Singing Librarian flashbacks: Dreams

I don’t often remember dreams.  I’m not sure why this would be.  It could be due to my sleep patterns, or a side-effect of my utter lack of a visual memory (I cannot picture anythingin my head), or maybe I just don’t dream as much as other people.  Whatever the reason, I very rarely wake up knowing that I’ve had a dream, and it’s very rare indeed that I remember what I was dreaming about.  I do remember two different dreams where my house went up in flames, though, and my dream self has killed at least two people I know (so watch out, mwah ha ha!) for some reason.  However, I do normally manage an anxiety dream in the days or weeks leading up to a performance, and this is the focus of this flashback.  No insights into the strange backstage world of the theatre, I’m afraid.  Just into my head!

I’m sure most performers of any kind and at any level have had the usual anxiety dreams – turning up late; forgetting the words, or the steps, or the music; turning up with no clothes on…  But that’s kid stuff!  My sleeping mind seems to be able to come up with some wonderful variations on this theme.

Grease.  The first theatrical anxiety dream I can recall dates back to 1996.  In the dream, I left the stage following the ‘Greased Lightning’ scene and found myself somewhere utterly unfamiliar.  I hadn’t got lost backstage.  I hadn’t fallen down a trapdoor.  I was in another building entirely, and I had the length of scene 6 (about 3 minutes!) to find my way back to the correct building, grab the hand-held mic. and take up my position ready for the rigours of scene 7, including my duet!  Many, many palpitations…  For added fun, the dream was a recurring one, so I managed to get lost in several different buildings.  My dreaming self never did find out how this was happening to me, so I suppose I’ll never know.

Me and My Girl.  For ten years after that, my dramatic nightmares were confined to the usual – falling over mid-song, racing to the theatre at the last minute and that sort of thing.  But a week before Me and My Girl‘s opening night, I dreamed a variation on the forgotten lines dream.  In this dream, I turned up to one of the last rehearsals and we were doing the final scene of the first act.  All of a sudden everything ground to a halt, as the people around me began saying lines I’d never heard before, and eventually all looked at me.  It was my turn to speak.  But I had no idea what was going on.  It transpired that two of the pages of my script had been stuck firmly together since the very first rehearsal, meaning that I had never seen a good chunk of dialogue, including a very poignant speech for my character about the British class system.  Everyone present was simultaneously outraged and disappointed.  It didn’t occur to me to wonder why we’d never rehearsed this bit before.  Or why my idiotic character suddenly achieved poignancy.  I was sweating for quite some time after waking up from that one, I can tell you!

Kiss Me, Kate.  Now this is where I’ve really managed to excel myself.  We’ve not started full rehearsals yet (well, the show hasn’t been cast, so that’s hardly a surprise), but I’ve still managed to have two (yes, two) anxiety dreams about it already.  The first followed a sing-through where an administrative problem came to light, causing lots of running around for the committee.  This worried me (but then, what doesn’t?) and resulted in a dream where I turned up to the theatre for the first performance and was handed my costumes for the first time (we’d obviously not had them for the dress rehearsal).  The place was in chaos, I found I had two people’s sets of costumes, and it was never clear in my dream what sort of part I was playing.  I do remember that the musical director was in a panic because she was missing a trumpet player…

Thankfully, that administrative hiccup has been smoothed over, but I’ve already managed to have another anxious nocturnal moment.  The dream concerned the audition day.  The auditions were being held in a big, industrial-looking building, and we had to be fetched from another building to do them.  For some reason, the person doing the fetching was the Systems Librarian from the Library of Doom, and I didn’t recognise either building.  When I got to the place of execution audition, I discovered that the person auditioning before me was John Barrowman.  Of all people.  I don’t know if we were up for the same role, but I did know that I had no hope of comparing favourably to him.  Thankfully, I woke up before the actual audition.  I’d love to see more men in the Society, but that’s really a bit much!

I worry too much.  I know that.  It’s partly a result of perfectionism (either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective), and partly a result of my ongoing mental health issues.  Still, everyone has their worries manifest in dreams, and it’s apparently a good thing.  Most intriguing that mine only appear in this way when the worries are performance-based (as far as I know, anyway), which probably means that my brain is somehow able to process this sort of anxiety better than the more usual sorts.  During my last show, friends and colleagues were very concerned for my physical health, due to a lack of food and sleep, but if the dream is anything to go by, then a nervous breakdown wasn’t on the cards.  Nor is it now, though I am looking forward to seeing what sort of calamity will befall me in my dreams next March as Kiss Me, Kate nears its opening night.

  1. What are you worried about? The Singing Librarian or John Barrowman? No contest!

    ( =

    Seriously though, I imagine it must be very nerve wracking, and I am always impressed by people who can do such things. Having anxiety dreams about such things is perfectly normal, and quite possibly good for you, as you say.

  2. Singing Librarian is Bill Calhoun. Singing Librarian is Bill Calhoun…

    You mean you have never had the dream where you know where the audition is and you go all around the building over and over and all the doors are locked and you can’t get in? But there are people in there, and they can’t open the doors for you either?

  3. So,what part did you get?

  4. I don’t know yet…

  1. October 23rd, 2006
  2. November 26th, 2010
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