Dreams: Actors Preparing for Roles

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Dreams: A New Approach for Actors Preparing for Roles

  1. Dreams: A New Approach…
  2. Benefits of Dream Work for Actors
  3. Workshops in Berlin
  4. Articles about Dream Work or Actors preparing for roles
  5. Who has been influenced by their dreams or found solutions to problems through dreams

1. Introduction:

In pursuiting creating authentic and nuanced performances, actors have employed various techniques over the years. In recent times, there’s been a growing interest in a groundbreaking technique – inviting dreams to connect with characters, the dynamic of their relationships to other characters and emotions. This unique approach taps into the unconscious mind, potentially unlocking an in-depth understanding of roles.

Understanding the Role of Dreams in Acting Preparation:

Dreams have long been associated with creativity, problem-solving, and emotional exploration. By harnessing the interpretive power of dreams, actors access a level of psychological depth and authenticity.

Enhancing Empathy and Emotional Range:

Dreams are a key element of the human experience, making them a powerful source of emotional inspiration. By immersing themselves in the emotional landscapes of their dreams, actors can expand their empathy and emotional range. This approach enables them to understand and embody characters profoundly, capturing nuances and complexities that might otherwise be missed.


In the ever-evolving world of acting techniques, the invitation of dreams as a tool for preparation represents an exciting frontier. By tapping into the subconscious mind, actors can unlock previously untapped emotional reservoirs, unravel the complexities of their characters, and breathe life into their performances. Jessica Lange, Laura Dern, Kirsten Dunst, Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Andrew Garfield, Sandra Oh, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel and many more have been noted for incorporating dreams into their preparation process.

As the boundaries of artistic exploration continue to stretch, it would not be surprising to witness more actors embracing this fascinating approach in the years to come.


2. Benefits of Dream Work for Actors:

Authenticity and Impact: The interpretive power of dreams helps actors and actresses to tap into their unconscious mind and understand their characters on a deeper level.

Psychological Depth: Dreams provide a pathway to access psychological depth in acting preparation. Actors can uncover hidden emotions and experiences through their dreams, which can significantly inform their performances.

Expanded Empathy: Exploring the emotional landscapes of their dreams enables actors to expand their ability to empathize. By doing so, they can capture the subtle nuances and complexities that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Emotional Range: By tapping into their dreams learn to hold ambivalent feelings without judgment. The non-judgmental nature of dream images allows actors to experience and explore complex emotions, contributing to the development of their emotional range.

Unlocking Emotional Reservoirs: By tapping into their subconscious mind through dreams, actors can unlock previously untapped emotional reservoirs.

Unraveling Character Complexities: Dreams provide actors with insights into the complexities of their characters. Through dream work, actors can unravel the intricacies of their roles and portray them with more depth and understanding.

Read more: Sandra Seacat

“Through studying and through being raised on movie sets, I was surrounded by a lot of people who believed that the more tortured the person, the greater the artist. I always had a hard time understanding that, but thought, “I guess that’s the way it is.” Luckily, through life and the gift of the acting teacher who’s changed my life in so many ways since 1984 – her name is Sandra Seacat – I learned there’s another opinion, which is: the better the person, the better the artist. The more true you are to who you are and the more honest you are as an individual, the more honest you can be as an actor, and I’m really liking that.” – Laura Dern “Profile: Defining Moments” Back Stage West by Jamie Painter Young

3. Workshops in Berlin:

A 4 Day Creative Dream Work Intensive for Artists with Amanda Lovejoy Street

Dreamwork for Actors and Artists with Ken Barnett

4. Articles:

“Dream work” – Guardian

“How a dream coach helped Benedict Cumberbatch and Jane Campion…” – Guardian by Sophie Monks Kaufman

“Why Everyone in Hollywood Is Doing Dream Work” GQ by Gabriella Paiella

“How Studying Your Dreams Can Help Your Art Practice” Artsy by Alexxa Gotthardt

“Meet Time 100 Honoree Sandra Oh’s Inspirational Acting Coach…” Time by Rachel E. Greenspan

“The use of dream enactment requires a careful regard, because it effects a powerful release of memories and emotions. Indeed, it is not unlike the way in which we are affected and moved by a superlative dramatic performance. Only it is more so, because it is, so to speak, closer to the bone.”Robert D. Romanyshyn

“We find our dreams disturbing as they present aspects of ourselves that are inconsistent with how we wish to view ourselves. Knowing that we did not consciously create those dream dramas is a reminder that something inside us, some separate agency of awareness, is observing and reporting in.”James Hollis PH. D


5. There are several well-known examples of artists, musicians, directors, writers, and scientists who have been influenced by their dreams or found inspiration or solutions to problems through dreams.

