Dreamers, the Conference: Reflection

Storyteller and theatre producer Titlola Dawadu reflects on Dreamers, the Conference, a participatory event that happened during LIFT's 2022 festival.

In life, we typically follow a pathway: we journey as optimists, pessimists, realists, pragmatists… or dreamers. A dreamer is someone who is audacious, thinks highly speculatively at times, is visionary. But we know that more and more of the world in which we exist is quashing those who are dreamers, so LIFT 22 ‘s summer programming was a chance to gather lost imaginations into a space to be found again.

In June, LIFT held Dreamers, the Conference. My contribution to this was to hold sessions called Dreaming Out Loud. The idea was for the guests (young people under 25 years old) to have time to bravely and audaciously think about the times when they’ve secretly prayed, thought, dreamt, hoped for what they want in life. However, my plan changed for the session. Within a moment of being with the guests, I decided to go with a thought that had been dancing around in my mind for a while and which I believe is actually happening to me. “What if your Plan A actually was your plan – plan?” What if that plan planned out? Or those dreams came true, or those goals were met? Or prayers were answered?

"Without dreamers, magic would never happen."

Then I showed the guests what a dream come true looks like. A book that I co-created that also has other people’s dreams inside collected and printed. I had the dream of an audition monologue book for actors of the global diaspora. The monologues came from actors and writers coming together and writing about the stories they’ve dreamt of performing. We talked about living our own lives in the direction of where we want to go. And all of this, the sudden change in the plan, the example of dreams coming true in my life, as the facilitator holding the space, was all to let them know that this didn’t have to be someone else’s story. It could be theirs. We constantly watch other people live out their dreams, especially on social media, whether they are true or not, whether they are authentic or not. We watch people living their dream lives. I told the group one of my favourite quotes: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” by Henry David Thoreau.  We explored the good, the bad and the ugly of being a dreamer. Of what it actually means to be a dreamer. To believe in yourself when the world around you is telling you you can’t do or be something. To keep trying, despite knock backs or barriers. To remove anyone in their lives who are not for them and are enemies of progress. How exhausting it is to be a dreamer, but equally how powerful it is.

Dreamers, the Conference embedded the very notion of what it is to dream and imagine. We entered Black Cultural Archives where the event was held, knowing that the space was also a manifestation of someone’s dream of celebrating African and Caribbean people. We were involved in a programme held by LIFT – an organisation founded by two dreamers 40+ years ago. The scene was set to gather and dream through poetry, conversation, song and food. I believe the guests signed up for the conference because they wanted to be inspired and excited and this was achieved.

"How exhausting it is to be a dreamer, but equally how powerful it is."

The best moments for me were the moments the guests finished a session or finished listening to a song or talk. I saw on their faces hopefulness, encouragement, reflection and determination. I hoped it reignited something in them to carry on dreaming. It made me reflect on my own practice as a storyteller and producer. I am fueled by my dreams and imagination and this I carry everywhere I go. I need to dream because it’s the colour against the harsh backdrop of life.

You know, we need more dreamers. We need more imaginations that can go against so many failed or discarded ones. We shouldn’t just admire the imaginations and dreams of children and think that as an adult, dreaming is not what we should be doing anymore. We should ignore people who say dreamers spend a lot of time thinking about or planning enjoyable events that are not likely to happen (Cambridge dictionary). Us dreamers, my friends, we are in good company. Noted dreamers in my opinion are Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Octavia Butler, Len Garrison and adrienne maree brown. Dreamers imagine a world that doesn’t exist, but should. Without dreamers, magic would never happen.




by Jalaikon.