LOSING SLEEP  A Play by Dean Poynor


What will you hold on to, when you're losing sleep?



LOSING SLEEP is an intimate portrait of loss and recovery that challenges us to look deeply into the reasons why we hold on to our past. It takes place in a sleep lab, a place where people who are having problems sleeping come for medical diagnosis and treatment. Over the course of a few nights, John must face his past and reconcile with his future, or he may never fall asleep again.



John exists in a meaningless limbo, holding on to his past with a dream of his former wife. He hides from the world by working in a sleep lab - a medical facility for people who can't sleep. Every night patients come to him looking for a cure, and tries to diagnose their problems with the limited tools he has. He has exiled himself so that he can avoid contact with anything that would disturb his carefully guarded grief. His only true companion in his pain is a ghost who visits him during the night.

One evening, a patient appears who has been suffering from insomnia and nightmares. Gina comes to the sleep lab to find out what's wrong with her, but she discovers that only John has the cure. This is not welcome news to John's past, and the ghost now becomes more annoying, knocking things over and running amuck in the lab.

John is torn between his past, the ghost, and this new person promising a chance at love. We see him dissect his own feelings like a doctor, and we realize that he would rather be dreaming, desperately hoping that it's real. In order to move on, he must free himself from her grip, and acknowledge that he has been holding on to his past life. But what do we lose when we break with our past? What should we keep, and what should we leave behind? How can we recover, slowly, like waking up, and begin to re-engage this new life?

Cast: 6 (3f; 3m)
Running Time: Approx. 110 min (one intermission)


Development and Production History

LOSING SLEEP was developed at the Iowa Summer Writers Festival after a long period of germination. Special thanks to Kate Aspengren. Also thanks to readings with Trustus Theatre in Columbia, South Carolina, and the Texas Repertory Theatre Company in Houston, Texas.

  Reading in New York with Ten Grand Productions at the Algonquin Theatre.

  Winner of the 2008 Helford Prize ($10,000) from Jacksonville University.

LOSING SLEEP received its world premiere production by the American Theatre of Actors in New York City. The show opened August 26, 2009 at the Sergeant Theatre - 314 W. 54th Street, New York, NY with the following cast:

  FRANK - Ken Coughlin
  JOHN - Adam Smith
  RENEE - Irene Antoniazzi
  MITCH - Jonathan Reed Wexler
  GINA - Kristina Olson
  ESTHER - Valerie O'Hara

The producer was James Jennings, and the Director was Michael Bordwell.


More Information

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