Occasionally I have dreams where I’m called upon to perform in a play that I’ve never read or rehearsed and for which I don’t know any of the lines. I understand that this is a fairly common dream, experienced by many people, and closely related to the classic “test you never studied for” and “on stage in your underwear” dreams. Usually these dreams are a source (or result) of deep anxiety, but last night I had the “perform a play you don’t know” dream, and the play was so dumb, and I so didn’t want to be in it, that I really didn’t care if I knew any of the lines or blocking or not. I just spent all my stage time wandering around the performing area (it wasn’t a stage really, it was like the play was being performed in a large garage or a storage unit), and doing whatever I felt like. My attitude was “Whatever, dude. This is what you get. Should have given me more prep time.” It was very liberating.
Take THAT subconscious! Take your cliché dream and cram it!
The play itself was mostly about the life of young Abraham Lincoln, though that main thread was interspersed with a few scenes of variations on classic Russian folktales. I am not hugely familiar with the events of Mr. Lincoln’s adolescence and early adulthood, but I’m fairly certain that those sections of my dream play were not particularly accurate. For example, one scene put forward that Lincoln and his two college roommates invented popcorn, and then turned a tidy profit selling it to their fellow students. The scene took place in Lincoln’s dorm room (the hum of an enthusiastic crowd audible outside), with the stoic future President standing over a potbellied cast-iron stove, tending to a small pot of oil and corn kernels, while the more animated Roommate #1 jumped around yelling “Keep it popping Abe! That corn is selling like hotcakes!” I played young Mr. Lincoln’s second roommate. I spent most of my time rolling my eyes and scoffing at how ludicrous the scene was (though now, in waking hours, it seems charming, if inaccurate), walking around the set, moving props, and deliberately getting in people’s way. There were clearly moments when my character was supposed to have a line. Roommate #1 would look at me expectantly and I’d say something like “What don’t you understand? I don’t know this play!” Clearly not the response he was looking for, Roommate #1 would do his best to recover and keep going. Lincoln just kept tending to his corn.
Lincoln, by the way, was played by Eric “Bob” Hertenstein, who starred in many of the plays I performed in throughout high school.
As for what this dream meant, that has become clear to me over the course of this morning. I think it’s a reflection of my desire to get out of the job I’m currently working. My company is essentially a house of cards in a fan factory. Sooner or later it’s going to collapse and I don’t want to be here when that happens. More immediately, the employees here are not treated very well (on a Variety of levels) and none of us are being paid nearly enough. It’s something I’ve become increasingly intolerant of. The final straw for me came earlier this week when the employees asked if we could have President’s Day off and the bosses acted as though the entire office were both insane and lazy for even suggesting it. This company gives fewer than seven days off a year, including Christmas and New Years. And I mean Christmas and New Years DAY. If you want the week in-between, that comes out of your own vacation time. That’s unheard of in this industry. You just can’t treat people like that, and expect them to work the hours people here work for half of what they could be making at any other company in town. I’ve started sending out resumes, and I already have an interview lined up for Friday. I told the people here I had a Dr.’s appointment. Shhhhhh.
Not that I particularly care if they find out. My attitude over the last week has quickly become “Whatever, dude. This is what you get. Should have given me more days off.” It’s very liberating.