Monthly Archives: June 2013

Dreaming

“I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was…”
Bottom, Dream IV.i.

After rehearsal last Friday night, I had a dream.

I dream a lot. Nightmares, constantly. Life-like scenarios when you wake up thinking “that actually happened,” all the time. Naked dreams, flying dreams, speaking-in-a-foreign language dreams — yup, all of the above, frequently.

No wonder then that since we’ve embarked on Dream my sleeping hours have been as hyperactive as ever.

Here was last Friday night’s scenario:

Myself (female, married, with children), a co-worker (also female, married, with children), and a fellow actor (male, and actually a monk) were moving in together, into a very small but lovely suite — 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, and a closet. It was a glorious day, and the sun was streaming through the windows — white walls, light wood floors. The center of the biggest bedroom, which happened to be the adjoining room, also featured a large indoor plot of grass. This grass was picture-perfect blue grass — the kind you want to lay down in and fall asleep. We immediately set to work figuring out the best sleeping arrangements. She and I would share the smaller room, since we all know he gets up earlier than us and goes to bed later — so there would be no awkwardness of crossing paths, or conflict with use of the bathroom. Then we got to work on our perfect little indoor garden.

I don’t remember much else about the dream, except that all of this seemed 100% rational. No one at any time said, “This is insane,” or “What the hell is going on here,” or anything like that. We weren’t in the least bit upset about it.

Analyze this however you want — it’s probably more revealing than I’d like it to be. But the next day, I couldn’t wait to tell my friends about this dream, for the sheer joy and smile it brought to my face when I woke up in the morning. Suddenly, I felt a lot like Bottom.

In that barely-awake moment at the end of IV.i. when Bottom relives the “rare vision” he has just experienced, I get choked up. I always feel like that dream is the thing that gives Bottom the oomph to go on, and when he returns to his fellow Mechanicals, his zeal is infectious and spurs them all on to their moment of greatness.

Sometimes dreamers scare me. Their ideas are so big, and usually require a lot of work, major risk, and 100% dedication, and the outcome is never certain. 

But what if I was more like Bottom? An ass with a dream, who’s not afraid to share it, or to take others along for the glorious ride. Something about that seems oddly appealing.

Word Made Flesh

Yesterday, we started on a 5-week refresher, based on Kristin Linklater’s exquisite guidebook to the universe, “Freeing Shakespeare’s Voice.”
Lying on the floor, standing there in a circle, with people I love and respect greatly, allowing vowels and consonants to have their way with us physically and emotionally — well, as one teacher said to us once, “I’m not sure what it is, but it isn’t nothing.”
I must remember to prepare myself in the future, because it always opens a door of immediacy in me that I find it impossible to close.
Let that “O” really drop into the belly,
give in to all that vulnerability that “AY” demands,
and suddenly I feel everything intensely, personally, devastatingly. I can’t turn it off, and frankly, I don’t want to.
The best advice to myself and others at this point has always been to pray for a thick skin, and a soft heart.
Danger, Will Robinson: this experience cannot be about me. My vocation is to be an actor. I am an emotional skydiver on behalf of my audience. I serve the playwright and his text. I open myself as a vessel for the character that has been created. I give myself to my scene partners. And if I don’t, then I am a selfish pig.
“Resist the sound for as long as you can,” Kristin Linklater says, “and when you can’t stand it any longer, give in to it.” I give in. It’s all there. I don’t have to add anything, or be clever, or anything like that — just available. Word made flesh.

Opposites Attract – Part One

I find opposites an absolute thrill.

In our Dream, we’ve discovered that the Mechanicals all have their foils in the Fairies. Peter Quince, Snout, Snug and Flute — salt-of-the-earth citizens struggling to stay upright and on the wagon — evolve into Peaseblossom, Mustardseed, Moth and Cobweb — amoral sprites who don’t hesitate to do…well, anything Titania tells them.

The Mechanicals also seem to discover their alter-egos in their roles in Pyramus and Thisby. During a rehearsal of 5.1 the other night, we found ourselves in the middle of a sort of epic Greek drama, involving elevated poses and complex choreography.
This is a rush. And I think it’s because all of these opposites have already met inside of each one of us, and they are simply psyched to be let out of their cages for a little while.
Taking it a little further, I think this might be why Dream is thrilling in general. In your own dreams, you can suddenly be anything and find yourself anywhere. The same’s true in this Dream: our inner monarchs, lovers, magicians, and warriors all show up for the party.