SALT LAKE CITY — After a four year long hiatus, Sackerson is back with a new theatrical offering in their true unconventional fashion. Sackerson is a company that has always been a favorite of mine, so naturally, I jumped at the chance to see In Your Dreams. What I have always loved about Sackerson and have come to depend on is that everything they produce is unique and fresh, as they have been creating experimental theatre and redefining innovation since their conception. Their productions are boundary pushing and go beyond the average theatre going experience to become something truly transformative. It is no surprise then that this is the case with In Your Dreams.

For the six audience members in attendance, chairs are set up outside in a small circle at a quaint amphitheater on Westminster University campus. With the backdrop of Emigration Creek just a few feet away, the natural setting is delightful. On the other side of the stage are two enclosed rooms, each about the size of an elevator. Reminiscent of Sackerson’s 2016 production, The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Done, and in keeping with the company’s mission statement, “New works, unconventional spaces, bold audiences,” audience members are guided one at a time into these spaces to engage one on one with an actor. They experience eight short plays, written by Morag Shepherd, Matthew Ivan Bennett, Ariana Farber, and Jesse Nepivoda. Outside of the plays themselves, additional material was written by Matthew Ivan Bennett, Ariana Farber, and Jesse Nepivoda.

The plays, while not contextually connected, are all interwoven thematically with the concept of dreams; both conscious and subconscious. Directed by Stephanie Stroud and Morag Shepherd, the exceptional writing was brought to life by the incredibly talented actors, the production’s greatest strength. Jordan Briggs, Juls Marino, and Brynn Duncan were extremely engaging and showcased some of the deepest vulnerability from actors that I have ever seen. The unparalleled intimate nature of this production forces a different type of connection between the actor and the viewer, even blurring those lines at times. 

Show closes May 19, 2024.

In Your Dreams is ingenious in the way it makes the audience member an active participant. Oftentimes when entering the rooms, the viewer is given a prompt and assumes a character themselves, such as a doctor, therapist, or client. They are also given props to hold, heightening the believability of the particular interaction in the given plays. For example, at one point it was made clear that I was a doctor of some sort and was given a notebook and a red permanent marker. While I watched the actor perform, I was keenly aware of the marker in my hand and the implications of that red ink in a patient’s folder.

I could discuss what I liked about each play, but for the sake of this review I will just say that I found them all equally impressive. The actors all succeeded in making me feel like I was a part of their stories. They captivated me with their emotionally compelling and deeply expressive performances. Throughout the production I felt a range of emotions. I laughed, I cried. I wanted to help these characters and offer them support. I was struck by the beauty of human connection and shared experiences, and the reality that sometimes the people who end up impacting you the most are unassuming strangers.

In Your Dreams also utilizes different media and activities for when you are not viewing the plays. Before entering the designated rooms, audience members listen to headphones that play music chosen to help prepare for the mood of the upcoming performance. There is also a table set up with various interactive items, such as dream interpretation books, letters, and a journal where audience members are encouraged to write down their dreams and read the dreams of others. This led to an even further feeling of connection, not just with the specific characters and their stories, but with all those experiencing this with me, as well as humanity at large. 

It has been years since I’ve had an immersive theatre experience and this production of In Your Dreams was invigorating. The contemplative and anticipatory vibe was food for my being that I had been missing. I had fun engaging in the arts this way and feeling a different form of energy that comes from live theatre. I applaud Sackerson for bringing this valuable type of theatre to our community and hope that they will continue to do so. 

This play includes content for mature audiences, including language and sexual references.

In Your Dreams runs May 3-19 in the Malmsten Amphitheater at Westminster University (1840 South 1300 East Salt Lake City, UT 84105). Tickets are $35. For more information, visit the company’s social media profiles (@sackerson_co).