Power Plays of Acting

Alexander - Park Ridge, Illinois
Entered on January 12, 2009

I’ve always been a history buff and, over the course of my reading, its become apparent to me that without acting life would have no meaning. From the farthest corners of the world and the deepest annals of history, performing has influenced the lives of everyone it has touched. As unbelievable as it may sound, acting is something that challenges the way we look at the world, and it does so by challenging all of our senses. It’s life you can feel; it’s music you can see; and its lessons are built to be tasted and savored for years to come. Many people have said that they’re just “not into” theatre, and so, dismiss the power of plays and performances as a powerful influence on human nature. Well, simply put, they’re wrong.

Although most won’t admit it, teenagers thrive on putting on a show. The drama surrounding everyday life during puberty can easily form a thick fog, but it means nothing in the end. This drama and constant harassment is one way of putting on a tragedy, and everyone is guilty of it at some point. Take any of my friends (or yours). Most people have acted like fools in public for one reason or another; maybe you lost a bet or were simply hyperactive, but you’ve acted before. By shouting in the hallways, by jumping up on furniture and by doing the most odd, outlandish things humanly contrivable, you have been a performer. Shakespeare once said that “all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” So this world is a theatre in and of itself, and so you are an actor or actress.

That’s precisely how people who say that they aren’t “into theatre” are wrong. The science of speaking and telling stories has been so intricately woven into the human record, that it is now impossible to go through daily life without performing. The people who change the world, however, aren’t the people who act by happenstance. They aren’t the people who act out every so often and are later embarrassed because of their sudden and obvious burst from the crowd. They are those who stand above and beyond the crowd for being eccentric, sometimes widely regarded as weirdo’s and possibly even outcasts entirely. But this is the true beauty of acting: no matter how isolated and cast down an actor or actress becomes, they will always find someone to listen. By being pushed and, in some ways, pulling further away from the crowd, they highlight themselves more. In this way, they inspire others to break from the crowd, and reveal to them things that they never saw within themselves, which, in turn, allows them to drift higher away, reaching nirvana on a stage. I cannot claim to be an expert on this area; I myself have only been drifting away from the crowd for two years professionally, but, at the same time, I can say I’m an expert at acting because, like any and all of you, I have been communicating with people for my whole life. From goo-goo ga-ga to professional speeches and conversations in passing, each and every one of the six billion people on this planet has given enough performances for a stockpile of Emmy awards.

I believe in the power of plays. I believe in each person’s ability to influence the whole world over by using their voice with absolutely no shame and with no regard for what they might lose. So, go ahead, stand up, say something that you might be attacked for, act like a fool, smile. In this regard, and in this regard alone, are you alive. You are the person who can best play your part in this grand illusion known as life. When all the masks are taken off, the jock may thrown down his helmet, the cheerleader her poms, the nerd his glasses and the politician his fake smile and quaffed hair; but when all those masks are clattering to the ground with empty ringing tones that tear through the air like so many blades of glass, the actor can smile, and know that they’ve worn no mask. They are who they are. And that freedom is the power play of acting.