What is acting but pretending to be another persona, be it person or anthropomorphized other? The actors with the most depth are in touch with their feelings. You cannot understand another person’s feelings until you understand your own, and you cannot understand your own feelings and not understand another’s. The two understandings are one understanding; we are all the same beneath adulthood’s idealized veneer of controlled, disciplined maturity. It is no coincidence that the healthiest way of relating to another is to understand yourself first, then relate to the other in such a way that conversation brings clarity to them and further insight into you. We are each other, after all, beneath the smothering layers of denial. And we see this when we don the robes of another, put on their voice and their mask, and act them.
Acting is yet another in a long line of oneness facsimiles, in two ways. First, it is a means to understanding oneself in direction relationship to another personality type (or your own, if you’re pretending to be another character a little closer to yourself). True for the actor; true for the audience. The audience takes in the whole act, with its subtext, its consciously written and directed lessons. They relate to certain characters based on whatever is going on in their lives or the memories to which they cling. A good play gets the audience thinking about their lives and the issues of the world at large. A good movie can do that, but these days concentrates more on running from explosions and human-hacking technology.
Second, acting is a reminder of our oneness. We may say that it’s a reminder of how alike we all are and leave it at that, but think about the actor, what the actor goes through. The actor has to inhabit another personality, has to be as one with another within him or her self, and then has to cooperate with a cast and crew to “bringing to life” a singular vision that an audience then has to buy into. The singular vision is only alive if everyone from actor to audience is willing to “suspend disbelief”—to put their lives on hold—and step into the imaginal realm of that vision. This happens when the actor takes the stage. Takes the spotlight. All eyes on him or her. The actor feels like the only person in the world and either succumbs to stage freight or else is so embedded in the character, in the moment, that he or she transcends and in so doing defines the moment.
Then, at the end of the show, there is a bow. There are accolades. There’s the ego gratification bringing actor and audience back to normal consciousness outside of the hypnotic bubble. But before the ego becomes a narcissist, the singular bows become a group bow and then a nod and a wave to the crew still working in the wings and the back of the auditorium. Unless, of course, it’s a movie. Then there’s no closure. It’s just ego all the way down.
I: the ultimate facsimile of oneness. What a performer.