The Embrace of the Text

Doing the “grunt work” of acting often involves spending lots of quality alone with your script, huddled in a back corner of the living room or coffee shop, exorcising whatever ghosts of insight you can from the poor pages of your binder. Such a rigorous, and often tedious, task can seem pointless or trite after a while. Isn’t the point of theatre the creative act of invention or imagination? Shouldn’t the words be the trampoline off of which your own ideas spring? Why give the text the lion’s share of your initial attention? What are words, when actions really drive the story?

As an actor, you must make language your lover. you must become intimate with your words, and feed on them for life itself. Now, that may sound like a very un-Christian, very pagan, sensual proposition, but let us not forget the first chapter of the Gospel of John: “The Word became FLESH and dwelt among us” (emphasis mine). That is sexy. That is deep. That is intimate. That is personal.

You know, of the five senses, only sound is interior. it gets into us, entering our person, and bounces around all our cavities and declivities. That’s why words can resonate with our very souls. Words enter our hollow places and make them full. Words send shock waves through our beings, penetrating places we cannot see and light itself cannot reach. It boldly goes where no man has gone before. We are entranced by language, lured and mesmerized by its beauty and complexity, drawn to those who can speak the language of our souls.

I think the most beautiful part of the Bible is in Revelation, where we receive our new names, our true names, on a white stone. Then the sound of the word of our name not only evokes, calls out, our new nature (our true nature) and declares us into existence, but also is our voice. We can fully speak and fully hear. And nothing is lost in translation.

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