A theatre-friend laughingly told me she had had a strange dream about me the other night. She and her tween son were cheering me from the crowd while I marched in a parade wearing red, low-slung heels—and not much else, apparently. She said I had on red bikini bottoms under an open kimono, and before you think I have switched my genre to erotica, this is when I fell in her dream. While hoisting high the American flag, I tripped rather severely and a few in the audience came to my rescue, but then my friend stepped forward and took me to her elderly mother’s house to clean up my cuts.
The dream horrified me on many levels: I would NEVER walk around like that (in public), and the imagery represents a kind of foolish haughtiness brought low(er); a humiliating lesson learned with a very large, watching public which, oddly, reminded me of the community punishments the Pilgrims used to curtail bad behavior. As in, That’ll fix her little red wagon.
And, while that was my first impression—and is still a possibility in a long line of what makes us dream the things we dream—the dream’s inspiration was probably my actual fall during curtain call in a production of Guys and Dolls that all three of us were in, and I had even had a bit with her son: I played General Cartwright, the Director of the Missions, and a streetwalker, so the cast had lovingly dubbed me, General Hooker, schizoid hybrid roles I loved playing simultaneously. The set consisted of a hastily built but towering second level with narrow stairs. One of our closing nights, I had run up them for the final curtain—as blocked—and had tripped, bruising and cutting open my shin.
As you absorb those details, I am moving on to the dream I had last night. –But, before I relay those events, let me say that I already know I had it because anxiety dreams always start before major changes or big events in my life, and it is August: I go back to school soon.
In my dream, I had stumbled kind of unknowingly and half-heartedly into an audition. It was a gymnasium-type space and there were a great many unsmiling faces in the stands, watching me, judging me from their safe perches. But, since I was there, I had decided to do my best to survive the cold writing samples that they handed me, and I especially nailed a monologue written for a young (and I imagined, a blonde) girl: when I think of the word, foreign--when it means the opposite of my own aesthetic or appeal--I picture a blonde-haired, blue-eyed twelve-year-old girl. Then suddenly, it’s the night of the performance, only I haven’t moved, studied my lines, or even changed clothes.
The room is buzzing with people, an audience whose noise is bursting off of the ceiling in the arena’s acoustics, and I am suddenly terrified, in a Where am I? and What am I doing here? kind of way. Sitting on the floor next to where I numbly stand is a perkily confident twelve-year-old blonde—with a paper copy she is studying. It looks like a monologue. “What are you rehearsing?” I asked.
“The monologue for the young girl. It’s the best piece in the show.”
I didn’t want to tell her that I had read for that—and risk the ridicule; besides, I had not heard or received any roles to memorize. As far as I knew, the show had yet to be cast. Still, here we were and the lights were going down, as was the crowd’s hush.
“And, now, performing (whatever the prime monologue was entitled), is Ms. Rita Anderson,” a faceless voice boomed over the PA.
“NO!” the prepared brat yelled. “That was my piece. I was born to play that.”
And, although my feet moved me into the center of the floor, my head was empty. I took the hand held mike and blinked vacantly. Oh, my God. You can do this. No, I can’t. Yes, you can. Steal her paper with the words on it, my conscience argued with itself, directing me. (And, Lord knows. Someone needed to, because it sure wasn’t the director who had patched together this so-called performance.) Regardless of whose fault it was, right now, I looked like the buffoon and I had to do something so I scrambled over to the girl and scooped up her paper.
I held the mike dramatically to my mouth—I had to do something to regain the audience’s attention—and began to speak, and then I looked down. The page I was holding—one I was so certain would save the day—was now blank. There wasn’t one word written upon it.