Sep 212007

Understanding a dream is not so different from interpreting a film or piece of literature. Some even say the structure of these art forms, storytelling itself, emulates dreaming. If it is a good quality work, there are no mistakes in how, when and where things are placed. Just like a play, every dream has a question as its mission, and its scenes unfold in a dramatic arc, attempting to find a persuasive solution.

Unlike other plays you have seen, however, you have written this script, cast the characters, directed the scenes and even starred the major role. And you did it all in your sleep! Let’s take a moment to sit back in the velvet seats and peek into the beautiful framework of a dream, where every moment gives birth to the next.

Our story begins with the all-important opening scene. This is the scene that not only sets the mood for your dream, but often contains its dénouement. The end, as they say, is embedded in the beginning. Notice first what your environment is – this will show you what area of your life you are dreaming about. The players present will tell you what attitudes are influencing your mission, while the weather and time of day will tell you if your emotional climate supports your success.

Now that everyone is here, it’s time for the rising action. Though we might’ve seen a hint of the dream’s problem in the opening scenes, now the plot thickens. We see where the real conflict lies. It is the crux that frustrates you from getting where you are going and usually involves an adversary, even if that person is yourself.

But you have a plan, or at least your knee jerks, and it leads to the climax. This is the turning point in your dream. Depending on whether it is a comedy or a tragedy, it marks a change for the better or worse. It is here that you (or one of your players) will make a decision towards solving the dream problem. If you’re not sure what the climax of your dream is, look for the highest feeling charge, the thing that gets your blood bubbling and heart sprinting.

From this culmination, comes the unraveling. It is here that we see how your strategy plays out, and what effects the action you chose has on the players involved. It is what leads us to the conclusion of the dream. In the final scene, we discover if there has been a catharsis. Have the knots been untied, or is there still remaining tension, unanswered questions? If so, then it will have to be dreamed forward on another night. For now, the curtains have fallen, the house lights have come up and only the ushers are left to clear up the clutter.

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A writer, artist and tender of dreams, Toko-pa has been interviewed by CNN News & BBC Radio and her writing has appeared in publications around the world. Thanks to Skype, she works with dreamers internationally in her Private Dreamwork practice, based on Salt Spring Island in Canada. You can find Toko-pa on Facebook or sign up for her mailing list to receive news about upcoming events.

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  2 Responses to “Dreamspeak: Theatre of Dreams”

  1. Dear Toko-pa
    This post really struck a chord with me since I am now teaching, as well as making, films, and discussing narrative arc with my students all the time. Recently we screened both “Waking Life” and “Paprika”, wonderful films that deal with dreaming, albeit in very different ways, and have their own, very unique narrative arcs. I am always thrilled to get Dreamspeak both for the wisdom you bring and the connection with you and your life and work.

    Many thanks!

  2. […] read about Jungian dream interpretation on the blog The Third Eve and more about dreams as theatre here. There are even people who believe dreams are a way to predict the future. For instance, this […]

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