Today, I would like to share with you a comparison that I stumbled upon recently between theatre and God.
I am a theatre nerd. I was introduced to theatre, or drama club as it were, my sophomore year in high school. My junior year in high school I was treasurer of our drama club and by my senior year I was president. I hold both a B.A. in technical theatre and an M.A. in speech with the focus on theatre. I have worked in professional theatre, equity and non-equity, and community theatre. Overall, I spent more than ten years of my life working in theatre in some form or fashion. And, while I haven’t worked on a play in about eighteen years, I will always love it and it will always hold a dear place in my heart and life.
When most people think of theatre, or plays, the first thing that comes to mind is acting and/or actors. Most people’s acquaintance to theatre is as an audience member, so that makes a lot of sense. However, there is considerably more to theatre than meets the eye. It is made up of markedly more than just the actors and acting.
There is a whole other world that takes place behind the scenes and an abundance of work that goes into every production prior to the “finished” product that you witness. What makes theatre so magical, in my humble opinion, is that, if done correctly, as an audience member, you don’t even realize this part of it. What you get is simply a seamless experience—an escape, if you will, into another universe. You should be so immersed in that play’s particular environment, that you don’t even notice everything that is happening behind the scenes--the practical logistics of it. And, trust me, there are a slew of logistics!
As I noted above, my degrees are in technical theatre. Most people don’t really understand what that term means, so let me enlighten you. Technical theatre encompasses scenery, lighting, costuming, sound, and properties. Basically, it is everything that goes into a production other than the acting. And, it takes an army of people to get all of this work done. You have playwrights, dramaturgs, stage directors, production or stage managers, technical directors, scene designers, lighting designers, costume designers, prop designers, sound designers, carpenters, scenic charge artists (or painters), electricians, audio engineers, prop masters, costumers, stagehands, and board operators. If you are producing a musical you can add in musicians and choreographers. (And, these are just the people that come to mind right now, I am sure I am forgetting some people—my apologies to my fellow theatre peeps.)
So, what does any of this have to do with God and being a Christian? Well, a great deal.
I like to think of God as our playwright. He created us and brought us into being. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. (See Hebrews 12:2). Each of us is a character in this play called “Life.” And, we each play a critical role, weather we realize it or not. As Konstantin Stanislavski, the great Russian theatre practitioner, once remarked, “there are no small parts, only small actors.” We each play the lead role in our own lives. And, while the role we play in our own lives is critical, our roles are just as meaningful and necessary in the grand scheme of things, or the play of “Life” that I referred to earlier.
And while God is our playwright, He is also every theatre technician that I mentioned above, working furiously behind the scenes of our lives. Rarely, if ever, do we get a chance to see “behind the curtain” of heaven, but there are about a bazillion things going on back there. (Much the same as it is in theatre.)
If you went backstage during a show, you would see lots of folks running around and doing stuff that made zero sense to you. Even if you are a bonafide theatre nerd like me, and have a good idea of what is happening, you would never fully understand all the intricacies of it unless you were a part of it from the beginning. And, the only entity who has been around since the beginning is God. Only He knows what He doing. As a Christian, I am learning and growing every day—but I only grasp a very small part of His overall grand design. So, much like being backstage during a play, oftentimes our own lives make very little sense. And, that’s ok. What matters most is how it all comes together in the end.
As an audience member, a good audience member, it is our job to sit back and take it all in. We, as good audience members, must do what is referred to as “the willing suspension of disbelief.” Basically, this means that it is necessary for us to accept the given premises and parameters of the story unfolding in front of us. It is our job to simply believe. It is both a very easy and a very complicated thing to do. Just believe.
I really like what Ed Hooks has to say about this topic:
“A theatrical experience is a unique thing. Think about it, focusing for the moment on the legitimate theatre: Actors, audience members, tech crews all come together at the same time in the same place for a common purpose. Their meeting is not any more random than meetings at church, synagogue or mosque. The purpose of this meeting is to share a theatrical experience, and all parties – including the audience members - have to work together to make it happen.”
In theatre, as with life, we have to work together to make the desired outcome happen.
As audience members at a play, we have no idea what is going on backstage. This is how it is and how it should be. As members of the audience of the play, we have to work together and believe, with the actors and tech crews, to make the theatrical experience happen.
As members of the body of Christ, we have no idea what is going on behind the scenes in heaven. Again, this is how it is and how it should be. We have to work together with God and believe in Him and trust Him and all that He is doing behind the scenes.
If we work successfully with the actors and tech crews at a play, we should walk away with a joyful, fulfilling experience. All we have to do is just believe.
If we work successfully together with God, we should come away with a joyful, fulfilling life. All we have to do is just believe.
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.