“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players” – William Shakespeare, As You Like It
“First we discover who society says we are; then we build our identity on performance in that part… We are created in the performance” – Ernest Becker
Do you sometimes feel trapped in a life not quite your own, playing a role you didn’t choose? Are you being who others have told you to be? Many people live scripted lives, falling into roles that started taking shape in their childhood based on the expectations of others. Those lives become habitual, automatic, trancelike. If you feel like an actor reading scripted lines, stop. Become the writer, or the producer, or the director. Run the show.
For the next few minutes, step out of your role and watch the movie of your life. What is the title? Is it a comedy, drama, romance, adventure, tragedy? What do you want it to be? What are the recurring themes? What is the moral of the story?
Become a critic. Do the defining scenes give the plot a coherent narrative trajectory? Does the protagonist meander aimlessly from scene to scene, or is he or she driven irresistably toward something of significance? Are there unpredictable twists that move the story forward, or is each scene pretty much like the last? There’s a reason movies don’t have paperwork heroes, shuffling documents and processing data. If it’s not worth spending two hours watching, then it’s not worth building a life around.
Would you recommend the movie to others? If not, remember that the remaining scenes haven’t been filmed yet. It’s not too late to send the plot in a more meaningful direction. Choose set locations that resonate with you. Write more compelling dialogue. Infuse each scene with grand, dramatic moments. Captivate the audience with something magical. Create an epic, transcendent, timeless work of art.
If you don’t want to run the show, and prefer to just to play a role, then be sure to choose a role you enjoy. The scenes are too short and too important to simply read your lines and exit. Go off script, and force others to as well. Sing, dance, improvize, express yourself. Deserve your screen time; steal the scenes with something spectacular. And don’t let other characters dictate your behavior. They are merely extras. They don’t even have speaking parts unless you choose to put them in the movie.
This is not a rehearsal.
The cameras are rolling, and there won’t be a second take.
We are live.