Walking home from coffee and gym, I’ve realized that my brain is stuck in editing mode. So I resolve to write at least a page a day off the top of the head and without objective, except to do it.
I’ve been having dreams that are vaguely theatrical, though I’ve rejected this, with regret, as my life path into the future, a pleasure mixed with grief, like most of life. The dreams take place, most often, in a large, non-theatrical room—a cafeteria, gym, or some undefined locale with fluorescent lighting. We’ve done lots of those, once playing in a women’s lingerie department and a number of prisons. The dreams involve, always, getting set for a show, unless the getting-set is the doing it, or having done it while packing the van to get out of there and on to the next. There’s always a fatal problem. Sometimes the pieces of the set won’t fit in the van. Sometimes the cast is scattered all over the place, and as director I can’t command attention. Sometimes spectators are gathering to see a play that hasn’t been written. Or if it’s Shakespeare, I’m playing a major role but don’t know the lines, and I have a quick costume change but can’t find the shirt or the rack or the room. The play goes on without me, and Ophelia yells, “Fuck!” It’s a modern adaptation.
I see it coming. The play henceforth will go on without me. It drags on, it’s perpetually overwrought, the cast changes, and they’re making it up fromscratch. The jokes are botched, it’s repetitious, too clunky, too violent but without a fight coach. It’s lifelike, yes, but it needs another draft, where characters recall their objectives, and it’s not such a muddle. We’re born as fragments of ourselves. It’s as if we slide out of the birth canal, past the grip of the midwife, and splat on the floor. “Welcome to Life!” sings the choir. And I look for the costume rack. Only eighty or ninety years to find the shirt that gives me my character.
Last night, I was involved in a show that would feature Marlon Brando, despite the fact that he’s long since dead. But I had no script, no sense whether it would be stage or screen, and Brando was never present. Yet the dream would feature Brando. It slowed to a crawl as I rolled clockwise in bed, and then it was only fragments of sleep.
What does this suggest to the stunted mind which is mine? Do I simply say “What the hell!” and let it lie there? Do I change the cat litter? Do I push out the sides of the van to get all the stuff in? It may be, of course, that I simply turn clockwise in the bed and tuck the pillow more firmly under my head. You sort of feel, in fact, what you might be in rehearsal for. I never ask who’ll want to see it. That’s good business practice, but I wouldn’t know how to do it. I simply think, well, it’ll find its audience or it won’t.
And I wonder if folks who’ve never been in theatre manage to dream without anxieties? Where the play goes as scheduled, it all fits in the van, and you find your shirt? Or is all teeming humanity beset by stress through the dark and stormy night?