Saturday, November 15, 2014
Shakespeare and a Sick Boy's Dream
One should not be held accountable for one's dreams, right? Especially during an illness? Still, this one had me wondering about myself ...
It is intermission in a production of Antony and Cleopatra. I am in costume in a production directed by Peter Sellars, though the director looks nothing like the actual Sellars. He looks more like ... I don't know. He's a younger man, more like someone you'd see in a soap opera, someone who's having an inappropriate relationship with someone else's bored wife.
I am also somehow involved with the creation of some sort of prop, a concoction that resembles a ball of sourdough starter. I am having some trouble preparing the mixture, and I add a few things that don't help--like bananas (in their skins) and spaghetti.
It dawns on me, in the dream, that I didn't really know I was in this production. I'm told that I'm Antony's son, but I know that no such character appears in Shakespeare's play. I don't know any lines, but, somehow, I'm supposed to open the post-intermission action.
Now here's the weird part ... In my dream, I ask, "Is this a dream? Let me know right now so that I don't have to worry about the humiliation that's about to ensue."
I get no reply. So I decide to feign illness. I drop to one knee and tell "Peter Sellars" that I'm sick and can't go on. He seems oddly unperturbed (he must have seen me act in high school) ... I figure I can read Antony when I get home (where am I?) and be prepared for the next performance ...
Of course, I've been sick all week. Wednesday was an all-day-in-my-jammies day. Thursday was little better (I showered and dressed for lunch, then slept most of the rest of the day). Friday I was dressed all day but mostly lay around and coughed and sniffled and drifted in and out of sleep and felt sorry for myself. Today is the first day I've gone outside--over to the coffee shop in late morning to do my Kirkus reading (I'm a couple of days behind ... hmmm ... a source for my dream?).
Mercifully, I woke up before the "plot" of my dream advanced any farther. I know that I've had various versions of this dream before--being in a play I didn't know I was in; teaching a class I didn't know I had; taking a test in a class I didn't know I was taking; etc. I know that most people have various permutations of this dream, as well.
Do we know in our hearts that we're not really ready for the lives we're leading? That we're, to one extent of another, fakes? And we fear discovery?
I don't know. But I do know this: I am ferociously grateful that my dream did not continue, that I did not walk out onto that stage and start delivering lines from Hamlet or The Taming of the Shrew--or some of the sonnets I've memorized.
But now I remember that one of the biographies of Richard Burton tells us that during his great run in Hamlet on Broadway in 1964 he became bored at times and, here and there, spoke lines from other Shakespeare plays, just to see if anyone noticed. No one did. So maybe I would have carried the thing off, you know?
PS--YouTube Link to Burton delivering "To be or not to be ...."