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Handbook Appendices Forms Theatre Scholarships For Theatre Majors, Minors, and Intendeds University Theatre Handbook Table of Contents Theatre Home

A.1.c. The Christian and the theatre.

Question Two: The theatre, and acting in particular, is so sensual at base.  It’s bound to destroy any spiritual balance in life.

Somewhat closely related to the fear of the actor as egocentric is the fear of the physicality or sensuality of acting.  The church, from its inception, has had to deal with the particular­ity of our being at once physical and spiritual beings.  Because  the church must draw attention to the "spiritual" nature of the human condition, it has been plagued by the cyclical emergence of the heresy of Gnosticism, a tempting philosophy widespread in the evangelical church of today.  This current manifestation of Gnosticism is seen in the “super-spiritual” syndrome that places all emphasis on the spirit: whatever is spiri­tual is good.  At the same time it demeans the physical, and anything associated with the physical—such as is found in the very physicality of the incarnational action of “acting.”  Simply stated: anything that focuses on the spirit is good, while anything that seems to focus on the physical is evil.  The immediate ramification therefore for the physicality of the acting process is that it is considered at best “tainted” and at worst evil.

The incarnational actor transforms the “word” into “flesh” without apology.  It is in the flesh that the word is mediated and made available to the audience members in direct ways (such as movement, energy, sound, tone, intensity, vocal color, gesture), as well as in indirect, contemplative ways (through words, sentences, their arrangements, their meanings, and the arguments they form intellectually).  The audience “feels” what it is like to “be” that character, or to “do” that act.  God, in the person of Christ became flesh in order to know and save humans.  The “Word” must “become Flesh” to make a difference.  The actor is a primary means to that end.


Next Section: Question Three

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