Theatre of Everyday Life-or-Presentation of Self in Everyday Life

The Pursuit of Attention -or- Playing to an Audience in the Global Village

People compete for attention in everyday life. Charles Derber's, "Pursuit of Attention: Power and Individualism in Everyday Life" underscores this dramatic ludic idea. Erving Goffman, "Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" uses the dramatic imagery of theatre to understand the "mise en scene" of human behaviour. We can find this dramaturgical behaviour of "attention seeking" in our dreams. Here is one such dream; 

Mary, 39 

I've had a bizarre and mildly disturbing dream. I was at an audition for a theatrical musical. When I started singing, everyone who was there to audition, people just started speaking over me. I kept singing louder, but to no avail. That's all I remember. 

Mr Hagen's Reply: Auditions -or- Job Interviews and Performance Evaluations 

If for you, the dream is bizarre and mildly disturbing, then everyday life must also seem to be that way. Your dream is the stuff "job interviews" are made of. Is it a small wonder that even the wikipedia article (follow link) about auditions compares them, to job interviews? Erving Goffman's "Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" uses a dramaturgical perspective to understand human face to face interaction, relationships and the drama of everyday life. The fact that when you get your turn to sing everyone else starts to drown you out, shows the competitiveness for employment. That is the mildly disturbing part, noone cares about you, only themselves. Said differently, they only care about their own dreams. 

Postscript: Screen Tests -or- Attention Seeking Behaviour in Dreams 

If dreams are like auditions, then they are also like screen tests. That attention seeking plays an important role in dreams and everyday life is underscored by the dream interpretations below; 

Further Reading: 

  • Charles Derber, "The Surplus American: How the 1% Is Making Us Redundant"


All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.