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The Dark Side of Your Pillow - Baz Science Lesson No.3

We just can’t stop with all the head shrinking here at Baz HQ – but then again we’ve come to the subject we have been most fascinated by – sleep disorders. So listen up sleepwalkers, dream fighters, nocturnal twitchers and midnight conversationalists, we might, in our roundabout, theatre way, be about to cure you of your ills. Er, terms and conditions apply. Both of those being it based on this totally not working. Or will it? Are you dreaming right now?! Read on to find out! And again we'll be enlisting the help of our resident brainbox PJ who we are indebted to and who allows us to make silly jokes just a bit more knowledgeable.

No, you’re not dreaming right now, but to discuss properly what’s going on with your flailing limbs we gotta figure out what’s going on in your noggin. The more Baz learns about sleep the more the idea of it and ‘rest’ seem laughable. Your brain is so cogniscient, so on it in ways it’s not when you are awake it might be more specific to call is a ‘refresh’ like when you refresh a webpage – all the info returns, the headlines, links, text, pictures – but it also comes with updates and new information and not always of the happiest sort: moments from your childhood, a scary scenario that never happened but could have: poor souls with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, and even Narcolepsy can have far reaching effects that all stem from sleep where the saloon of traumatic memories and icky stuff isn’t constrained by waking hours.

So when someone is standing beside the bed, punching at the air, it’s fairly certain they are suffering the adverse affects of PTSD: a mental disorder that occurs after a traumatic event, usually after an attack of some kind. Sufferers can feel constantly on edge in waking hours, but it can profoundly affect sleep, causing insomnia in many cases, but also REM sleep behaviour disorder wherein the nightmares, often linked to the original incident, are acted out. Delayed Sleep Phase disorder and sleep apnea are often common, too. Borderline Personality Disorder, too has roots in sleep, with adults that display symptoms of Fantasy Proneness, spending daytime hours fantasising and daydreaming or playing games excessively, for example, make you especially prone to periods of ‘Derealisation’ – a feeling of detachment from the real world, people and objects too, occasionally suffering from amnesia. These also manifest as sleep disorders where games, fantasies and imagined situations are too, often acted out.


Banquo at the Banquet (good name for a band by Theodore Chasseriau, captures the moment Macbeth has his funny turn.

Banquo at the Banquet (good name for a band by Theodore Chasseriau, captures the moment Macbeth has his funny turn.

These examples are extreme and reliant on suffering trauma or excessive, harmful exposure to un-natural concepts and light, but the thought of sleep being so prevalent in some major mental health disorders is disquieting. The comforter and the eye mask aren’t looking so uncool now, huh? Anyway, all this research got us thinking about these disorders in literature, and more importantly, in theatre: pretty evident Macbeth is suffering from a bit of PTSD when he is visited by Banquo in the great feast, and his Lady Macbeth from extreme Dissociation, after trauma and fantasy, and let’s face it, sleep wasn’t exactly restful for poor King Duncan. Oh yeah and Hamlet and his Dad at the battlements. Typical transference in a dream state pertaining to parental issues possibly due to a absent father and a lack of patriarchal order. (I thank you: we're getting pretty good at this now.) People are always having prophecies and dreams in the Ancient Greek times aren’t they? But maybe that had something to do with all the wine and the heat. We don’t know. We are not academics, as we are at pains to point out. We do highly doubt though that A Midsummer Night’s Dream would have been as fun without that pesky Dream Juice.

So to conclude, what have we learned? I mean, really tell us, because there will be a test on it later (joking, of course, but we do hope we planted the seed for a few anxiety dreams in some heads out there) No really: we have learned that there is a definite link between mental illness and disorders that stem from sleep – it really is more vital to our health than we realise. All the more reason to curl up in bed with a book an hour before you usually do, that’s what Baz is gonna do. Rock n Roll. We fancy a bit of Strindberg….a quick dip into Dream Play, perhaps? Conditioning? Us? How dare you. (It is a good read though. With a dram of whiskey. But who’s counting? Well, maybe sheep. Good luck with that)

Thought we'd leave you with something of a palette cleanser after this one, so here is everyone's favourite sit-rom-com The Vicar of Dibley, with Geraldine working through her pre-wedding anxiety with a touch of fantasy proneness and transference. And Sean Bean, which we feel is a must working through all issues. All of them. 

