Transcendent faith only works when we willingly suspend our disbelief.
That is why God invented a lot of things, but I’m on a Maurice Sendak roll, so today I am celebrating charcoal pencils, watercolors and the printed book industry.
The suspension of disbelief is a theater term. According to my father, who is King of all that is Drama, entertainment should be the obvious goal of a show. Not all directors or actors agree with him, but they should. He is King.
A good show suspends our disbelief that, whatever. That our bills will get paid, our kids will ever grow up, that our nation will thrive despite ourselves. If a show is done right, even the intermission is a buzz of non-rememberance that the snow piling up outside the box office door is anything but that: just snow. But inside, a real or fanatical story is put to stage by real people, and hopefully, the audience is engaged in most anything but their worries and doubts. For a few minutes anyway. It is a few hours of possibility.
Maybe an interesting lesson is taught in the meantime, or a cool story is told – but for me, the gift of that time in the dark for the audience is that we are forcefully faithful. Why else pay the ticket price if you aren’t going to try to believe in something? For a while anyway.
Okay, I guess this post actually is about theater, and that’s okay. Maybe some other day I will draw out (pun intended) why I put the work of Sendak in my same personal category file of favorites which includes Samuel Beckett, Alvin Ailey and Juliet Child.
Instead I’m going to hunt up a photo of my second favorite actor, who I can only guess agrees with my sermon of the day. Here he is suspending your disbelief, if you care to have it gone for a short time:
And here is a quote to keep it real:
“The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh. Let us not then speak ill of our generation, it is not any unhappier than its predecessors. Let us not speak well of it either. Let us not speak of it at all. It is true the population has increased.”
– Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot