Document Type

Creative Work

Publication Details

C. McKinnon As I Lay Dreaming 2010 19 July Cast: Zoe Coyle, Sam Haft, Owen Little, Kate Lofting, Graeme McRae, Daniel Milne, Suzanne Pereira, Matilda Ridgway, Lotte St Clair & Lisa WarczakDirected by Joseph UchitelPresented by Parnassus'' DenPerformed at Darlinghurst Theatre -



Research Background

In the middle of the twentieth century, particularly post the Second World War, there was an increasing interest in non-narrative and unreliable narrations to convey human experience as alienated and unstable. In recent years, however, there has been a redeployment of traditional storytelling techniques within meta-narratives that investigate the individual as connected to a wider and complex network of contradictory events, people and stories. This research investigates multi-narration techniques, employing poetic and fragmented narratives, to explore the social impact of death and other traumatic events on human life, and to examine how natural and dream worlds inform our complex social environment.

Research Contribution

This play uses first-person poetic sequences that interrupt and fragment a multi-story narrative to question contemporary engagement with the world. In particular, the ‘dream world’ and the ‘natural world’ are employed as offering viable alternatives to urban experiences, and are used as a means to investigate impulses that underlie notions of youth instability, love, and death. In doing so the text creates a representation of dream and natural world experiences as an inherent and necessary part of the wider social fabric, one that is made up of multiple stories, events and people.

Research Significance

As I Lay Dreaming had a reading directed by Joseph Uchitel at the Parnassus Den, Darlinghurst Theatre; won the 2010 Mitch Matthews award for best play; was Highly Commended in the 2013 Griffin Award; and shortlisted for the 2014 Jill Blewitt Award. A new production is currently in development at Shopfront Theatre.



As I Lay DreamingA group of friends gather by the river to remember a companion who drowned ten years earlier. They find that the river is a meeting place for others: nearby a student argues with his sister who is intent on a burning ritual to erase all memory of her boyfriend; three school kids smoke stolen cigarettes; two men wait for their partner in crime; a lone footballer is looking for thrills; and two university mates indulge in a drinking bout. On this night also, a ghost walks along the banks of the river, waiting for someone who will cross over from life to death. Some of those gathered on the river’s banks meet up with strangers, others with friends, one with a ghost, but all feel the draw of the mysterious river. As the night unfolds each takes a step into the water. As I Lay Dreaming follows the interweaving stories of several people, all linked by the events of one night. It is a story about the awkwardness of new beginnings and the suddenness of endings, about love’s strange currents and the collision of the rational and the irrational, about the lies we tell and the fictions we create, and about how one small event can change the course of our lives forever.