A midwinter night's dream

Jan 29, 2024

Even though it was raining outside, Jackson Gillman brought the snow to a wintery performance on Sunday, Jan. 28. 

The performance, titled "A Midwinter Night's Dream," was part of a four-show cycle, with each show celebrating one of the four seasons in story and song. 

Gillman brought to life all the archetypal encounters of winter, from common childhood experiences to uncommon animal encounters, with plenty of audience participation. 

In one story, the audience sang along with Gillman as he went shoveling as a child with his father. In others, they followed him on an owl walk and wound up inside with hot cocoa. The audience and Gillman threw cotton balls around to simulate a blizzard, and tossed white cloths up into the air to simulate snowflakes falling. 

In the second half of the program, Gillman departed from audience participation and told a story blending fiction and fact from his life. 

In college, Gillman studied winter ecology at a school in Vermont called the Center for Northern Studies, he said. 

While he was there, he took on a project of tracking one particular otter, following its tracks and hoping to catch a glimpse. 

"My other friends were out studying other things, and they'd say, 'Hey Jackson, we saw your otter today,'" Gillman said. "You think I ever saw him? I never saw the otter."

Never seeing the otter turned it into a mystical creature for him, he said. One night sleeping outdoors in an igloo as part of his course of study, he had a dream of a groundhog chasing after an otter's tracks, trying to befriend her. 

Gillman wrote the dream into a story, incorporating moments from his life. The groundhog slid down a snowy slope, and plunged into the icy water of winter, the same way Gilman had. He read the story out to a captive audience. 

The other seasons will get their due in performances to occur in April, July and October. 

The programs are supported by a grant from the Wareham Cultural Council, with funding from the Mass Cultural Council.