I believe in the willing suspension of disbelief. I believe, as Atticus Finch stated, you must walk around in another man’s shoes in order to truly understand his circumstances. I am a drama teacher. There is a power in re-enactment that no other educational discipline can assure. When a student assumes a role in a play, Shakespeare or Simon, she is walking around in another’s shoes. I believe schools should put as many resources into their arts programs as they do into any others. I believe there is no greater team experience than that of creating a beautiful story with an ensemble of players…like in an orchestra, no one person is scoring any more points than another, they are simply cooperating in the most sublime way imaginable. I believe my students are introduced to various human conditions in the drama classroom that enhance their belief that we are more alike than different. I believe if every human was a student of the drama there would be fewer wars…I really do. The next time you find yourself in a dispute with someone else…take a moment and talk to yourself as if you were that person, just a moment, see what happens. I believe when you go to the theatre, if you are willing to suspend your disbelief, you will wind up believing that there is nothing so transcendent as the human condition. The greatest stories of human strife and joy have been told in the arena. While a student may first step on the stage to be seen and applauded, it is within the deep investigation of a character that true learning takes place. A play is structured like any epiphanous experience; there is an arc of emotions that are ignited by the inciting incident that then soars through the rising action to the eventual crisis/climax. When the denouement finally settles into calm…it’s only a matter of time until another drama or comedy begins anew. (see Aristotle’s Poetics) The drama can humble you down to earth and launch you into exhilaration. (see Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream respectively) I believe you can still maintain a certain amount of cynicism while you are suspending your disbelief. A student once told me he hated musicals because nobody stops in the middle of a street and sings about how they are in love, and I said, “Yeah, but wouldn’t it be so cool if they did?”
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