Students from UCF’s programs in theatre, music and modern languages will join forces for “The Life is a Dream Project,” a theatrical production performed in Spanish and presented on the campus for free.

“The Life is a Dream Project” aims to bring a contemporary sensibility to a classical Spanish play. It is a contemporary one-act performance inspired by Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s play Life is a Dream, in which a prince, imprisoned by his father after receiving a fateful prophecy, struggles with the differences between reality and illusion, instinct and wisdom, destiny and free will. The production explores the transitory nature of life and presents reality as constantly transforming and, occasionally, indistinguishable from a dream.

Martha García, a faculty member in the Department of Modern Languages, and Julia Listengarten, a theatre professor in the School of Performing Arts, conceived the idea of a collaborative play years ago. “She teaches theatre literature from a world-languages perspective and I create theatrical texts,” said Listengarten. “We wondered what would happen if we were to collaborate, to bring something to life. What would happen? What would the challenges be?”

After receiving a grant to complete the project by UCF’s Office of Information Fluency, the two faculty members set to work on bringing the project to stage. García adapted the classical Spanish play and Listengarten worked with theatre students, including director Joseph D’Ambrosi, to cast the play. Both García and Listengarten have been supervising the production process. Once the production started taking shape, Nora Lee García was brought in to the team to add another language: music.

“Theatre, as a form of visual storytelling, transcends language and culture,” said Listengarten, on the topic of whether a non-Spanish speaking audience member would be able to understand the play. “We don’t necessarily need to understand words to respond to emotions that are embodied in the actors’ physical movement and voice.”

 D’Ambrosi is in the final year of his Masters of Arts in Theatre degree. “Working on a project with a language barrier was not easy at first,” he said, “however, the language was the least of our worries as the rehearsal process went on. The cast and I talked about the meaning of the play and how its message is universal. We talked about the character development and the goals that each actor wanted to accomplish. Because of these conversations, the language naturally fell into place and I could understand what was happening onstage through the actors’ discoveries. It showed me, and I hope it will show the audience, that language is not the only means of communication, but that we can communicate through our connection with the characters’ journeys and experiences.”

Tickets are required, but are free to all patrons. They may be reserved online, in person, or over the phone for the production in the campus Black Box theatre.

For more information and to reserve free tickets, go to or call 407-823-1500.

Production at a glance:

The “Life is a Dream” Project

Conceived and supervised by Julia Listengarten and Martha García

Based on the play by Pedro Calderón de la Barca 

Adapted by Martha García

Produced by Julia Listengarten 

Directed by Joseph D’Ambrosi

Music directed by Nora Lee García

Dec. 5 at 8 p.m.

Dec. 6 at 2 p.m.

A collaboration between Theatre UCF and the Department of Modern Languages

This play will be performed in Spanish.

Free, but tickets are required.