Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ultimate Umbilicus 9/08/09

We are all actors playing the fiction called Human Life.

DB - The Vagabond
Welcome back.
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.


Cathy said...

I happily applaud your choice of buttons! This play we're trying to study our lines for becomes ever-increasingly mundane - you're an artist perhaps you can answer: is it the onslaught of age? Another thinking-human's post, thank you.

salemslot9 said...

sent you an email

pacifica62 said...

Is there a controller,a manipulator, an organizer, a director? I would prefer to think that in my life it is me. From Invictus" I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul". Is my life real, well since I have nothing else to compare it to I would say it was till I experience otherwise. Totally non fiction though or so I think.
DB a question for you. When the Academy Award Winning movie comes out "Requiem for an Actor -- the Life and Times of DB - the Vagabond, who gets to play the part of you ?

miss alaineus said...

i'm with pacifica on this one- we are the ones in charge here.


Selchie said...

I think one of the sad things is perhaps how little we realise how much control we have in creating our own reality. Once we do I believe we will create an amazing place.
Lovely post, thank you.


Char said...

I think I like that button! Some say that real life is just a dress rehursal. Sounds good to me.

Beth said...

I'm with those commenters who believe that we are the ones in charge. We may not always have control over random things that happen to us, but we do control how we react to them. Hugs, Beth

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

It would be presumptious of us to believe that there was a director out there controlling our day-to-day lives. The bigger picture, that is another story :o)

Nina P. said...

Ah, I do believe there is a Director of sorts. Creating scenes, backdrops, and timing entrances and exits. And maybe even prompting a line or two, or encouraging a shy new actor to take up their place and be the story, feel the part, and act the depths of the scene. I feel the director has great confidence in the actors and allows their interpretation of the play to proceed un thwarted. Yet if miscued on a dark stage, the Director might shine a Light to highlight a mark, accentuate the plot, and cast shadows away. A director that applauds the improvisation and imagination of the actors, yet timing and guiding the show."Real Life Isn't Like This".... but it's better than the alternative. I embrace my part with Light and Love, Nina P.

Big Mark 243 said...

I wanted to let you know that I read this entry and plan on reading the next.

The line you used near the end, the answer to your big question is one that I often ponder. And it is on my mind now.

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.

And I trust that what I believe is what I know. When I know different, I will believe differently, how is that?