Thursday, 1 August 2013

Helen Keller—the Avant-Garde Experience

This post is based on a dream I had earlier in the week. I am not responsible for what sort of weird stuff spews from my head whilst I am asleep.

I received a phone call from a producer in London who was putting together a Fringe show (think off Broadway) that was to be staged in a warehouse. It was a show about Helen Keller and he had heard about my star turn in the play The Miracle Worker when I was a senior in high school and they really wanted me to reprise my role as Helen.
Note: because this was dream it didn’t seem weird at all that some English bloke would have seen me in a play in Louisiana in 1987. Just go with it.

So I took the train to London and met with the director and it was clear he had seen me in the  play and I recall feeling really elated that he wanted me in his new production. He assured me if it was well received we might transfer to the West End. I asked for a script but he put me off saying, “What do you need a script for? Helen doesn’t have any lines?”
This should have been my first clue that all was not well.

I was taking a tour of the warehouse when I met some fellow actors. This was the conversation that ensued:
Her: Hi, I’m Jenna. Are you in the play? Who are you playing?

Me: I’m playing Helen Keller. Who are you playing?

Her: I’m playing Mina Harker.

Me: What??????

Her: You know in the scene where Helen meets Dracula.

Me: What the hell kind of production is this?

This should have been my second clue that all was not as it seemed.
I ran into one of the set building guys who proudly showed me what he was building. It was a bathroom. This was the conversation:

Him: it’s for the bathroom scene—you know—the one where Helen takes a dump on stage.

Me: What????

Him: Look, it’s going to be fully plumbed so you can actually flush. That’s because the sound guy is blind and he won’t be able to see you pretending to flush so he won’t know when to do the sound cue.

Me: What????

Just then the director came along and said:
Him: I thought if you took a laxative about an hour before the show you could do an actual poo on stage and we could have microphone hooked up to the toilet to catch the sounds.

Me: What???????

Right about now Spiderman interrupted my story and said:

Spiderman: So this is a “let’s rearrange the furniture so Helen can’t find her way around the room” sort of show?

Me: Yes! That’s exactly it.

The other thing that seemed a bit hinky was the fact that there was no proper rehearsal schedule. We had to share the warehouse with a folk dancing class and a troop of Boy Scouts and so you never knew when rehearsal was. You just waited for a phone call that told you to come right now and you went.

Despite the fact that the show sounded too weird for words, in the dream I was excited by the prospect of doing it. Spiderman and I went out to a restaurant to celebrate my success. When we got home there were lots of angry messages on our ansaphone from the director saying I missed an important rehearsal and I needed to meet with him first thing in the morning.

The next morning I was waiting outside the director’s office (which was the broom cupboard) when I spotted Winona Ryder leafing through a magazine.

Me: Oh my stars you’re Winona Ryder!

Her: Yeah, so?

Me: What are you doing here?

Her: I’ve been asked to play Helen Keller in this play.

Me: What????

 And so it was. I had been replaced by Winona Ryder in the Helen Keller Avant-Garde Experience.

Then I woke up.

I can tell where lots of this came from—weird ideas lurking in my subconscious that meet up with other weird ideas and get it on and make dreams like this one. We’ve been watching episodes of South Park and I know my favourite one is coming up-- where they do Helen Keller the Musical directed by and starring the guy from Les Miserable as Helen who sings her inner monologue in his Jean Valjean voice. Spiderman and I also were recently looking at the graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen where really old Allan Quatermain has sex with younger Mina Harker who always wears that scarf to hide the profusion of bite marks on her neck. I suppose Winona Ryder appeared there because she played Mina Harker in that film version of Dracula.

All I can say is:



  1. I like the part where you tie it all in at the last minute because you have actually been watching some weird stuff lately. . . . . . .

    As your Mum, I am quite glad you didn't embarrass your family by actually taking a dump on stage!

  2. Umm, I missed this earlier. Bizarre!