Theatre of the Dream
All the world’s a stage,

and all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts, ..

‘As You Like It’ : William Shakespeare.

Like the great dramas of ancient Athens and Rome enacted in amphitheatres over days, weeks, months, years, so too is the great dream drama within and without enacted and unfolded. Like the dream on a stage, the curtains open and the characters are there, and the scenery is what is is.Β 

I like to think of this inner world of dreams as the theatre of the soul. The other night before I constructed this post, I dreamed of being with two women. One was my sister, the other I haven’t met but ‘know’ her through her blog posts. We were in a cinema passing chocolate to each other. And then we sang. (I’ve never sung in a dream before). The image of a darkened place, a projector somewhere in the background and being with two women I care deeply for, makes me know that I need to amplify it more, paying attention to the images. What am I called to see in the dark and what am I projecting onto my sister and ‘Elizabeth’. And chocolate? What is this ‘theatre’ in my dream?

Like the play on stage, the dream unfolds. We’re both participant and observer. After the opening scene there is development of the plot where the action commences followed by a culmination in which something happens. There is more but the word limit is restricting! But it would be remiss of me to leave out that the women in my dream are shadow aspects of me, since they are of of the same sex. Gold can be found in using the metaphorical torch to shine a little light onto the shadow –

Dreams invite us to get our teeth into it, to assimilate it, chewing it over and over and allowing them their slow digesting. Letting it take it’s own time, like the tides of the oceans, trusting that they will come into shore.

And again, let the images speak. It can be helpful to give the dream aΒ tentative title.

74 Comments on Theatre of the Dream

  1. I can’t help thinking of the title of Jean Raffa’s “Dream Theatres of the Soul” and then I think of how dream work with Robert Bosnak is like turning a dream in to an inner sensory theatre set with imagined, but oh so real color, sound, closeness and distance, light and shadow. When I take the time to create such an inner dreamscape, it’s always there with the dream teachings and help when I re-imagine it. Thank you for emphasizing the value of dreams.
    I always feel a sense of the Higher Self guiding me when I dream.

    • I’m so looking forward to ordering Jean’s book on Dream Theatres of the Soul … (when the rand – South African currency – to the dollar strengthens a bit – awfully weak at the moment). Did you ever come across Patricia Bowery in connection with Robert Bosnak – she lived in SA for a long long while but has been in N Carolina for a long while and I think did some dream work with Bosnak?

      Thanks so much Elaine, and beautifully articulated about the dream as Higher Self Guide.

  2. Of course, I love the idea of dream theatre. In fact, the other night I was dreaming that I was having trouble staging the latest play that I wrote. Finally, I said, “We’ll just have to do it in my house.” Then, it all worked perfectly!

    • Sorry to come by so late in the day Mary – am behind in many respects! Thank you for your comment, glad it all worked out!

  3. Comment Strangely enough it seems like thought transmission as my entire dilemma is whether I am going to make the film or not. And then there is your son in films, such a talented young man, and so much to offer his generation in new ideas and entertainment. So Susan, your unconscious floating freedom is invaded with films and film projectors. Enjoy the chocolates!

    Best Wishes


  4. Hi Susan – Theatre of the Dream – fascinating post and then to tie in your sister and a blogging friend and chocolate … it’s taking time to dwell on dreams and that theatre … really interesting post – cheers HIlary

  5. I was actually wondering the same thing as Kern above–about men in women’s dreams. I’ve had dreams where I was a man… I wonder what that’s saying? (Those are pretty rare, though.) All very interesting, though. Dreams certainly do seem like something is being acted out.

    • Thanks for commenting Sara – please see my response to Kern above. Men and women contain both masculine and feminine energies ..

  6. Carrying on with the Shakespeare thread that’s looping through the comments, we could say that all our dream world is a stage, but nothing “mere” about the players. I’m curious about something, Susan. You say that your sister and “Elizabeth” are shadow aspects of you because they’re both women–does this mean that male figures in a woman’s dreams wouldn’t also be shadow aspects of her? This is so interesting!

    Also, what a wonderful image you chose to accompany this post. My feet are just itching to climb those stairs and carry me to that door. Maybe in my dreams tonight…

    • There’s nothing ‘mere’ about the players Kern I agree! Thank you for commenting.

      The shadow is a term referring to aspects of the Self (introduced by C.G. Jung) which remain unconscious. Yet personifications of the unconscious appear in dreams. Those unknown aspects of yourself are partly personal partly collective (group aspect) – and it’s not always easy to determine which is which.

      As I’m writing this I realise it is a task too big to condense in my response to you. Getting in touch with one’s (unlived) shadow is a big first step. My dreaming of those two women and the stage in which it was set will take me a while and I will wait for further dreams to see better.

      Male figures in a dream may represent the woman’s animus, that which animates, or strengthens ..

      If a woman dreams of women they may represent our ‘best enemy’ so to speak, BUT also simply, just our other side.

