Axioms of the theater
Writing about dance yesterday reminded me of my work in theater. I acted and directed in high school, performed in a song & dance troupe in college, and acted, directed and produced community theater when my daughter was small and I was a stay-at-home mom. [All this led to my decision to move to LA in the early ’90s, but that’s another story!]
Along the way, I collected several theater axioms, or unshakable truths. I’ve found they apply not only to theater but to life.
- Action reveals character, not speech
This was from a script writing class. When you’re writing a script, the most compelling way to reveal character is to have them *do* something, not just talk about it. “Show it, don’t say it” is another way of expressing it in writer’s terms. What we *do* tells who we are, not what we *say.* This was a lightbulb moment to me, because I realized it completely applies to life and relationships. Until then, I’d place an inordinate amount of confidence in what people said about themselves or about how they felt about me. When I instead sifted out their words and focused on their actions, things became a lot clearer. Likewise, I learned I couldn’t just talk about caring for people or wanting to help—I had to take action. I had to be there for them. Talking did nothing—action did.
- Timing is everything
- This was from working with a cast trying to do comedy on stage. Comedy exists because of timing. The joke has to come in such a way that the audience will experience fully both the set-up and the execution. The worst thing to do is tell another joke while the audience is still laughing at the last one! In life, as well, we sometimes have to experience the set-up before we get the punch line. This can take time. If we rush things, the joke falls flat. I’ve often turned to this axiom when feeling impatient with how things are rolling out. When divine Mind is the director, the timing of all the characters and the action is perfect, and I can trust that.
- Commit to your material
This was from getting to know a magician many years ago. He would tell me that even if his material was silly, when he committed to it 100% on stage, he could still make it work. You can have the best material in the world, but if you execute it in a wishy-washy way, it goes nowhere. Same as in life. Yesterday’s blog entry on dance talked about this as well. If you’re going to do something, do it 100%. To me, this is especially relevant to spiritual healing. If you’re wanting to pursue healing in a way that flies in the face of what the world would tell you to do, you’ve got to give it your all. You’ve got to make it a top priority, and let it take you where you need to go.
See you in the footlights!
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