The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain has recently produced its very own Ukulele opera, ‘Dreamspiel’, which was premiered at the Arcola Theatre's 'Grimebourne Opera Festival'. The music is written by George Hinchliffe and the lyrics are by San Francisco playwright Michelle Carter.
Dreamspiel is a response to ‘The Third Reich of Dreams’ by Charlotte Beradt, a journalist. While living in Germany in the 1930s, she secretly gathered the dreams of ordinary Germans, encoded them and smuggled them out of the country. These "diaries of the night", were independent of conscious will. They were, so to speak, "dictated to them by the dictatorship". Some dreams reflected painful political realities and inner worlds of fear and confusion. Some dreams prophetically recognized the aims and principles of totalitarianism and their consequences. One dream is of "the Abolition of Walls", of losing the right to privacy, a consequence of us not recognizing the pernicious effects of totalitarian tendencies, pressure and propaganda, and compliance with them. Current increased claims for the necessity of secret protection from uncertain menace, and for increased surveillance, are matched by the consequent contemporary relevance of this material, which speaks to us today beyond the personal or historical. Furthermore, some dreams reflect resistance: "I dreamt it was forbidden to dream, but I did anyway", or relief, and epiphany: "I don't always have to say no anymore".
The dream images are reminiscent of Beckett, Orwell, and Gunter Grass before Endgame, 1984, or The Tin Drum were ever written. They are painful, farcical, satirical and theatrical. When this is combined with the individuality and diversity which the Ukulele Orchestra bring to group performance, an audience is brought closer to the political realities of ordinary life; it's fears, prejudices and ecstasies.