An Audience of One

As an actress in both community and professional theatre, one of my most thrilling experiences has been the monolouge. The lights go down, the spotlight comes up, and it’s just you and the audience. If done effectively, your world melts away and you’re all alone, standing on the edge of the line where your character and you combine, bathed in the bright glow of a light that creates the fourth wall and blocks out everything but your character’s thoughts and emotions. You think as that person. You respond as they would. You become that character. You tell their story. The monologue is pure exhileration.

But all monologues come to an end, the curtains close on the final scene, the finale music swells and dies, and the audience brings down the house in applause. You greet friends and family that have come to see the show, you give sweaty hugs, and you thank the crew for their hard work. The director gives notes on the performance and you change into your street clothes. The thick stage make up comes off (rather difficultly, I may add), the hair comes down, and the smiles finally abate. You turn the lights out on the dressing rooms, pack up your bags, and head home, hoping for the adrenaline to wear off so that you can get some sleep for work in the morning. But even though the play is over, the thrill of the monologue still lives in the heart of the actor.

Acting demands excellence; to be a successful actor, you have to effectively communicate thoughts and emotions to an audience. The audience must not only watch events as they take place, they must understand why characters respond to events as they do and feel emotional connections to the actors. The actor must do whatever is necessary to please the audience, to create that connection with them, and to give them an enjoyable experience at the theatre. Yes, actors act because they enjoy the thrill of the stage, but also because they want to give people a vacation from reality. We act for the benefit and enrichment of the audience.

Turning this around to introspection, I live for an audience. In everything I do, in everything I say, I am seeking to please my audience–my audience of One. As much of my heart that I pour into a character on the stage, I need to pour into a life worthy of my audience. I’m a Christian. God is my audience of One. I don’t believe that a Christian life should contradict itself, rather that Sunday’s words and actions should be synonymous with Friday’s. I believe that when people see me, they should see Christianity, not my opinions, my justifications, or my attitudes. True faith does not contradict its words by its conduct. My performance should not change based upon my audience, it should be consistent.

Just as good acting is consistency of performance, good Christianity is consistency of living. Defined as “agreement, harmony, or compatibility, especially correspondence among the parts of a complex thing,” consistency stands in direct opposition to the complex nature of life, yet it enriches the life that has mastered its complexities. Life gets complicated; consistent performance for the audience of One creates security.

Living for an audience of One is a thrilling and fulfilled life. It’s the best life you can imagine.

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