The Dream Cage

A play for professional and amateur actors, late teens to early twenties

Subtitled 'A Comic Drama in Nine Dreams', the play concerns a young man who is kept in a cage-like travelling showman's booth attended by two figures: a pantomime dame and a Principal Boy. They turn up in a nondescript place looked after by a Caretaker who seems to be only just in control of his responsibilities - he can't get command of things, he says, because the words are never right. A bizarre gang of physically athletic beings hunt for the Boy and, when they find him, force him to enact his own dream in a folk-play-within-the-play. After which, in a cod-pastoral picnic scene the Girl and the gang and the Boy enact and re-enact their meeting and 'marriage'.

Dream story logic is not the same as waking logic. It works by association of images, each image bearing its own individual meaning, and the patterns of images, taken together, making further meanings still. Such narratives are three-dimensional networks rather than linear, cause-and-effect events. Nor are they interested in exploring character in the way that, say, Ibsen does. Because of this a dream play presents actors with different challenges from the ones they are used to. And this one is deliberately written to allow everyone involved as much opportunity as possible to bring to the production their own interpretation and ideas, from director, set, lighting and costume designers, to the actors themselves.

The published version includes the author's Introduction and Notes.

Commissioned by Stroud Festival

First performed by Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, 1981

First published by Heinemann, 1982

Now out of print. But I have a few copies left.

If you're interested in reading or performing the play, contact me here.

All contents are ©Aidan Chambers unless otherwise stated.




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