The Christian and the theatre.
Christians participate in an activity which apparently asks them to embrace
hypocrisy while opening them to great temptations of egocentricity?
have been characterized as being shallow and without shape or true self, and absent
stable personhood, who can therefore appear to be anyone at will.
Or, alternatively, they are viewed as hiding behind a mask of self-indulgence,
incapable of either love or virtue Clearly, the Christian
artist must argue an alternative, more truthful paradigm for understanding the
is unfortunate that the modern theatre (and especially the film industry) has
provided many self-indulgent, egocentric examples. The
contrived image of the “star” seems to exemplify and
reinforce the charge which Christians often make against theatre as corrupting
of performers. The public lives of many of the "stars" too often appear to reinforce
the notion that actors have no soul, no honest moral "self", and are incapable
of anything other than self-indulgence. The person
and the craft are seen as mere chicanery.
Christian performer’s response must assert that quality acting is not just
learning “performance tricks" in order to be able to "fool" the audience.
The actor must be an honest representation of the character and the
humanity of the audience, becoming a true metaphor for the human experience.
Honesty leaves no room for hypocrisy.
Anything less is not artistry but mere show.
Furthermore, a performer is always part of an ensemble, an
ensemble which not only includes other actors with whom he or she appears
on-stage, but every member of the larger company who have worked
on the production. Ensemble can only be
destroyed by egocentricity, and therefore the honest member of the production
team must voluntarily or otherwise avoid it.
task of acting has to do with the artistic revelation of different "persona" potentially
contained in each one of us, rather than hiding behind a soulless ego-driven mask
of self. "Persona", a root word describing the actor,
is the Latin term for mask. It is also the word used
by Tertullian to describe God as "one substantia", yet
at the same time "three personae.” God
revealed in three masks (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is a striking image, and
one reflective of the actor’s artistry in revealing humanity through the
mask or persona of different characters while yet remaining one true self.
notion of exploring other human beings through the taking-on of a persona is especially
applicable when referring to the incarnational action of God in Christ "who being
in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself
of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant...."
The actor’s art, for the Christian artist, is incarnationally
based, making the words of the script "flesh." The
actor is to be the servant of all humanity, whose task is making more clear the
nature of existence. All Christian theatre artists
create in order to serve, not to be served through self aggrandizement.
In this service the actor uses all her resources; personal and interpersonal,
intuitive and educated, artistic and observational, as tools to reveal what it
means to be human in the "mask" or "persona" for the enjoyment and enrichment
of the audience.
Section: Question Two