Interview: Danielle Carroll, Playwright

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by Rachel Wilson

On Saturday, June 23, the Brooklyn Music School’s Musical Theatre Program will present the performance of “To Dream a World”. This unique performance features an original, fictional tale of a young William Shakespeare and how he imagined the characters for his works. As a boy, his dreams take him to four magical worlds, which are represented by the four seasons. In these worlds, he meets the characters who will eventually end up in his famous plays.

Danielle Carroll is an actor, writer, and producer who has worked on original shows with BMS in the past. I spoke with Danielle, one of the playwrights for “To Dream a World”, and spoke with her about what makes this show unique, the process behind it, and why people should attend it.


Q: What do you think makes this production unique?

A: I think that this production is unique in that it incorporates Shakespeare’s greatest and lesser-known plays and sonnets into a cohesive tale. It is a fun look into the imagination of one of our greatest playwrights.

Q: What was the inspiration behind the show/music?

A: I remember being little and having this little pile of dirt right outside my bedroom window. I kept imagining a flower growing out of this pile. I would go to sleep looking out the window and imagine this beautiful flower. And I remember waking up one day and actually seeing a flower growing from this pile, almost as if I had willed it to happen. I still don’t know if I made it up or it was part of my dream. This image returns to me time and time again, and when we began exploring Shakespeare’s plays, I remembered this flower. I thought it would be a fun and imaginative way into Shakespeare’s worlds. The rest grew from that image.  

Q: Why do you believe people should attend this show? 

A: Shakespeare remains the greatest playwright because the themes he explores are timeless and his characters reflect human nature in its many forms. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is especially relevant in today’s climate, and to see something like this allows us to examine ourselves. I think we could all use the theater to guide us into worlds not so unlike our own. Sometimes our imaginations are more powerful than we know.

Q: What is the overall process for putting together a show like this? 

A: Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration. It always starts with a small seed. The more you work with others, the more a concept grows and changes. Each layer adds something new to the story, and before you know it, the story has turned into something you could never have imagined. Working with Deborah on the text and her deep knowledge and love for Shakespeare was so essential in boiling down the key themes and creating this world. It comes from passion, and when you get so many talented people together who all bring something different to the table, magic can happen.  

Q: What is it like working with the students? 

A: Getting a group of 5-13-year-olds working on the same production is not an easy feat, but it is amazing to see the excitement and interest that they have and how they work together. Having the opportunity to introduce Shakespeare to a  young group of students is so exciting and important, and these students really stepped up to take on the challenge. The language in the play isn’t easy, as a lot of it is taken straight from Shakespeare’s works, and they have done an excellent job of bringing that language to life. 

Q: What was your favorite part of working on this production? 

A: Seeing the students discover Shakespeare and these new worlds for the first time reminded me why I love the theater. I’m from a small town and the summer stock theater saved my life. I couldn’t believe that all of these different worlds could exist right down the street from me. This is why I moved to New York and continue to do what I do.

Q: Do you have any final thoughts or anything else you would like to add about the show?  

A: I hope you enjoy it!