When Christine isn’t shuffling her two children all over Brooklyn for so-called “enrichment” or pining away for a dishwasher (you should see her hands!) she tries to write. She blogs about music, motherhood and that requisite touch of madness at Quasi Agitato. She’s also mid-way through A Major Production, a cabaret-style musical about her experience of motherhood.
Have you heard of the “actor’s nightmare?” Actors have ‘em a lot. It’s opening night and as the curtain rises and the first notes of the overture ring out over the packed house, you realize you can’t remember a bloody thing about this show. Chaos ensues.
In these dreams, I can’t remember what costume I’m supposed to wear when, how long I have for my costume change (hint: it’s never long enough), what line I’m supposed to enter on, or what order the scenes go in. I spend a lot of time, half-naked, running around dimly lit backstage corridors, desperately trying to “beat the clock” but losing pitifully.
I’ve been having these nightmares for a long time. They’re stressful, but familiar. Recently, however, my subconscious threw me for a loop and introduced me to The Actor/Mom’s Nightmare.
In this dream, I’ve landed a role on Broadway and must, for the first time since becoming a mother, balance my duties onstage with my duties at home. My solution to this dilemma? I’ll bring the kids with me! They’ll hang out with my friend who’ll be working at another Broadway house (we’ll call that Theatre A) while I do my show** at Theatre B, just down the street. Then, when my show comes down, I’ll collect my kids and we’ll all return to Brooklyn together, one big, happy, show business family.
Only it turns out to be not-so-simple.
I think it’ll be easiest for you to join me in my nocturnal escapades if I present them to you in screenplay format.
Scene I: INTERIOR NYC SUBWAY CAR – My children and I have nabbed the highly coveted window seat. Through said window we see the sun setting behind the Statue of Liberty.
SON: Mom, where are we going?
ME: Because I have to go to work.
SON: You got a job?
ME: Yes! I did! Isn’t that wonderful?
SON: I guess. It’s just…it’s kind of late for a school night.
Scene 2: The kids and I elbow our way out of the subway and onto the packed sidewalks of Times Square.
CUT TO: me checking my watch and launching into panic mode. Unfortunately nothing I say or do can make my kids move any faster.
Scene 3: The kids and I finally arrive at theatre A!
CUT TO: me, undeterred, deciding to leave the kids with my friend anyway and continue on to theatre B as planned. The show must go on!
But, that’s funny. Where is theatre B?
Scene 4: In a flash of brilliance, I decide to ask the throngs of tourists clogging 42nd street where my place of employment is located.
Scene 5: At last, I throw the theatre doors open and race through the lobby only to discover that the show HAS gone on. Without me.
CUT TO: me watching the show. Why not? It’s been a while and the kids are taken care of!
CUT TO: me realizing I have no memory of this show so it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t go on.
Scene 6: BACKSTAGE – I attempt to bribe the dance captain into doing some private rehearsals with me so I can keep my job.
DANCE CAPTAIN: You’re kidding, right? Ten dollars?!?
DANCE CAPTAIN: It’s my only day off!
Scene 7: I collect my exhausted kids from theatre A and drag them back toward the Q train.
Apparently, Dream-Me has never heard of a taxi.
Or a babysitter.
As is often the case, this dream is connected to my reality.
When I started a family, I side-stepped into working with a Brooklyn-based theatre company so I could be both a performer and primary caregiver to my babies.
Now that my son (almost 10) and daughter (4) are both in school full time, it seems like they need me less. But how much less? Enough for me to try to get back out there? Could I leave town? Go on tour? How is this supposed to work? When, in an eight-show-a-week schedule, would I ever see my husband? I’m also older than the last time I did this. Could I hack it? Should I try, instead, to re-invent myself? Would that be easier or harder?
What interests and inspires me about Dream-Me is that she’s moved past this point. The one I’ve been stuck at for a while. She’s already landed the job. And it’s the dream job at that!
She isn’t perfect. She’s frazzled. Her plan is poorly thought-through. But she’s going for it. She hasn’t let herself get bogged down by the logistics. She remains resourceful and persistent and continues to move forward.
I kind of want to be her when I grow wake up.
** “My show” in this dream is a hybrid version of Mary Poppins and Cabaret. Someone please write this show IRL. Please. It’s a guaranteed hit and I’m perfect for the lead.