Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wishes and Beliefs

You Don't Get What You Wish For In Life, You Get What You Believe.

- Anthony Meindl

If you truly believe you can and do deserve to have the things you want in your life, then, and only then, do they become possible.

And between curtain up and curtain down, or between action and cut, this holds for our characters as well. Hamlet does not believe he can and should remove his uncle from the thrown, violently if needed, and take his rightful place. In the last scene he only takes action after he is poisoned and knows he will not survive. And his delay in changing his beliefs is part of why he dies, both thematically and logistically. He pays for his unhelpful beliefs and his speeches suggest he knows this. He knows his beliefs are not helping anyone (except maybe his uncle Claudius) but he does not find a away to change his beliefs despite being aware of them. His failure to change his beliefs means he does not save himself, his family or his country which is being invaded.

Belief is powerful, always has been always will be. This is drifting a little from the thrust of this post, but in many parts of life, people who believe what you believe may be part of your Coalition of the Eager. Whereas people who only know what you know may not be.

Please allow me a another late night digression. Nowhere does this idea of belief become in bolder relief than in the most recent presidential election cycle. People on both sides seemed to think that if the people on the other side knew what they knew, then everyone would agree on everything. Many devolved into political bigotry by continuing to believe that knowledge was at issue, when in fact it was belief.

So too the character that tries convincing another character of anything by making a logical argument. Our characters often make the same mistake of thinking knowledge and not belief is at issue. They often hold specific political points of view. Some of our work relies on the depiction of this to function, like Brecht. But as a tool for getting into what a character believes about themselves and everyone else, it can be useful to figure out what their politics are. Not sure a political back-story or inner life is essential for every role, but it might come in handy at some points.

For example: my character tries to help the other character because my character doesn't believe people can take care of themselves and do the right thing all by themselves. Or: my character doesn't help the other character because my character thinks that people are basically good, and self-sufficient and figures the other character will be better off on their own. Beliefs about the world like those often feed different political views, but they also may help account for what is motivating a character.

More than as a character tool, what we believe as people colors our world so deeply we may not even notice how. The first step may be realizing there is a problem. This is a longer topic than I am going to delve into much here right now. I will say this: it is very worth understanding what you (or I) may believe that is keeping us from doing what we need to do to live the lives we want to live.

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this posted by David August at 2:39 AM 

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