Thursday, 26 March 2015

Lose yourself

My daughter found something out about herself this week. After taking a narrator role in her school play, she discovered she rather enjoyed being in the limelight. Quite a departure for my shy girl who generally feels more comfortable observing life from the sidelines. Standing on the spotlit stage, she delivered her lines with aplomb and basked in the audience's attention like it was warm sunshine. For a few hours, she was free from the self-conscious strictures of pre-teenhood.

Two girls reading books on play equipment
Lost in a good book
The transformation came about because she was able to borrow the persona of another character and suppress her usual inhibitions. Wearing another personality for a few hours also meant she no longer had to worry about how other people might judge her. Like any spell in the sunshine, the after-effects have lingered, giving her a rosy glow of confidence. 

We are together


Drama, art, music and stories offer all of us an opportunity to escape some elements of our personality and winkle out qualities we didn't know we had. I can often walk out of a cinema feeling all ballsy, just because some feisty film heroine managed to set the world to rights. Novels too can inspire and take us into realms we would never have ventured into alone. 

Such feelings of empathy grow out of the powerful communion between writer and reader, actor and audience, artist and observer. When we interact through the medium of art, we share experiences and learn new things about ourselves, whichever side we are on. The thriller writer Stephen King describes this relationship with his readers as an act of telepathy. "We're not even in the same year together, let along the same room ... except we are together. We're close. We're having a meeting of minds."

My daughter shared her thespian adventure with the playwright, the children she acted alongside, the drama teacher who directed them and an indulgent audience. It may only have been a  school production, but it was still a magical meeting of minds.



FURTHER READING

On Writing by Stephen King
A memoir of Stephen King's craft as well as an inspiring and entertaining handbook for other would-be writers.