There's a sense in which all of life is acting. We have roles—and just as we deem a performer's work good or bad, we are capable of fulfilling those roles poorly or well. Of course, there's more at stake in real life than onstage or on-screen, but the Bard wasn't just being clever when he said life's a stage and we're actors on it.
Among Christians, the performing arts have often been condemned as unrighteous, too worldly, unfit for God's people. In very many instances, those are reasonable conclusions. Plays, circuses, parades, movies, exhibitions: these have all been forums for widespread immorality. But they can also each be used as expressions of the human condition, and in this capacity they can do much good.
A good play or movie is no more than a kinetic representation of life as we know it, along with any insights the scriptwriter includes. The characters act our their own life stories,biographies that could belong to any of us in the audience; we watch, we reflect, we respond, and if the actors have done their job well, we are moved or changed.
So maybe we should watch more plays or better movies, you might say, but why should we read biographies of actors or performers? who cares about what they're like off-stage? To know what constantly putting on another's face can do to a person. Because, while we're acting everyday, we are still essentially the same person, whereas an actor becomes any number of people, sometimes multiple personalities in a single evening.
This is the great irony: that, while watching a play or movie can be very constructive and helpful for the viewers, a lifetime dedicated to the work of portrayal can often lead to a profound loss of identity and a faceless carnality. Not all actors do this—some manage to remain upright (even Christian) throughout long careers, and these we hold as heroes; the rest, merely as examples to avoid.
Not allperformers are worth reading about, either. Those who've made significant strides or contributions to their fields are probably going to have more interesting and enlightening stories than a pretty summer blockbuster face, or the hunk who's always wrestling robots and shooting big guns. Our selection is consequently limited, though (we believe) it is sufficient.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
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