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Just Released

nature of the dream, Black Iowan Stories, opens Feb.25 at Des Moines Playhouse


Des Moines Playhouse Press Release:

nature of the dream, a devised film exploring Black identity in Iowa, will debut at 7:00 PM, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. It will be available for viewing through Sunday, Mar. 7, 2021. Directed by Miriam Randolph and produced by Two Steps to the Left Productions with assistance from The Des Moines Playhouse, the film is an exploration of maintaining Black identity in predominantly white spaces. nature of the dream video-on-demand will be available at In order to make nature of the dream accessible to as many as possible, viewers can choose from a variety of ticket prices ranging from $5 to $100. The full ticket price will be shared by Urban Dreams and nature artists.

Immediately following the film’s Feb. 25 premiere, there will be a live conversation with the creators on The Playhouse’s Facebook page. A Facebook account is not needed to view this conversation, nor do individuals need to purchase the film to participate. The conversation will be recorded and posted on The Playhouse’s website and YouTube channel and on Two Steps to the Left Productions’ website for future viewing.

nature of the dream has its origins in devised theatre. Devised theatre is a freeform style in which all members of the creative group work collectively and collaboratively to create a performance completely from scratch. There is no script involved prior to the devising process, but rather the script gets written along the way. Due to COVID-19, this finished product is a film rather than theatre.

Randolph said, “We wanted to give Black actors and creatives a safe space to express themselves in ways they may not have had in Iowa prior to this project. Too often Black creatives are ignored or silenced and having a place for us to be artistically free is therapeutic and it enlightens us.”

Prep Iowa

The title nature of the dream is a double entendre of sorts, referring to both how the American dream applies, or does not apply, to Black citizens in America and also to personal dreams that Black Americans have. Using the latter helped form a narrative explanation for how each ensemble member would be able to portray multiple characters in the film. Randolph explained, “There’s a theory that when we sleep we may all be interconnected in a dream world. In the devising process, one of my actors brought that up and I loved that idea. We all have multiple dreams in our lives and each plays a different role in each others’. I wanted to embrace this theory through set design, lighting, and music.”

Once the script was developed, Two Steps to the Left Productions filmed in The Playhouse’s Kate Goldman Theatre and at locations around Des Moines including the Des Moines Art Center.

Katy Merriman, artistic director of The Playhouse, said working and sharing resources with Two Steps to the Left Productions fit perfectly with the theatre’s mission. “Theatre is storytelling. The Playhouse wants to share more of our community’s stories.”

The nature of the dream creative team is led by an ensemble of actors featuring Clifton Antoine, Darrick Burrage, Colo Chanel, Mar Feitelson, Alexandra Gray, Kiera McGregor, Miriam Randolph, Donna Scarfe, and Antonesia Williams. nature of the dream’s production team includes Miriam Randolph (director, producer), Micah Ariel James (dramaturg, co-producer), Kierra Lewis (producer, assistant director), Henry Parizek (producer, music, sound), Ethan Seiser (production manager, lighting), Chase Stine (director of photography), and Alex Wortherly (production manager, lighting). Playhouse staff members Katy Merriman (artistic director), Angela Lampe (costumer, associate artistic director), Tim Harris (technical director), and Virgil Kleinhesselink (master electrician) also provided assistance.

In support of the film, Raygun has produced, in collaboration with the nature team, a promotional tee shirt, UPLIFT BLACK VOICES IN ALL SPACES: NATURE OF THE DREAM. A portion of these proceeds will also be donated to Urban Dreams and nature of the dream artists.

nature of the dream artists chose to share proceeds from the film and merchandise with Urban Dreams because this film is about uplifting underrepresented voices in Iowa. The team said, “This film comes from the community. It would be wrong to not give back in every way that we can. Urban Dreams advocates for all members of the community, breaking down barriers to success and collaborating with area organizations to overcome obstacles and uplift underserved and underrepresented people.” Founded in 1985, the Urban Dreams vision is to create equal opportunity and access for all to pursue their dreams.

Two Steps to the Left Productions began in 2017. For the last few years, artists Miriam Randolph and Henry Parizek have been making projects in film, television, stage, and audio in California and Iowa.

Miriam Randolph (she/her/hers) is an actor, writer, director, and producer originally from Chicago. A graduate of the University of Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts, she is an artist dedicated to exploring and creating stories that feature diverse perspective and backgrounds. Randolph directed and starred in George, a play that was part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2019 and winner of the Encore Producer’s Award. She co-produced and assistant directed the feature film Treason, which is available to rent or buy on all VOD platforms.

Kierra Lewis (she/her/hers) is a creative producer who is committed to producing transformative stories full of culture and levity. She has been producing films, news segments, and short-form content for the past several years. Lewis developed a profound appreciation for the art of storytelling at a young age. She is heavily influenced by early African American literature and films, ultimately leading to her passion and trajectory in cinema. Lewis’ recently produced films include: Behind You (2020), currently on the festival trail, Shangri-La (post-production), and Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town (post-production). In development is Lewis’ thesis, Miss S.U.I., a short film scheduled for production in summer 2021. Other projects in development include Grandma’s Hands and Naturally Quarantine, both to be shot in Chicago. When she’s not on set, she works full-time as the program coordinator for Sisters in Cinema, a Chicago based non-profit with an exclusive mission to center and celebrate Black girls, women, and gender non-conforming media makers. Whether she’s on or off set, Lewis makes sure her work centers around marginalized groups that are often neglected in television and film. She has a B.A. in journalism and mass communications and is set to earn her M.F.A. in creative producing for television and film from Columbia College Chicago this spring.

Henry Parizek (he/him/his) is a producer, director, actor, and musician from Des Moines. Bouncing from spot to spot, Parizek considers himself a chameleon in the production process, serving whichever role and wherever he is needed based off each respective project. He has served as producer on nearly all of Two Steps to the Left’s productions including, Treason, George, Errands, They Said to Get Better, and the upcoming nature of the dream and the whodunnit audio series, The Parting of the Shoe.

The Playhouse is Iowa’s oldest and largest producing theatre. Located at the 42nd Street exit of I-235, the theatre has presented a full season of shows since 1919 and also offers a wide variety of educational experiences including classes for ages 4 to adult, theatre trips to New York, and volunteer opportunities onstage and backstage.

For more information on The Playhouse and nature of the dream, contact The Playhouse at 515.974.5370.


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