Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Last night I dreamt I was Hamlet. I mean, I was cast as Hamlet in a theatrical production. Which is ridiculous, of course. At my age? Lear, perhaps. Hamlet, no. But this was a dream. It was, actually, a nightmare, because I forgot my lines. It must have been a very long dream, or the dream must have covered a lot of time, weeks maybe, because I remember all of the rehearsals. Or think I do. The director is a person known to me, but I don't remember who he is.

Anyway, here we are on the night of the performance and my mind goes blank. I mean, completely. It's not just a matter of needing prompts. I can't remember a single word. Not one. For the first few scenes I muddle through by making them up. My words, not Shakespeare's. The rest of the cast seem able to muddle through with me, I don't know how. But then we're in the middle of one scene and I realize I can't get away with it any more. My own words dry up. I freeze. I fall silent, standing there for a full minute while the audience and cast seem to hold their breath. Then I step forward to the front of the stage and say, "This is hopeless. I can't remember a bloody word. Not a bloody word." And the audience grumbles a bit and slowly breaks up and disappears. I wonder if they're going to get a refund.

There's an altercation with the director and the actors backstage. I'm hugely embarrassed and repentant. It doesn't help. I have let everyone down. I wake up laughing at the absurdity of the whole thing.

Did I mention how uncomfortable I am standing up in front of an audience to speak? Oh, yes. That was just a couple of days ago. Yesterday, I spent part of the day thinking about those speaking engagements that I'm preparing for. Looking for the words...


mandt said...

Better Hamlet, than Duncan's Woods!

Anonymous said...

Are you sure it was dream?
Forgetting words and freezing up happens to me all the time. Maybe I'm always dreaming, what a nightmare.