The “Suspension of Disbelief” is a vital notion in any live stage performance.  We know we are sitting in a comfortable theatre in Washington, D.C. watching actors — and not in a gloomy, dark, forest in Germany watching murderers in the night — and we willingly suspend reality in favor of disbelieving what our eyes and minds are telling us is not real.

If we are unwilling to imagine — or to Suspend our Disbelief — we are not honoring the sacred covenant between watcher and live performer.

Our demand to force reality into artifice will irretrievably shatter any live performance:  We don’t go along with the notion; the plot will never propel us forward.

That’s why shattering the fourth wall is such a vile contraption — it is ill-conceived in every reality and invented enterprise — because you cannot suspend disbelief when you have an actor actively smashing the invisible wall that protects, and defends, your disbelief.

Any live performance must always have the Suspension of Disbelief integrated into the DNA of any seed that inspires the hope for filling an empty space.

It is our moral duty and our cohesive quest to bring together vast and various minds — some of them unwilling or unable to disbelieve — and needfully show them the way of the why, and then give them a reason to suspend reality in favor of something grander and something more humanly communal than their less important and selfish want to remain stoically alone and factual in their brittle facade of a life.

10 Comments

  1. I watched a production of Frankenstein in which, for the first hour, I simply couldn’t do it. The production was just so minimal that my brain couldn’t fill in all of the blanks they left — the maid opening an invisible window, for example. I think I would have had a better time now, however. A little maturity has done wonders for me. 🙂

  2. Minimal and bored have nothing to do with Suspension of Disbelief, Gordon. You should never be bored in a theatre. If you are, then there is likely something wrong with the production. The Suspension of Disbelief is more that you accept there is a living monster before you named Frankenstein and that you understand he is afraid of fire, and he was created by a mad scientist, and so on…

  3. Suspension of Disbelief is that you agree to go along with something that cannot be real or true on stage in the real time of your current life.
    You’re right that comedians and singers often break the fourth wall. I always prefer singers like Waylon Jennings who pretend there is no audience and respect the fourth wall. They come on stage and sing songs and leave. There’s no idle banter or joking around or encouraging the audience to sing along.