Big Worries in the Wee Hours


We all know a teenager’s waking life can be stressful. But that’s apparently nothing compared with his dreams.

Meet Andy, the 15-year-old lead character in Craig Fleming’s new play, “In Your Dreamz,” being performed this weekend by South Coast Repertory’s Young Conservatory. Andy is battling a host of daytime worries: a dental appointment, a looming math test, a potential date with his dream chick. When he at last beds down for the night, his body is ready for soothing sleep. But his brain has other plans.

“Andy’s dealing with a lot of the typical teen stresses and anxieties,” explained Fleming, who wrote the 40-minute play with lots of input from the 20 teens and preteens in the cast. “The messages he gives himself in his dream life are pretty telling.”

“In Your Dreamz” is a work in progress compared with previous Young Conservatory productions, Fleming noted. He developed the script over an 11-week session with advanced students at the resident theater. Costumes and set pieces were created by the students instead of by a professional designer; however, sound designer Garth Hemphill did create original incidental music. The show’s low ticket price and short run reflect its status as a recital piece rather than a fully staged production.


But, even if “In Your Dreamz” is a little rough around the edges, young audiences will still find plenty to identify with, said Fleming, former director of the Young Conservatory program who staged last season’s “Mother Goose on Trial” and John Glore’s wonderfully inventive production of “The Stinky Cheese Man” in 1995.

“Almost everything in the show is taken from the real experiences of our cast; they’re just strung out to absurd levels,” Fleming said. “In Andy’s dreams, these commonplace situations just sort of spin out of control.”

Take that dental visit, for example.

“The dentist turns out to be a little more sinister than he expected,” Fleming explained. “Just as he’s about to leave, Andy’s stopped by a paralyzing ray and imprisoned in Dr. Olaf’s Dungeon of Discomfort. Then the karaoke zombies show up and sing him some really bad show tunes.”


Oof. Nitrous oxide, anyone?

A date with the lovely Rosemary doesn’t go much better. Not only does the poor lad have to sit through an artsy foreign film, but he also gets dragged into the on-screen action. Not cool.

But Andy’s a trouper. As a result of his nocturnal musings, he learns a valuable lesson--so too, hopes Fleming, will the audience.

“I think what we’re trying to get across is that we should listen to . . . our dreams and pay attention to the messages we give ourselves in our dream life. If we put the messages together, we’ll find there’s always an answer.

“Basically,” he added with a laugh, “we’re saying, ‘Don’t worry, be happy.’ ”



South Coast Repertory’s Young Conservatory presents “In Your Dreamz” on SCR’s Second Stage, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $4-$5. (714) 957-4033.