Friday, October 22, 2010

performance anxiety

One of my typical anxious dreams is "I am in a play. It's opening night. I do not know my lines, my blocking, the songs I am supposed to sing, or my choreography." Everyone else has been rehearsing for weeks. I just showed up. I have to go on. I am embarrassed.

The night before last, I had a variation on this one. I dreamed I was at the poetry reading where I am scheduled to feature on Sunday. The cozy bookshop transformed itself in the dream to a large lecture hall at a university. It was a mirror-image inside-outside space, with tiered seats on the outside of the building, facing away from the stage, a door at the top, through which you could pass to the interior of the place, and seats tiered down inside to the stage. I arrived and looked around the venue, and realised there was room for several hundred people, and that I didn't know how I could be seen or heard by the ones who sat outside and the ones who sat inside. The organizers of the show were cheerful about it. "Just walk upstairs and outside, then back inside while you recite your poetry. Keep moving and everyone will see you." About that time, they also asked me to host the show, and to set up the lights and sound equipment in this monstrous inside-outside venue because "we are poets and we don't have any tech people."

So now I'm running around looking for a wireless microphone and trying to figure out a sound board and light panel, and people are showing up and wanting to sign up for the open mic, and I don't have a pen or paper, and they don't either. The organizers have neatly disappeared, and I'm not even sure what time the show is going to begin. Then this hairy guy collars me and tries to convince me that he needs to read his thesis, a three act play, during the open mic because "plays are the purest form of poetry, man."

Luckily, my alarm went off and I woke up.

I know that Sunday's reading at Poetic Justice will be nothing like this. But isn't it interesting how we rehearse for the worst possible scenarios when we dream? I don't often have bad dreams or nightmares. When I do, they are like this.

I also dream about missing trains. In fact, last night I dreamed I was on a train with a little girl. We were on the wrong car to get to our destination and the train wasn't going to stop for anything. So we were walking to the end of each car and climbing out the back window and into the next car along. I was conscious of protecting the child, so I handed her to a passenger in the next car, then climbed out and over to follow her. It wasn't frightening, more like, "Oops, isn't that funny! We need to get to the back of the train. Let's climb through the windows."

question: what do you dream when you are wondering what something will be like?

mompoet - sleeping imagination

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