Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nightmare on Lawrence Street

I woke up yesterday morning from a nightmare. I dreamed I was in Springfield, Illinois. No wait - it gets worse.

I was asked to be in a show that was a sort of reunion special. It was a reunion for people who had done a lot of children's theater in the 70's and 80's, which of course I had. We all met in the auditorium of the old theatre I grew up in - whichis now closed, has been for years. The entire casts of several kiddie shows I had been in were there, all grown up and representing Springfield at its finest. I was surrounded by women, mostly a little older than me, but a few my age, all with bad perms. The one standing next to me was telling the woman on the other side of her about her home business selling canning jars with puffy gingham-colored tops and sayings on the side like "You're Berry Sweet!" Apparently she raised a grand amount of money for her church, which promptly sent the proceeds to the "Gay-No-More" camp. The woman she was talking to clapped her hands. "Oh, that is so spiritual!" she said.

I turned to my other side to engage a couple of women in conversation, but when I spoke I sounded like Slick and Sam from Q-Bert. I opened my mouth and this incoherent garble of noise comes out. People squinted at me, gave me somewhat frightened, somewhat confused looks, but never said "What?" or asked me to repeat myself. They just turned away from me and went about dishing the latest episode of Dancing with the Stars and complaining to each other about their screwed-up families. I distinctly heard one lady with a blown-straight bleach job and very bright hot pink lipstick complaining about how expensive it was to remodel her kitchen. Apparently she couldn't get the type of wood she wanted. She wanted it because she'd seen it on HGTV.

Oddly, there were very, very few males in the room. 300 people and almost all women. This is somewhat accurate of the Community Theatre Experience, but in Springfield, I always had good male friends in every show I did. In fact, looking back, there was never really a shortage of males... more of a shortage of "leading man" types. Although the male chorus we found for "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" was pretty incredible. Those dancing cowboys in their hats and chaps.... sorry, I digress.

This play we were doing in my nightmare was a very new-agey, expressionistic musical play. The characters were diverse - some people played animals, someone played an angel, someone was listed as "the manager," one was (I swear) "the Virtuous Madam," etc. None of us auditioned - we were simply asked if we would like to participate, yes or no. If we agreed, roles would be assigned by whoever was in charge... Of course I have no idea who that was. I never saw a director or anyone in a position of authority.

I was cast in a bit part: "Earth." I was disappointed at the size of the role, but this was always the case in Springfield - I virtually never got anything but chorus unless they were utterly desperate. This time, however, I loved the concept of playing Earth... There was no character description. Mother Earth? The element of earth? The planet itself? Without a character profile, I felt free to create my own. I did what I always did growing up; take the shitty part I was given and make the most of it. I stole a few shows that way. Besides, I really just wanted to be part of things, have fun, hang with my old pals and make some new ones. I began thinking about my lines and the scenes I was in, creating motivations and characterizations... doing the work of an actor.

Everyone in the show had these amazing costumes, like Dr. Seuss meets La Cage Aux Folles. Someone was in a glittery bodysuit not too dissimilar from the Lady of the Lake in Spamalot. Someone else was in a pterodactyl costume with huge elaborate structured wings that she could flap, easily a 15-foot wingspan. Several people were trees, with brown a-line dresses and green bodices, their arms and faces painted green, with glittery leaves and flowers all over their faces, hair and hands. I hoped I'd get a tree costume.

I was given a sort of brown track suit to wear as a costume, of a fabric somewhere in between burlap and terrycloth. No makeup or hair, no shoes, just "wear whatever you have." This was another typical experience of mine. Not in every show, but in a lot of them. If there were 20 chorus girls, and a trunk full of costume items to make outfits from, the costumers would work very hard on a few of the girls outfits, and sort of throw together the rest of our costumes from whatever was leftover. Costume mistresses used to say to me "Sorry, but we ran out of what the other girls have, and we made yours last." I just always shrugged and accepted it.

This time, I threw a snit-fit. I don't remember the whole of the conversation I had with the costumer, but I do remember the last thing I said before I woke up was "Are you lazy, or incompetent?" When I woke up, I was still arguing with her. I was talking out loud with my head on the pillow: "Why'd you decide to screw ME? Why not her or her or her? I don't have to do this you know!"

Normally I wouldn't call this dream a nightmare, but I woke up feeling so horrible that I could barely focus on getting ready for work, and I was 15 minutes late leaving the house (and of course late for work). Either I've been carrying around a lot more resentment than I realized, or this is all one big mental metaphor.

(Analysis to follow)

3 comments:

Brian said...

Weird. I look forward to your analysis.

Jess said...

For what do you think it may be a metaphor? I hope I didn't miss something obvious, but I would be interested in learning more. It's amazing how much you remembered!

Dr. Zoom said...

There is something going on with your faith there, but I'm not sure what.

Weird.