All the World’s a Stage

Why is the theatre a perfect metaphor for demonstrating the difference between P-B and Simple Reality? In P-B one is caught up in playing a role in an illusionary “drama.” The play only seems to be “real life.” The context for the story is created in the world of form, unsubstantial, rickety props on a slippery stage. The script provides a role or identity for each character which they express in reaction to the other characters on the stage. On this stage we have indecisive Hamlet, Medea seeking revenge, and a bewildered Oedipus caught up in self-destructive forces beyond their control behind every cardboard tree. This play, with most of humanity “hamming it up,” doing their best to upstage their fellow actors, is more than tragic. It is worse than irrational, it is utter madness.

To escape the tragedy unfolding on the stage of the global village we must enter the present moment, we must walk off the stage into the wings and become the observer of the P-B drama including our own identification with the body, emotions and mind of our false-self driven character. From the wings we are detached from the illusion happening on stage and gain sufficient distance from our character’s (our false self) identity, that we can begin to distinguish illusion from reality.

There is no question that the audience benefits from their role as observers. Since one false self has a lot in common with the other false selves on the stage, a character’s persona often hits close to home. “Melodrama does not prevail merely because it keeps us on the edge of our seats; by its use the fires that rage in our bosoms, the rats that gnaw at our brains, are brought on stage to be faced and, just possibly, faced down.”[i] 

What theatre critic Robert Hatch may be talking about is that whether we are watching a Greek tragedy or theatre of the absurd, “Oedipus at Colonus” or “Waiting for Godot,” we experience revealing insights and/or catharsis.

Why is it that one runs to one’s ruin?
Why has destruction such a fascination?
—  Oscar Wilde  

Oscar Wilde is an example of a character in his very own “Greek tragedy” whose persona hit close to home. He was a socially and economically advantaged genius but came hard up against reality when sentenced to two years of hard labor in a series of brutal English prisons for “gross indecency.” In the quote above, he puzzles over what leads humans, himself included, to have a ruinous “fascination with destruction.” In Simple Reality we know the answer—our false self.  

Wilde was able to remain conscious enough throughout his ordeal to learn what he called “humility.” His definition of humility was “the frank acceptance of all experience.”[iii]  In Simple Reality we call that “response.”  In order to survive in prison we see, in his own words, that Wilde made the distinction between reaction and response. We need to do that too in our own “Greek tragedy” called Life in Paradigm-B.  

The history of the theatre has had significant moments of transformation as have all of the arts. We can give credit to a couple of extraordinary artists who were responsible for that transformation. Frank Magill introduces us to Ben Johnson: “Although he regarded his dramatic work as merely one facet of his literary life, he was determined that the playwright should receive the esteemed title of ‘poet.’ In the Elizabethan era, plays were regarded as unimportant public amusements; satires, sonnets, and narrative verse were expected to carry the heavy freight of ideas and art. Johnson worked to establish drama as a legitimate literary form by showing that it could be a conscious art with rules of organization that were as valid as those of more esteemed literary genres.”[iv]   

As a youth of seven, Miguel de Cervantes witnessed a puppet show at a local fair. “Forever after, the theater was to him the truest reflection of nature—a symbol of life itself, wherein every man must choose his part and play it, giving meaning to his life through his dedication  to his role.”[v]  

The American playwright August Wilson understood the power of theatre to create awareness. Although Wilson wrote an extraordinary series of 10 plays about the African-American experience in the 20th century, he also knew the challenge was to create a sustainable American narrative that included all Americans. “Wilson returned to the Hill District [in 1963 to Pittsburgh where he was born] and began to meet other black writers. With fellow writer Rob Penney he formed the Black Horizon Theatre, hoping to raise consciousness through theatre.”[vi]  We have got to be united and come together before we can proceed on, into this 21st century.

Having done that, we can then from the objective position of the NOW, begin to write our own role, within our own script and thereby transform our behavior. We will then have become masters of our own fate, creating our own reality, because we will then realize that we were born into a tragedy not of our own making which bears little resemblance to the more profound reality of P-A. This authentic human “drama” is a story filled with joy and compassion; the glorious theatre, the friendly universe, wherein we all give Oscar-worthy, heartfelt performances.

Coming together is what Simple Reality is all about. Nowhere will that process find greater support than in the world of the theatre which has always and will continue to reflect back to us our current state of consciousness, our self-destructive behaviors and the peace and freedom that awaits us when we awaken. Break a leg my friend. We all await your performance.


All The World’s A Stage

[i]     Hatch, Robert. “Theatre.” Horizon, May 1963, page 106.   

[ii]     Ellmann, Richard. Oscar Wilde. New York: Knopf, 1988, page 562.   

[iii]    Ibid., page 514.  

[iv]    Magill, Frank N. [ed.]. Critical Survey of Drama. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Salem Press, 1985, page 1015.   

[v]     Busoni, Rafaello. The Man who was Don Quixote. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1958, page 55.    

[vi]    Inside/Out. “Gem of the Ocean.” Denver Center Theatre Company, September 2006, no page.   


For a more indepth discussion, see printed books by Roy Charles Henry.