Improv Stress Dream

I always had vivid, ‘stress dreams’ around exams. After college, I worked with university students and continued to have ‘exam stress dreams’ as finals week approached, even though I was no longer taking exams.

man in dark suit banging head against wall

Some Background

Last night I had my first ‘improv stress dream’. The dream, while stressful, was kind of funny.

The improv was not.

We have almost wrapped up an improv class, and the final component is a performance in front of an audience Monday night.

Going into the show, we have worked on a specific model, La Ronde. In La Ronde, two performers begin a scene on stage, and after a few minutes, a third performer tags one of the original two off. Those two do a scene, and that pattern continues until everyone has performed two scenes. Finally, the first person tagged off returns and closes the circle.

Each La Ronde will have a specific environment (cruise ship/resort/whatever). For our exhibition, we are performing three La Rondes.

The Dream

The performance began with our whole class lined up on stage. Ashley, our instructor, introduces us, and we all start yelling out stuff about the Southern United States. My first contribution was “Texas!” as I raise my fist in the air. My second was about Jimmy Carter being a peanut farmer, a president and a nuclear scientist. Then we stood there for a very long time, saying nothing.

Ashley and her boss Kathleen, glance back and forth at each other and us. Ashley eventually comes up to end our misery and instructs us about closing scenes.

She then introduces our second performance, which she called “Toot”.

I had no idea what that meant. The rest of the class begins to look for something, and we are all being emotionally expressive. Eventually, we all run off stage to various rooms behind the audience, looking for whatever.

When I returned to the theatre, nearly the entire audience had left. Some kid is lying on the stage in a blue robe. I begin rolling him off while singing Row Row Your Boat.

When we are all back, Ashley begins telling us how badly we are messing up.

I responded that this was not what we had prepared for. We were supposed to do “La Rondes” and not all be on stage together.

“And you were supposed to give us environments.”

She said, “I did.”

“Toot? What is that?”

“And you had us practice tagging over and over, and we aren’t using it. Tagging, Tagging, Tagging.”

Character Change

At this point, our instructor is an older man. He gets angry that I am talking back and leaves the theatre.

By this point, the audience has returned, so I ‘ make a choice’ the show must go on!

I lean over to the closest classmate and say, “Let’s do our final La Ronde”.

“ No, I have to get up early for work tomorrow.”

Others respond the same or suggest we go out for drinks instead.

Eventually, I tell one classmate that the audience was expecting three acts. He says, “No they aren’t. Why would they expect that?”

I think, but don’t admit, “That’s what I told everyone I invited.”

And that is how the dream ends.

Whatever happens on Monday night, I am reasonably confident it won’t go that badly.



Photo by Daniel Mingook Kim on Unsplash