We are all actors playing the fiction called Human Life.
DB - The Vagabond
The time has come once again to talk about my button.
Shakespeare knew a lot about human life.
"I hold the world but as the world,
A stage, where every man must play his part."
(The Merchant of Venice)
"All the world's a stage
And all the men and women merely players."
(As You Like It)
I appeared on the first day of rehearsal for a new play. When the director passed out the scripts we found that all we had were our own lines and the few final words of the lines before them. The director believed that actors should not know the ploy ahead of time but only discover it in the rehearsal process, which, as far as the art of theatre is concerned, is a profoundly stupid idea. That director was a controller, a manipulator who wanted to own the actors' creative lives. It was not the way any serious artist would do business. I dropped out.
The actor, more than anyone else, knows about the uncertainties of life. On the stage we translate fiction into reality and reality into fiction. To explain that concept probably takes a career. But there is a certain alchemy involved that goes by unnoticed by almost everyone occupied in the doing of it. I didn't notice it myself until a wise man said to me, hearing that I was an actor, "How fortunate you are to be able to show that human life is a fiction."
One day at work, many years ago, a colleague brought in a bag full of buttons. They were the metal buttons with a pin on the back that you pin to your shirt, jacket. or back pack Those buttons had graphics and cute sayings: "Kiss me I'm Irish" and so on. There were a lot of buttons and the fellow invited us to take some. Among them was one and only one button that read "Real Life Isn't Like This" and I knew it was my button. Not only was it a funny remark which I appreciated but it also had a philosophical challenge to it. I had a denim jacket in those days. I pinned it to my jacket and displayed it for many years. It evoked all sorts of remarks from the banal to the introspective. I finally stopped wearing it when the jacket gave out, but I still have the button.
So then here we are in a play we haven't read. We think maybe we know what the story is about, what comes next and how it comes out. Armed with our myths and fantasies, our hopes, dreams, wishes, our memories, experiences, thoughts and feelings, our fears and desires, our abilities and limitations, our certainties and questions, we are wondering all the way if we're getting it right. Is this what life is really like? It's a question that goes unnoticed by almost everyone occupied in the day by day, moment by moment process of living.
In the theatre we need a script even more than we need a director. But in life there is no script. So the big question is, Is there a controller, a manipulator, an organizer, a director? I don't know, I only know what I believe.
But I know that my religious friends (and my non-religious friends) have interesting opinions about it. I invite them to reply. Please. (It's not a contest.)
DB - Vagabond Journeys
Back to school with you.