Anxiety Dreams . . .
We all get these of course. Our subconscious simply tailors them to our particular requirements. I find them occasionally useful yet often - as at present - baroquely absurd. I have been having ridiculously vivid dreams for the past few weeks - possibly something to do with the weather, as spring has definitively not yet sprung here on the banks of the Rhine - grey, louring clouds have been an enduring feature, along with rain and unseasonal chilliness (I had to turn the heating on this morning. It's nearly June, for goodness' sake!). The sun has been notable by its absence. And such weather gives me headaches, which make me ratty and irritable, and the constant feeling that my brain is being squished from above, forcing my eyeballs to bug out in a cartoonish fashion from the pressure.
The simple ones, shared by most if not all performers, are those where you step out on to stage, only to discover they changed the opera/play/symphony without telling you; you often have to improvise madly despite desperately insisting you weren't told and have never sung/acted/played this piece). That's enough to make you wake up sweating. And a nice - if pretty unsubtle - reminder from the brain to put in more practice, make sure the piece you're working on is learned as thoroughly as humanly possible, and then a bit more for the road. Fair enough. I've learned to either take note and step up my game, or ignore with dignity, as required.
Slightly more rococo variations are endless - different settings, clothing, audience etc etc. This morning's was one of those. I'd (in real life) been to a "Fiesta" I'd helped to organise; with a Spanish theme, we were trying to welcome in the summer. Given the weather, however, we'd been forced to set up a couple of fires (it was a garden party), and despite my best attempts, the firewood was not bone-dry (ha ha, given the recent rain and humidity) and there was a thick pall of smoke and ashes adding "atmosphere"... However much one tried to circle round to avoid this, the changing wind directions made it impossible, and even though I tried to compensate by drinking as much (non-alcoholic) liquid as possible, it was perfectly rational of my brain to worry about the condition of my voice before the performance tonight. Fine. Thanks, brain. But did you have to translate that into my voice becoming a froglike croak that embarrassed me so much I failed to sing any of my lines, and instead cawed along ruining everyone else's lines? And somehow I'd forgotten about getting dressed, and upon discovering this before my first entrance, decided that I'd go on naked, as this would distract from my lack of voice. That apparently not being enough, my brain decided that I would now sing my role hanging awkwardly from a splintery wooden frame, which I proceeded to do whilst anxiously squashing down bits which might suggest I was not the old woman I was meant to be portraying...
The worst however appeared out of nowhere a couple of days ago. I smashed into that particular dream having just murdered one of my best friends (she has in real life escaped back to Canada, and I can report very thankfully that she is still alive and kicking). I have no idea *why* I'd killed her - even my feverish brain apparently couldn't think up an adequate reason for that - but I now had to somehow wrap her up and hide the body, and was consumed in the hunt for proper wrapping materials and tape, and proceeded in jerky, interrupted scenes, to dispose of her, with many scenes reminiscent of something out of Laurel and Hardy (feet falling out of a cupboard, tape unwinding, the body slipping inexorably down a chute into view) but desperately unfunny and heart-stopping at the time. As light relief, these gruesome scenes were spliced with some sort of concert in a HUGE arena, where I variously heard the introductory chords to my aria but couldn't find the stage, started to sing but provoked a mass exodus from the crowd, and came on to find a tenor singing my aria instead, because I had been late arriving - at which point my dream self, enraged, stood behind the poor man and simply roared louder than him. Oh dear!!
Really, dear subonscious, I don't need this. My current roles are well learned, and the one I have coming up is (a) small and technically uncomplicated and (b) not yet required to be off copy. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for caring enough to warn me, and to provide embellishments which evidently amuse your creative impulses, but... enough, please!