Max Lewis, is a writer, director and a creative force. He also has Down Syndrome and has spent most of his life assuming that the inner-workings of his creative mind would never come to fruition; until he came across Electric Umbrella.
From the mind of Max, and realised by Electric Umbrella, ‘I am The Dream Machine’ is the first ever Pop-Opera of its kind.
Electric Umbrella provide a mouthpiece for people who are otherwise inaudible to the mainstream by creating a platform for adults with learning disabilities to perform. This close collaboration between artists, musicians and diverse individuals results in something unique and absorbing, empowering people who don’t otherwise have the facility to realise their creativity.
‘I am The Dream Machine’ is a true collaboration of world class musicians, composers and the ideas and talents of the Electric Umbrella membership of 60 people with learning disabilities; all working together to bring Max’s vision to life.
Electric Umbrella’s Artistic Director, Tom Billington explains, “We are a community of musicians, artists and people with learning disabilities and we make things happen that nobody thinks would be possible! The creation of the pop-opera is all happening in real time. The songs affecting the story, the story affecting the songs. Ideas are allowed to flow and the end result will be exactly what it’s meant to be!”
The story begins with Nick, a young man progressing into adulthood, struggling to keep grasp on his childhood dreams. His unique imagination has always taken him on fantastical journeys, but the humdrum of adult ‘normality’ leaves him feeling trapped. Rediscovering his forgotten dreams – as well as grappling with some nightmares along the way – Nick embarks upon a journey towards self-discovery and freedom of imagination.
The nature of Electric Umbrella makes a show near impossible to overly script or rehearse, so allowing for spontaneity, performances are often treated as one-off, with the magic unfolding in ‘real time.’ This, along with engaging, uninhibited showmanship, gives the audience what we all crave from live performance: authenticity, unpredictability and the transformation of their own perceptions.
Melanie Boda, Electric Umbrella’s Managing Director said, “This project encapsulates everything that Electric Umbrella is about. Challenging the perceptions of people with learning disabilities by empowering and enriching lives through music. We believe that working shoulder to shoulder with people at the top of their game, thinking around and beyond the challenges faced, we can make something that no one has ever seen before.”