a push-up done on fingertips. Impressive. 

Onto the less positive aspects of “Dream Feed:” there was no plot. Yes, the show was centered around music and the theme of dreams, but it simply made no sense. The lyrics in the songs ranged from inspiring and motivational to simply confusing. Also, I was not a fan of the spitting out teeth motif. I understand that spitting out teeth is a common nightmare, but as someone who has a fear of teeth, I found it nauseating. If shock factor was the goal, then The HawtPlates achieved it. 

From what I’ve heard, some students that participated in the show were frustrated and I can see why. They were a part of something like an ensemble, and the best way to describe their role in “Dream Feed” is similar to that of Oompa Loompas in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” All dressed in the same white, drapey costume, the student performers would come out on stage, do a dance and maybe some acrobatics, then disappear. Some within the cast expressed to me their frustration with the lack of communication about their roles, and were less excited for this performance compared to previous. To me, their talents were misused as a MainStage performance in which the students participated in very little. I’ve been to shows before with the same actors, and they are a gifted group. 

Again: art is subjective, and this is just my opinion. All works of art are appreciated by someone, and “Dream Feed” is certainly a testament to that statement.