Welcome to...

The Dream of the Burning Boy

by David West Read

directors note

Well, here we are again. Except this time we’re The Nerve. The last time you saw us, we were The Playground, it was October of 2019, and we were collaborating with our friends at UD on Stained Glass.

Live theatre has returned and though the theatre life feels so familiar to us, at the same time, it feels so strange, uniquely vulnerable and honestly kind of scary. The pandemic has changed us all, in some good ways and some not so good ways. Stepping back into creating again certainly hasn’t been easy. It’s fitting that this is our first official show as The Nerve because in many ways, it’s felt like we’ve had to start all over again.

Creating raw, real, and relevant theatre has been our mantra since we began in 2014. We strive to tell stories and create experiences that will not only entertain, but affect people. We believe strongly in the power of the theatre and it’s ability to impact people in ways that other arts form aren’t able to because of the level of intimacy and immersion that the theatre environment can create.

Our desire to cultivate these types of experiences and tell these types of stories can be traced back to our time in Chicago, and ironically when we saw a production of The Dream of the Burning Boy. It was the first time either of us had experienced a play that was this intimate and where the audience was so close to the action. I’d heard the term, “fly on the wall” theatre, but I never truly understood what it meant until I saw this play. In many ways, this play was the reason we were inspired to start The Nerve (formerly The Playground) and why to this day we work extremely hard to try and create the kind of visceral experience for an audience where they forget they are watching a play.

We had originally planned on producing this play in the summer of 2020, but had to cancel of course due to the pandemic. But everything happens for a reason because I think this play is even more poignant to produce now than it was then. The Dream of the Burning Boy is about finding hope through tragedy and the importance of living each day without regret because you never know when your last day on this earth will be. I think it’s safe to say we have all faced our own mortality this past year-and-a-half in ways that we never have before. We’ve learned about what matters most to us in life. We’ve clung tighter to ones we love. We’ve hoped, we’ve prayed, and we’ve reflected on how this experience has changed us. We are now getting to know the people we’ve become as we venture back out into the world.

So, here we are. We are back and we are ready to tell stories again. Thank you for being here with us and thank you for supporting the return of live theatre.

And thank you so much to our wonderful creative team for reigniting and reinvigorating our love for this work. We are so happy to have gone on this journey with all of you.

We love you all.

Please enjoy the show.

Jenna Valyn

Indigenous Land Acknowledgement

The land the PNC Arts Annex in Dayton, Ohio is built upon is home to the following indigenous tribes: Kaskaskia, Osage, Shawanwaki/Shawnee, Myaamia, Adena, & Hopewell

ClickTap on an artist to view their bio.














Jenna Valyn, Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of The Nerve Theatre in Dayton, Ohio

Jenna Valyn

Music Supervisor + Set & Costumes


Chris Hahn, Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of The Nerve Theatre in Dayton, Ohio

Chris Hahn

Sound Designer


Crew Members


Show Shadows



Dig the sound?

Check out our official Spotify Playlist for the show and access all of our past playlists from our profile.

sponsors + support

This show wouldn't be possible without the generous support of our community.

Support the future of theatre in Dayton

We're SO glad you're here, but real talk... ticket sales alone aren't enough. The only way we can continue creating innovative theatre is with the support of our community and awesome people like you.

    Here are a few things you can do to help keep us around:

  • Snap a photo while you're here and tag @nervetheatre on Instagram

  • Tell your friends about the show

  • Visit our "support us" page to donate or explore more ways to give

  • Ask about becoming a season sponsor by emailing us at sposnorship@nervetheatre.org

“The Dream of the Burning Boy” is presented by arrangement with Dramatist Play Services. www.dramatists.com