A lesson in theatre
So I’m taking this theatre class. And yes, apparently it is theatre…not theater. I spent the first week just learning how to spell it. Now I get to spend the next 15 weeks learning about what it means.
It’s been pretty interesting so far, I guess. We’re just going over the basics for now. Yesterday in class my professor said, “A good play takes us through a journey. There’s always going to be conflict, that’s what makes it interesting. We want to see the character change.”
I quickly scribbled that at the top of my notebook page so I could remember to think about that idea some more later. Time has passed, it’s now later, and I’ve done some thinking, so here’s what I came up with:
The statement I wrote at the top of my page is very true. If the main character never had a decision to make or a relationship to fix or a planet to save, there’d really be no point in telling the story. It would be incredibly boring.
I think this is something that gets talked about in most middle and high school English classes. We’ve all learned about how to tell a story: you start with the background information, the character faces conflict, there’s the rising action until it gets super intense and you wonder if everything’s going to fall apart, then things start getting resolved and the story ends.
No matter what story, there’s always some kind of conflict.
For as many times as I’ve been taught that, however, I don’t think I’ve heard the “we want to see the character change” part. Or maybe I’ve just never heard it explicitly stated like that.
We want the workaholic dad to take a break to spend time with his kids who just want to see him. We want the big city living girl to ditch her heels and fall in love with the sweet country boy. We want the bad guy to have a nicer heart, or maybe we just want him to die altogether. Either way, we always want the characters to change.
And in order for that to happen, there’s got to be conflict. There’s going to be a fight between the dad and his kids before he realizes what he’s been doing. The guy and girl need to argue and maybe even split up before they realize they really do want to be together. Sometimes the bad guy just needs to be punched a bunch of times. But you can’t have change without some kind of pain or hardship.
It’s like growing pains. I remember my knees hurting so bad in middle school when my legs were getting all stretched out and I was growing inch by inch. There are physical pains that come with growth. But now I’m like 5’5” and I can reach the top cupboards without climbing on the counters, so the pain was worth it.
There were times when I was growing as a leader too, like bumping up to varsity basketball in high school, or now as I’m an upperclassman on my college track team. That’s not comfortable either. There’s a lot of self-doubt and I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way, but I know I’m changing in the process and becoming stronger.
As I was thinking about this whole idea, I thought of Romans 8. It’s all about God’s plans and our futures and how we might be facing some conflict right now, but He’s going to use it for His glory. He’s going to change us and shape us into stronger, braver, bolder people.
They always say life isn’t like the movies, but maybe it kind of is. I mean, movies are often more organized and things seem to work out a lot better and a lot more quickly, but those characters only have a couple hours to change. We’ve got our whole lives.
Just as conflict is necessary to the plot of the movie and it moves things along to reach the happy ending, the pain and struggles in our own lives are necessary to help us to grow and continue along this journey that is our God-given purposes. Our happy ending might not be saving the planet or getting the girl, but we are trying to grow and become more of who God want us to be. And it’s all for His future glory, which I would say is much more exciting.