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Life is a Dream
La Vida es Sueño

Life is a Dream
La Vida es Sueño

Watch the new trailer here:

Written by Pedro Calderón de la Barca
In a version by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod
Performed in Spanish with surtitles.

A prince chained in a mountain. A young woman disguised as a man in search of vengeance. Revolution, love, murder – but in Life is a Dream, is the real truly real, or is it all just a dream?  

Cheek by Jowl’s first Spanish-language production will be Calderón’s astonishing play from the Spanish Golden Age. Directed by Declan Donnellan and designed by Nick Ormerod, it will be performed by an ensemble of Spanish actors.

It comes after many years of bringing Cheek by Jowl’s work to Spain and forming connections and collaborations with Spanish performers and practitioners down through the years. Life is a Dream marks the first play from the Golden Age since Donnellan and Ormerod presented their 1989 English-language adaptation of Lope de Vega’s Fuenteovejuna at the National Theatre in London.

Co-produced by Cheek by Jowl, Compañía Nacional de Teatro Clásico (CNTC Madrid) and LAZONA; in collaboration with the Barbican, London and Scène Nationale d’ALBI•Tarn, France.
Barbican presentation generously supported by The Polonsky Foundation.

Tickets on Sale:
Cast and creative team


Ernesto Arias
Prince Ezeanyim
David Luque
Rebeca Matellán
Manuel Moya
Alfredo Noval
Goizalde Núñez
Antonio Prieto
Irene Serrano

Creative Team

DirectorDeclan Donnellan
DesignerNick Ormerod
Assistant DirectorJosete Corral
LightingGanecha Gil
Sound Design and ComposerFernando Epelde
Movement DirectorAmaya Galeote
Dramaturgy AdvisorPedro Víllora
Assistant DesignerAlessio Meloni
Costume AssistantElena Colmenar
Sound AssistantGastón Horischnik
Lighting AssistantJavier Hernandez
InterpreterJuan Ollero
Publicity DesignerJavier Naval
Upcoming Performances

Upcoming Performances

13-16 April 2023London, Barbican, UK
5 May 2023Alicante, Teatro Principal, Spain
2-3 June 2023Budapest, National Theatre, Hungary
17-18 July 2023Almada, Teatro Municipal Joaquim Benite, Portugal
21-22 July 2023Gijón, Teatro Jovellanos, Spain
Previous Performances

Previous Performances

9-10 March 2023Albi, Scène Nationale, France
15 December 2022-26 February 2023Madrid, CNTC Teatro Clásico, Spain
2 December 2022Avilés, Centro Niemeyer, Spain
19-20 November 2022València, Teatro Principal, Spain
12-13 November 2022Valladolid, Teatro Calderón, Spain
22-23 October 2022Girona, Teatro Municipal, Spain
14-16 October 2022Seville, Teatro Lope de Vega, Spain



“A roller-coaster of surprises… Uncomfortable, controversial, brilliant.”


“Exceptional, highly original and surprising… we don’t remember having seen a more original, daring and transgressive staging of Life is a Dream.”

La Última Bambalina  

“Intense brilliance.”

20 Minutos

“Surprises and excites.”

Memorias de un Tiquis Miquis 

“Donnellan exposes the prodigious work of actors. He demands of them a versatility and an intensity that oscillates from the physicality to introspection, from laughter to grief, from lightness to the weight of the chains.”

El Confidencial

“In Donnellan’s production, joy and delicacy contrast intensely with the depth of the tragedy.”

El País 

“Actually makes us reconsider the gravity and the transcendence of Calderón.”

Alfredo Noval (by Javier Naval)
Prince Ezeanyim, Goizalde Núñez, Ernesto Arias, Manuel Moya (by Javier Naval)
Irene Serrano, Manuel Moya (by Javier Naval)
Rebeca Matellán (by Javier Naval)

“Life is an illusion,
a shadow,
a story”

“Donnellan’s production is grounded with agility, audacity and irreverence… the verse resonates more powerfully than ever.”

Prensa Social

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