Love and sweet dreams. Hopefully.

Baz x



Shrinking, Slips, Strindberg - Baz goes Clever

We'd like to take a minute to see if you can make up a short story using just those three words - it may reveal something latent...

Ever had a dream you’ve never understood? So have we. But never fear:  Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung are here to make us feel really weird about it! Okay, that might be a bit obtuse, but these two men, just stepping clear of the 1800s , commendably took us two steps forward in understanding psychology, consciousness and self– and unsurprisingly a few steps back with attitudes to women - shakes fist – but, though a no-good pair of scamps, they did a lot in their collective fields to change attitudes to psychology. As we prepare the next outing of our half folk-story half-nightmare take on Strindberg’s Dream Play, we thought we’d indulge in a little light head-shrinking. Oh yes, hold on: This is a Baz-is-going-clever-Blog, with the amazing, super-smart help and brain of Bazzer, our very own PJ! Oh yes, we are taking this seriously. Strap in.

Sit yourself down, can you elaborate on why you think your mother is a hamster? / Freud's        real couch in Vienna at the Freud museum.   

Sit yourself down, can you elaborate on why you think your mother is a hamster? / Freud's        real couch in Vienna at the Freud museum.


One thing the Jung and Freud camps seem to agree on (those yearly get-togethers must be really really fun) is the idea that dreams mean stuff. (Bear with us, we’re easing into this ‘clever’ stuff) more specifically (told you) wish fulfilment – this sounds like Aladdin etc, but basically its your subconscious calling out your repression, your hidden desire to resolve something or a latent desire to act on a wish that we usually have a better handle on in the sunlight. Jung raised Freud one further though and introduced the idea of Archetypes into the game: for example the mother-son archetype, the husband-wife – all wrapped up in a nice package of the Collective Unconscious – or, Social Expectations. Baz, as a rule doesn’t have much time for these Expectations and likes to subvert them when we can – experimental theatre and all that, but the fact that Jung wants you to experience your displeasure, confront your desire, your want or resentment – now you’re talking our language.

Freud’s language and imagery for interpreting dreams goes hand in hand with practicing theatre – the idea that the dream is a wish fulfilment or rehearsal for the real thing – it’s nearly too neat: Freud’s theories of signifiers for example, an image or symbol that pops up in your dreams with multiple possible rationalisations, in disguise, if you will and requires a closer look to be interpreted. In a dream state you’re clearly watching the action, taking in a scene and participating – and is there nothing closer to the act of being an audience member and interpreting the action onstage? He may have been onto something, this Freud bloke.

But then Jung had to throw his spanner in the works (if you read into that, shame on you) and asserted that his Archetypes relay much of the information of repressed thoughts, desires or wants through a set of what he called dream ‘symbols’ or ‘figures’. An innocuous object like a cane or snake could be…interpreted as, er, something else. (you see where we are going with this, move on) much as an old woman, or a shadow have a specific attributed meaning, in the theatre world this puts Baz in mind of Brecht’s Stock Characters he used in his writing – and our assertion that an audience must first understand what we are subverting before we subvert it.

Phew. Make sense? No, to us either. But it is just fascinating to learn about and adapt to our theatrical processes. Our take on Dream Play relies on that universal experience of dreaming, being outside yourself looking in, that intense, often frightening, often joyful experience of feeling so purely. We’ve all experienced it:  it crosses,cultural, linguistic and generational divides. And it can be pretty freaky to be trapped in a game of Super Mario I think we all can agree.

Oh man, after all that knowledge let us destress with a bit of psyche-comedy: Mr Stephen Fry’s joke-non-joke on QI: (p.s slightly NSFW)

Keep on dreamin'

Baz xx

Really, really thanks to PJ for all her hard work and knowledge- the kind of clever where you're not intimidated but want to start reading all books immediately x