Theatre is a beautiful art because it is, at it's core, a philosophy. Though first and foremost entertainment, the art of putting on an act has exploded beyond the Greek stage and into our daily lives.
Performance touches every part of our lives from TED talks to business presentations and College Gameday to Colin Cowherd. Now with social media, every part of our lives becomes a daily exercise in performance. We Tweet jokes and quips we enjoy hoping people will laugh with us, snap artistic moments in our life in order to get hearts on Instagram, post political views and funny videos on Facebook to get a rise out of people.
The power of film and theatre is that it distills the performance back down to its basic parts. When we see Mr. Manningham and Bella in Gaslight on a stage we take the meditative stance and observe the horrific actions. When we see kids playing our D&D in Stranger Things we allow ourselves to relax and enjoy nostalgia.
Today, all the world's a stage, perhaps more than it ever has been. The actions of our youth are documented for the world to see on Facebook. Those pictures Mom used to share only to embarrass us with friends are now available for anyone with a cellphone and search engine. Every bad haircut or fleeting philosophy can quickly become a change of character. How many of us still hold on to the view of the world we did when we were 16? 18? 21? 24?
Rhetoric, branding, marketing, presentation, these are now every day tools of the modern world. As some people dig deeper into digital creation, the power of public persona increases day by day. Therefore, what can we learn now that our day to day lives are borderline entertainment?
Number one, we must all understand oration and presentation better than ever. Public speaking is more than merely standing up your Senior Year of High School and presenting a poorly drafted speech you half wrote and then decided to wing about The Iliad. As interpersonal skills weaken, and more and more of our colleagues become entrenched in digital, we must develop our skills as speakers and as leaders. Now, this does not mean that every man should strive to be Jared Leto or Daniel Day Lewis, however, it does mean that with a little research into Cicero and Breathing Techniques we can gain a leg up when it comes to public persona.
Number Two, everything matters. If you are going to document your life on social media, then do not be surprised when it comes back to bite you in the ass years later. Though he existed well before the internet, Donald Trump is a prime example of how creating one public persona in our youth, hurts us in later years. Politics aside, Trump wanted the world to view him as a Playboy when he was younger. He did this by branding himself on the Howard Stern Show as well as other platforms that associated him with money and philandering. Today, Trump has set his eyes on the White House, and the man who prizes his public image has an utter image crisis. What can we learn here? All the world's stage. We are a nation obsessed by documenting our day to day lives, and while we should not fret over the throws of every internet post, we must acknowledge and own up to everything we choose to post and share.
So with the old traditions of theatre and celebration guiding, invisibly, our day to day lives and shaping our world view, we must understand how to use these tactics to our advantages. Acting, at its core, is a practical art: use what is useful and discard the rest. We must take the knowledge we learn on stage, and be able to apply it to our lives. What good is Hamlet if we cannot learn from it? What good is Chekhov's work if we do not listen?
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