Performance Anxiety

on Sunday, September 9, 2007

I had another one of those dreams where I am in a play, but something bad happens. Usually it is being suddenly thrust upon the stage with no idea what the play is or what my lines are. This time I was "fully prepared" but was unable to get to the stage.

Here's the part I remember... I was standing on the stage with the director, who also was a member of my ex-boss' family and we were talking as the audience was just starting to trickle in. He made some comment about how some actors will work for almost nothing and I was about to make some sort of dirty joke when we both slipped and started sliding down the rather severe rake the stage had toward the orchestra pit. I remember thinking "protect your hands and wrists," because I need them to play guitar. We both fell in, it wasn't as deep as you'd expect an orchestra pit in a dream to be, I came out unscathed, but my knee had connected with his chin and he was in some pain. I helped him out of the pit and he motioned for me to go get ready.

I love the lack of logic in dreams, the dressing room was in a completely different building. As I got to my dressing area I found the director's wife sitting there. While I changed out of my hiking boots and into my dress shoes, I told her the story of falling into the orchestra pit and apologized for hurting her husband, she said it was no big deal and offered to drive me back to the theater. I accepted and we headed for her car, me wearing one boot and one shoe and carrying the other.

She didn't bring me straight to the theater, she brought me to a house where she was going to pick up the rest of her family. I didn't recognize the place and I asked someone where we were, explaining that the play was about to start and that I didn't have time to wait around.

"The theater is just 5 or 6 blocks in that direction," I was told.

So I started off, starting to panic. "Fuck! I don't have time to walk 6 blocks!" I recognized the area as being the South side of St. Cloud near the SCSU campus. As I got closer I had to work my way through a crowd, "Why do they hate me?" I muttered to myself and a passing girl asked what I meant. I tried to explain about the accident and the family as I continued my way through the crowd, but we had to part ways, "Well, thanks for listening, anyway..."

When I finally got to the building the theater was in it turned out to be my old high school, I found one of the nearest doors and asked the first person I saw how to get to the theater. "Just go down this hall, second door on the left," he replied, but when I got to the end of the hallway there was a weight room, not a theater.

I started asking everyone I saw "Where's the theater? I have to find the theater!!" and was met with "I don't know," "I won't tell you," and "Me no speaky English," among others. My stress level at this point was extremely high and I was desperate to find the theater! Finally someone agreed to tell me, but he had to look it up on the computer and print out a map. Oh! the anxiety!!

I woke up with a groan of frustration and lay there for a good long time while my heart rate returned to normal.

I'm willing to bet that anyone who appears on stage as part of their life, as I do, has had dreams like this. It's a familiar theme, I remember a "bad radio dream" about getting locked out of the building the studio was in while I was on the air (it actually happened once with only a short amount of dead air), I have had dreams of being in a band but not knowing the song, being in a play and not knowing the lines and now this. Funny thing is I haven't been in a play for over 10 years.

I guess some anxieties never go away.