Monday, March 14, 2011

Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On

I have had several dreams in the last week or two that took place inside a theatre. I suppose every actor, and indeed every person has their share of dreams pertaining to their passion or hobby, and I am of course no exception. Yet the last two weeks or so have seen theatres brought into my dreamscape with a higher frequency than is usual, even for me.

I will also point out that they were not unpleasant. I have a recurring unpleasant theatre oriented dream. I won't get into that here, but suffice to say I prefer not to have that dream. Yet each of these recent ones have not been unpleasant. Each of them has had a few other things in common as well.

It's funny what you can "sense" or just "know" is true within a dreamscape. A level of understanding that may or may not be directly related to the environment, but is true to you nonetheless. I am sure you know what I mean by that. You dream of a group of people and in the dream you know they have been your friends, and are going to miss you when you leave. But they are not actual people from your life, and you have announced in the dream no intention of leaving to go anywhere. But you just know you are leaving.

It's like you are being placed right in the middle of all of the backstory, emotions, and sensory input of a moment, without having lived the entire life that leads up to it. Not all dreams are like this of course, but those are the ones I usually remember best, and these theatre dreams came with similar knowledge.

For example none of them have taken place in actual venues with which I am familiar in waking life. But in the dreams I "knew" I was connected to them in some fashion. A vague sense that any given theatre in my dream was in fact a theatre with which I should be familiar. (And to go along with that, some familiar people from waking life were present.)

All of the theatre dreams of late were during rehearsal periods, as in empty houses. No audience. Nobody is performing. Actually perhaps not even that, because in a few of the dreams, people were milling about in the house, back stage, up in the booth and various other places, going about obvious work, but not directly rehearsing.

Plus, without a doubt all of the dreams took place at night. I got the sense each time in fact that it was later at night than most people would find themselves in a theatre. In the dream it always "feels" like midnight or later. Yet there was an importance to what we, (as in myself and the cast of characters within the dream) were doing. There was no screwing about. This wasn't play time. We were totally immersed in the idea of getting whatever production it was ready to go. Or perhaps getting the venue itself ready to go, I cannot be certain.

But I think it is that sense of 100% purpose, drive, and dedication within these "dream theatres" that made them so memorable. Everybody there was committed to the theatre as a whole, and not just the particular venue in which I appeared in the dream. IN each case I felt a profound sense of belonging and mission. I am no Freud, but I considered what these five or so recent theatre related dreams of the last two weeks may have meant. I've come up with a quasi-analysis.

The sense of familiarity may represent the simple notion that theatre is in me, no matter what the venue. That isn't hard to determine. The fact that others were present, but none of them goofing off would perhaps be a symbol of those with whom I share this total dedication.

The empty house I have come to surmise may in fact point towards how dedication and passion for the theatre cannot begin or end with the actual performances, but must be present throughout. And those that are committed to such an extent will put themselves into it deeply enough to accomplish success whatever it takes. (Which is why, I theorize, all of these dreams took place so late at night; staying that late to get things done, despite everything else going on being an indication of the type of commitment I feel drawn to when it comes to theatre.

The last place in waking life where I consistently felt theatre working that way was in college. Late nights at the theatre. Doing all it took to get things done, whether it be building, painting, doing lights. Setting your day around what you would be doing at the theatre that night, and watching the end result make it all worth it. There have been some experiences that have held touches of that sort of experience since college, to be sure. But college was where it was most concentrated. Probably because college is different, and it was part of what we were all doing. And you could walk to the theatre. (As well as "break" in after hours, if you absolutely needed to do something.) You don't get that much in community theatres.

Jobs, and kids, and houses and commutes and 101 other things in "real" life tend to get in the way of most people at the community level engaging fully in spirit and not just time and physical energy. Not to mention the sacrifice of quality that sometimes results in the corners that are cut in amateur theatre, resulting in a less satisfying experience sometimes.

Actually I should amend that and point out that this is my personal experience. It is me who has not had many chances in community theatre to find myself in "full immersion" mode. And it is not because of commutes and jobs and schedules. It just that it takes a certain confluence of circumstances, personalities and passions to make it happen. And to be fair, in some of my community productions that has in fact happened. Or come very close to happening. I treasure the memories of those times.

And theatre friends I have who are scattered across the country report to me of  productions and companies and such that do seem to attain the "late at night/at all costs/art for art's sake" culture of my recent dreams. So, it is not impossible.

And perhaps that is the final impetus to my dreams of late. A projection of my desire to not only dedicate myself deeply to the art of acting, but to the nature of theatre as whole, whenever I can. As soon as I can. And to seek out those who are of the same mind. Those that understand they have day jobs and lives outside of the theatre, but love to make the sacrifice for it anyway. Not because they are paid to do it, but exactly because they are not paid. Art for arts sake. A spiritual form of making love to the theatrical. And when I find such people, my desire to hold on to them, tightly. (I know a few, as I said, already.)

But if that is the message of my recent dreams, what has changed? Why am I being reminded of these desires? Have I somehow forgotten them? Have I, without even knowing it, softened somewhat in my expectations with theatre? Or has the potential of the theatre to be life changing slipped from my attention lately while I have been too busy worrying about it's minutia?

Perhaps the dreams are just friendly reminders of what I am inside? Projections of what moves me.

Or maybe they were all just dreams, and mean nothing.

Yeah, I don't believe that either.

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