Theatre is said to be a performing art that is always changing and whose every performance is unique (Downs 472). While there is a set definition of theatre, there hasn’t been a set reason as to why we do theatre, and many people such as Aristotle and Plato have come to a disagreement as to what that very nature is. However as a Christian I would have to say that I disagree with the philosophy of Plato and do believe that theatre helps open the mind of the viewers to see the world through a whole different lens.
Plato argues that theatre should only be allowed if we ensure that it contains only characters that are suitable as role models, because it manipulates the way people think and make them forget who they are (Downs 6-7). However I believe that Plato really didn’t want viewers to see the world as it really was. It’s like Plato along with those who installed these beliefs in him wanted us to see a picture perfect world that didn’t really exist. The sad thing is that to some extent the government still control the way we view things through other entertainment. Plato’s view reminds me of the Christian nature.
Take North Central and all their rules, for example. “Students may not work or attend any event that serves alcohol, students are not permitted to visit any other students of the opposite sex outside of visitation hours, students are only permitted to watch movies rated PG 13 on campus, students aren’t allowed any piercings but ears and nose and if they have any others, it shall be removed, they are only allowed to change their hair to natural colors, and the restrictions of certain websites such as Victoria secret etc, during internet usage (NCU Student Guide).
It’s like they are telling us that we can express ourselves in however we choose to, but at the same time putting a line up as to how far we can go and choices as to the only ways we can express ourselves, afraid that how we dress, what we watch, listen to and do is going to stop us from being Christians. But no matter how many rules there are, North Central can’t become this picture perfect place, they can’t hide how life really is and form us into something we are not.
I understand that they want to protect us and do what’s best. However hiding how things really are by putting us into a shell only makes things more complicated in the end. According to Webster’s dictionary, a role-model is a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others (Webster Online). Plato said that theatre should only be allowed if they have characters that are role models (Downs 7), but who determines what or who a good role model is? A role model isn’t just one particular type of person.
A role model can come in many different forms. Most people look for role models who have been through what they have been through, and overcame obstacles they faced in life that the particular imitator is still trying to overcome. Besides, if Plato suggests that characters act as role models to be able to be in theatre does that mean he didn’t mind if they weren’t role models off stage? Aristotle said “nature tends towards perfection, but doesn’t always attain it. We tend to be healthy but become sick, we tend to be non-violent but there’s war, we tend toward love but there is hate. Therefore, we need art and theatre to correct the deficiencies of nature by clarifying, interpreting, and idealizing life (Downs 7). I feel like this is true in so many ways, We tend to try to be perfect in everything that we do that it has in a way became our human nature. There isn’t a need to be perfect, and as a Christian we all know that nobody is and will ever be perfect accept for God.
We are all going to make mistakes in everything that we do, but instead of trying to cover up those mistakes, to cover up the flaws in our society to make it seem like we have a this perfect world, why not take the time to learn from them. Theatre gives us the chance to view our world from a different perspective and open our minds to changing the way we go about things and the way we think. Not necessarily in a negative way but a positive way. I don’t think theatre is there to corrupt our minds and make us change who we are completely, but just help us expand on our outlook on life.
We go on in life looking at the world as we are and as we see it and get caught up into our on daily lives and think that we are in so much need that we tend to forget those that are in greater need right in front of us. We get so carried away that everyone in a while I have to even stop myself and ask God to help me see things through his perspective and not my own, otherwise majority of time we miss out on what’s important the most. In the bible, 1 Corinthians 9:22 it states, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.
I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some (NIV Bible). Theatre is there to become what we are in a since, to hopefully reach us at our own level to save us from becoming worse than we are today. Although theatre is not the only thing that shapes us, it is one of the many aspects of life that can help us mode us into who we are, what we do, and how we thing. After I believe God gave us all our individual gifts to become like others so that we are able to be a witness to them and share his message in a way that others will understand.