Monday, November 25, 2013

Freedom, health, and the theater of life that inspires an artist's vision

As you will see as you read this blog, while I work in the theater, my blogs may not be exclusively devoted to that subject. After all, Shakespeare said, "All the world's a stage." At the moment, in many countries in the western world, we are being confronted with decisions that affect our lives being made by men and women whose sickness leads them to believe that what we need is more government. They do not believe that people are capable of being free, and responsible for their lives. And, millions of people vote for them, and support them.

In the United States, the Affordable Health Care law is an example of this. It is the result of a problem that has existed for years. Many Americans could not afford Health Care, as it was run by Insurance companies whose goal was not to provide Health Care, but to make a profit. Under the name of making a profit, they refused Health Care to many people, and refused to pay for procedures that were necessary because they were too expensive. Their behavior forced people to fight with them, or resign themselves to not being able to be healthy. This is, to me, a conscious choice by the corporation to commit murder, which they justify to themselves by claiming that they have a right to make a profit. I feel that every American should have health care. I believe it is part of the social contract in a country as rich as the United States. The first defense of a society is a healthy, educated citizen. It is not a new concept, or even solely a Socialist concept. It exists in tribal society, much older than Socialism, where the medicine man treats one and all. It is a normal, healthy desire to take care of any sickness in the society.

But, and this is a big but- the solution to the problem isn't more government intervention, and more limitation of freedom. It is true that the law has come into being, like many laws, because something is wrong. But, rather than fix it, which the Government could do by taking Insurance companies to court, or Congress being willing to regulate the Insurance companies, we make a new law that gives the Government more power to run our lives. The government should have taken the companies to court, as you would any criminal. That is what Government is for: To keep us honest. It is not for the Government to run our lives. I wish the arguing between politicians was rational,  based on what the real problem is. But, it gets lost, or is unseen, by men and women who only have a political agenda. This isn't a problem of left or right, but what is the best way to have a healthy society.

I think that this problem, of Governments believing that the solution to problems is limiting our freedom, because we aren't capable of being free, is the same in Europe, where the Central European Government is regulating people's lives by ordering them to do things like destroy Olive trees in one country, trees that have existed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, because some bureaucrat thinks that is the best way to establish fair trade. It is astounding to me that people are not screaming out against this, what is clearly, fascist behavior on the part of the bureaucracy. It is senseless, and life-killing.

Once we give up our freedom, it will be very hard to get it back. It will be against the law! It will be against the law for someone in the United States not to have insurance if they don't want it. It will against the law for someone in Italy to grow olives. It will be against the law for a fisherman to fish, when the problem isn't the small fisherman, but the large boats that over fish the world, and destroy the ecology of the Oceans of the world.

It may seem strange to you, but I think that this does relate to theater. Because theater, when it is practiced as art, reveals life, and human behavior, to ourselves. "to hold as 'twere, the mirror up to nature". The Greeks, Shakespeare, Chekhov, all of the great writers reveal us to ourselves. They are inspired by what they perceive of the world they are living in. People who believe that life is machine-like, break life down into small areas of expertise, and believe that people only know about a small part of the world. They cannot see the big picture. This is not what we learn from great artists. Or, great men and women. Art begins with life, not with a technique, but with their passion for life, to live and see what life is, how people behave. Then, their art, their technique, develops, so that they can express, with simple, profound, truth, what they perceive. Writer's in writing, actors in the characters that they create, directors in their vision of a world. This is what I have learned from the great artists who come before me.

There are members of the profession who do not believe that acting is an art form. Most of them happen to be directors. They say that the actor only interprets what the writer writes. Anyone who has ever seen more than one production of a play, or more than one Hamlet, knows this isn't true. Actors are creative, in their visions, in their capacity to express themselves in a form. Theater, and I include film and television, occasionally is more than simple entertainment. Though rare, the art of theater, and acting in particular, does exist. Because, good actors, like all artists, have something to say about life.

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