      Sorry if this is too brief –

          • I knew I’d asked this question, but I couldn’t remember which post had prompted it! This is a good thing–it gave me a chance to revisit some of your other posts. A dream review, so to speak.

            This was very helpful, Susan, and I really appreciate you taking the time to give such a thoughtful response. You really are amazing, dear Susan, and so generous to all throughout this challenge.

  7. A title to a dream–that’s clever. I like your dream. I wonder if I can will myself to dream that for myself, see who’s there and what the movie will be.

    • Thanks Jacqui … just ask your unconscious for a dream, with intent, before turning in for the night. Dreams are spontaneous… see link above if you wish to pursue this further ..

  8. I love, love LOVE the Carl Jung image at the top. I go right in. OK, the chocolate, too. The women being shadow aspects of oneself — I have found that among the Roos, and again with ones I met through taking up this A-Z challenge. Thank you for gently prodding me into doing so, Susan.

    But, that image — wow does that fire up my imagination — many intriguing stories to tell — a dream to explore in itself.

  9. How fun to find your Shakespeare quote on his purported birthday, and what a delightful post. Your title had me thinking of a charming little book published in 1978 called The Dream Theater by Faye Hammel and Daniel Marshall.

  10. While pondering about Jean Raffa’s book about empowering the feminine through Jungian dreams, I thought I would like to read her book and learn generally and more about how to do this.

    I have been married to Anita since June 1951. I have tried to do the best I coul over the years. One can always do a tiny bit better. The problem with her dreams is that she only dreams about her work activities, or she does not tell me all.

    • Thank you Joseph and Mazeltov for 64 years! You are both so blessed. And for doing your best Joseph – doing one’s best always leads to wanting to do just a tiny bit better. There is no problem with her dreams though. Maybe look at that in a different way ..?

  11. Love the picture,love the Shakespeare quote, love the theatre image, and the image of finding the unique key that opens the door. I find my dreams are often hard work, but provide such amazing insights that they are worth the effort. This week, while in holiday, I have been pondering over two dreams which I’ve had recently which were quite similar to each other. Must be significant.

    • Thanks Kathryn for commenting. Also for saying that they’re hard work yet worth the effort – I’ve been stressing this all along and it’s good to hear another express it. Being on holiday often yields dreams for me too ..

  12. It’s interesting that you dreamed of someone you didn’t know in person but know virtually. I guess it’s really not different from having a celebrity in your dream. We live in a time where it’s so easy to get a window into other people’s lives through blogs.

    • Yes, it is interesting Courtney. I have a small group who are true friends who I have got to know over the years in this virtual world. Blogging does allow for revealing I guess…thank you for coming by, I really appreciate this. Are you seeing the finish line in sight?

  13. Hi,
    I love that you three sang. That is wonderful. A song in your dream that paints the colours of your friendship between these two women.
    Another excellent post.
    Thank you.

  14. Lovely post. You nailed it. The theater is a perfect descriptor for my experiences on that side of waking. What a sweet, beautiful dream you had, Susan. It really is fascinating, all those layers of thought that surface in Dreamland.


  15. You have a delightful way of describing your dreams. It is interesting as a dream is like going to the theatre… watching the interactions and learning about the underlying meaning. It is interesting that you dream as much as you do… or are more aware of your dreams. Very interesting post. Thank you my dear! πŸ˜‰

    • Thank you dear Gwynn, they were only a few snapshots of a longer dream. I have not come to an understanding yet. They’re steaming and cooking! I’m dreaming a fair bit more now that I’m doing this A-Z series. I’m sure they’ll continue afterwards though historically, I do have long stretches when a dream does not appear.

    • Thanks J.H. Do check out the link below if you care to follow or track your dreams. It’s more or less an approach I’ve followed for years and years but when I found it in Jan this year, I was so pleased and it’s helped me significantly.

      On the rhs you will see her post in Jan 2015 headed :The Six-Step Method for Working with Dreams’.

    • Joseph, yes you will – every dream has layers, it’s like peeling an onion, or chipping away at a very hard nut, or being like the archeologists of old or like a Hercule Poirot … on the scent ..Always keep the image in mind.

  16. Okay, I have to comment. This is a huge synchronicity for me: We read “As You Like It” and had to memorize that quote in 9th grade, today is my birthday, today is Shakespeare’s birthday, and the title of my second book is Dream Theatres of the Soul: Empowering the Feminine Through Jungian Dreamwork! I’m wondering how much Shakespeare influenced my title? (And the British spelling of Theatres?) It’s all connected and interwoven, just as we are, Susan, as well as all of our readers. Blessings and thank you for these beautiful and fascinating posts.

    • Well, Jeanie, I’m blown away! Yes you absolutely had to comment! Is it yours and Shakespeare’s TODAY??? Firstly, a very happy birthday to you! I had no idea! Illustrious company with The Bard! An influence from way back then in 9th grade! No doubt an influence in a subtle but real way. I truly did not know that his is today .. let alone yours… And the synchronicity of the title of your book … I can’t wait to order it!