Here are a few notable examples:

Salvador Dalí: The renowned surrealist painter Salvador Dalí drew inspiration from his dreams. He integrated dreamlike elements and bizarre imagery into his artworks. One of his famous paintings, “The Persistence of Memory,” was inspired by a dream where melting clocks appeared.

Paul McCartney: The melody for the iconic Beatles song “Yesterday” came to Paul McCartney in a dream. He woke up one morning with the tune in his head and immediately wrote it down, considering it a gift from his dreaming mind.

Christopher Nolan: The acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan has mentioned being influenced by his dreams in creating some of his movies. For example, Nolan’s own vivid dreams inspired the concept of dream infiltration and manipulation in the film “Inception”.

Mary Shelley: The idea for Mary Shelley’s classic novel “Frankenstein” came to her in a dream. She dreamt of a scientist creating a horrifying creature, which eventually led to the creation of one of the most significant works in Gothic literature.

Dmitri Mendeleev: The famous chemist Dmitri Mendeleev envisioned the periodic table of elements in a dream. His dream showed him a way to arrange the known elements based on their atomic weights, leading to the development of the modern periodic table.

Richard Feynman: The renowned physicist Richard Feynman once struggled with a complex physics problem related to quantum electrodynamics (QED). He described encountering a vision of rotating plates in a dream, which eventually helped him solve the problem and won him the Nobel Prize in Physics.

James Cameron has attributed the genesis of the Terminator to a dream he had. According to Cameron, he was ill with a high fever at the time and was staying at a small house in Rome in 1982. He had a vivid nightmare that served as the inspiration for the Terminator.

In his dream, Cameron saw a metallic torso that dragged itself out of an explosion, holding kitchen knives as weapons. This image struck him profoundly, and he quickly envisioned this character as a relentless cybernetic assassin. This dream eventually became the basis for the iconic Terminator character.

Cameron started developing the story and script for what would become The Terminator shortly after this dream. He wanted to explore the potential dangers of artificial intelligence and the idea of technology turning against humanity. The film was eventually released in 1984 and became a phenomenal success, launching both Cameron’s career and the Terminator franchise.

Thomas Edison: One of the most popular stories surrounding Thomas Edison’s discovery of the light bulb is attributed to a dream he had, which led him to an important breakthrough. While the events may have been embellished over time, the essence of the story remains remarkable.

In the late 19th century, Edison was tirelessly working to develop a practical and commercially viable electric light. He had tried many designs and filament materials for his incandescent lamp, but none had proven successful in producing a long-lasting and efficient source of light.

Legend has it that one night, after countless failed attempts, Edison fell into a deep sleep while contemplating his problem. In his dream, he found himself in a small dark room with a bare lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. As he reached for the bulb, it suddenly illuminated with an incredible brightness. This striking visual in his dream provided him with a moment of inspiration and a potential solution to his predicament.

Upon waking, Edison excitedly recalled the dream and immediately began experimenting with a newly inspired idea. He used a carbonized bamboo filament instead of the previously tried materials, such as platinum or iridium. This decision ultimately led him to the discovery of a filament that could withstand the electrical current, heat, and provide a long-lasting light source.

After extensive experimentation, Edison finally created a practical and commercially viable incandescent light bulb. He patented his design in 1879 and began the large-scale production of these bulbs, making electric lighting a practical reality for the world.

While the story of Edison’s dream might be embellished, it highlights the importance of creativity, perseverance, and the power of the human imagination in the process of scientific discovery. Edison’s determination to find a solution, combined with the inspiration he gained from his dream, played a pivotal role in revolutionizing the world with electric lighting.

These examples highlight how dreams and images from dreams have influenced and inspired creativity and problem-solving across various artistic and scientific fields.