Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Theatrical Universe

Though my interests lie in the intellectual, my roots actually deal far more with the artistic than the abstract. To put it a little more clearly, I come from a theater family. My great-grandparents (Ruth and Nathan Hale) were the founders of a series of theaters scattered across the Western United States, several of which bear their name. My parents run one of these, the Hale Center Theater Orem.

All of this means that I was brought up around the stage. I am familiar with theatrical nomenclature, and rules such as "don't touch props" were drilled into my head from a very young age. And while I am not much of an actor myself, I know quite a few of them.

In my time with these actors, I have become aware of the two dominant ways by which it is possible for them to do their jobs: technique and method acting. If you are a technique actor, you ideally control your movements, facial expressions, tones of voice, etc. with exact precision. You know precisely what to do to elicit a certain emotion, and have excellent control over your physical body. However, if you are a method actor, you forgo all deliberateness for an entirely different approach. The method actor, in short, tries to be their role. Insofar as they are able, they consciously try to forget that the world beyond the boundaries of the stage exists, making their mind into the character's mind (at least until the curtain call). Some method actors will even try to "be" their role while offstage, (or off-camera) in order to integrate themselves into it as much as they can.

The reader may wonder what this has to do with mysticism, or even with religion. To that reader, I offer this observation: I believe, as Shakespeare said, that the entire world is a stage. We, as immortal spirits, are the actors which play out the roles of our lives, acting the highs and the lows of our existence as a piece of art. But our spirits do not merely act - they are method actors. In fact, they are so good at it that they rarely, if ever, even recall that they are in a play. And you don't, do you? Yes, I believe that the veil of forgetfulness mentioned in doctrine is nothing less than a fourth wall separating us from our audience and director, none other than God himself.

But doesn't this necessarily conflict with the seriousness of God's plan? Wouldn't it be negating the gravity of salvation to see it through such a light-hearted lens? I don't think so. You see, to display the world as a performance puts the plan of God into incredible context, as it means that we are creating a work of art for the glory of God. Everything we do gains a certain significance when looked at artistically, (as expounded upon here) and so to do this with the plan of salvation makes it infinitely more meaningful. We are judged based on our works, sure. But I believe that we can see our works in the context of a performance. Like any performance, our director will judge the actors by how well they follow the script. And what, pray tell, is this script? It is the role we are foreordained to play, as seen in patriarchal blessings and other places. Of course, this director is a little laid-back, and so we are allowed quite a few artistic liberties. Ultimately, however, God sifts the actor-wheat from the actor-chaff by seeing how well we perform whatever it is we perform.

This has an amazing consequence. As with any play, the hardest roles in this life will be played by the best actors. Think of those born into destitute circumstances or with disabilities - they were given that role so that they could shine where others could not. They are not in any way being punished - God is challenging them due to their ability.

Finally, this play will end as all other plays do, with a curtain call. All of us, whether currently on life's stage or not, will drop our act and show ourselves for who we really are.  At that point, we will no longer see the world as a place full of suffering and misery; we will celebrate it for the masterpiece that it is, giving a magnificent bow amid raucous applause.

I look forward to that day, and to the remainder of the performance preceding it. Break a leg!

1 comment:

  1. My favorite, yet! Wonderful. You brought me to tears. Are you sure you are only a Freshman undergrad? Your writing is amazing!