      I live in South Africa .. we spell along British lines.

      Yes, we are all connected Jeanie, it is such a blessing. I love receiving comments and responding back and it is so hopeful to me in a way that the value of the dream is being acknowledged for the treasure that it is or, at least, there is some curiosity about them πŸ™‚

      • Yup! I was born on April 23. It was Good Friday that year!!! You think that means anything? πŸ˜‰ (Just kidding. I was very proud of that detail as a child!!! That, and the fact that I shared a birthday with Shakespeare made me feel very special at a time when little else did.) Yes, of course you would use British spelling. I wonder why I used it for that book….. Another delicious mystery in a universe full of them.

        • I do remember Jeanie … I read this in one of your recent posts and the celebration with friends and the wondrousness of that – and how special to be born on Easter Friday! And sharing the Bard’s birthday! I would still be cock-a- hoop about that!! (cock-a-hoop means very happy I think!)

  17. What a clever tribute on Shakespeare’s birthday. This sentence really resonates with me: Like the great dramas of ancient Athens and Rome enacted in amphitheatres over days, weeks, months, years, so too is the great dream drama within and without enacted and unfolded, as well as the one which follows.

    Once again, you’ve pulled back the curtains on a secret inner-world and provided us with a road map for maneuvering within it. Thanks to you I have been paying greater attention to my dreams and even had a prophetic dream the other day, which I paid attention to and retained.

    Dreams are not easy. They can leave you upset or not well rested. I had come to agree with African American traditional thinking regarding dreams that pretty much all that is foretold in the dream you can expect the opposite so I wasn’t happy about my dream. Thankfully that dream’s prophecy was straight forward and I now have something to celebrate.

    • Thank you Stephanie! I was vaguely aware of Shakespeare’s birthday but didn’t really know this. So I am EXTRA pleased – thank you for saying so.

      That’s wonderful about your dream! It is such a gift to receive. One knows when a dream is extra-special. Keep that symbol doing it’s ongoing shape-shifting Stephanie, and paint it?

      The African American tradition of dreams that you write of: there is some truth in the way they view them.

  18. Anything with chocolate would catch my attention! Yes, the dreams, our life, are a stage, a story, a plot and we can impact the ending. Have you ever stopped a dream midstream and decided to end it differently? I do that, when it’s feeling negative. It’s powerful. Or am I messing with the muses?!

    • Thanks Beth – maybe it was the chocolate for me too! I’ve never stopped a dream as such, it’s woken me up! I’ve cried out occasionally which has woken not only me but my husband too. I’ve had some disturbing dreams – and those need pondering. Not such a short answer to your question .. I’m not sure that I would attempt to alter wherever the dream is going .. it must take me where it’s going … like a story performed in amphitheatres of old .. it can take it’s time ..

  19. A very apt quote by Carl Jung and dreams perfectly described as a theatre. What lies beyond that door. Sometimes it’s scary to open and walk through.

    • Thank you Suzy. – to enter in is an act of courage – to have gone through the steps of finding the right key that is unique, inserting and turning the key, opening the door, stepping over .. all that which goes before..

  20. Oh boy! That door is so thrilling to me. I like your dream and as an old theatre person (writer, actor and director) I have many dreams set on the stage. Mine are usually ones of not being prepared. I like that you found your voice in this dream – you say you’ve never dreamed of singing before. What is it you are singing? And isn’t chocolate a mystery both in your dream and in life – dark, sweet and bitter, complex – mysterious! Thank you for sharing your dream – it is a beaut!

    • That’s so amazing Jan about your dreams set on stage …! re your question of what we were singing .. I’m thinking about it only now (tho I’ve re-read the dream a few times) .. I think it was like a lullaby, just gentle swaying music. The third person in the dream is actually a gospel musician if that’s the right term and she’s a very special person. She’s an Afro-American living in Germany …

      Re the chocolate – thank you for articulating that so beautifully!

      Do you ever sing in your dreams?

      Thank you so much for coming by!

  21. awesome Susan.. I loved the picture, so attractive that I can see it even if I am not looking a your blog, and the quote from Shakespeare is one of my favourite one, once again a brilliant post susan and truly I am loving it !!!

  22. Lovely, Susan. I wonder whether the unknown “Elizabeth” is your shadow self? Nice analogy – and so we all play our parts.

  23. Today, on 21st day of A to Z Blog, it feels like we will continue to listen to The Thousand Susan’s Nights. A production that demanded much dedication to bring to the public.

    With admission tickets in hand, we enter your theatre by a Small Hidden door and we eagerly await for the curtains to rise.

  24. Theatre of the soul is a wonderful analogy! I love the Shakespeare quote, and image too. You have such interesting dreams, Susan. Thank you for sharing them, and this lovely post! πŸ™‚

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