Don’t I Get Your Belief?

Core beliefs and ethics are crucial to actors – they have to interrogate these in order to gauge how far or near their character they are in playable terms. In some instances, they have to find a way to play core beliefs that are not remotely their own. As you are no doubt aware, you can’t play something you humanly don’t understand.

So what are beliefs?

here’s a simple answer:

  • a feeling of being sure that someone or something exists or that something is true

  • a feeling that something is good, right, or valuable

  • a feeling of trust in the worth or ability of someone

But that doesn’t really cover the complexity of ‘belief’ because beliefs are often things that compel behaviour, and it is here that it causes great good and great damage. You see we all have different ideas about what we believe, and certainly different ideas about what we should do in the name of those beliefs.

Among Americans, 81 percent say they have always believed in God, compared to just 37 percent in Great Britain, 25 percent in Japan and 13 percent in former East Germany.

There are some statistics for you to think on, beliefs vary, and they cause conflict when one set of people try to foist them on another. That’s why people have evolved ideas along the lines of utilitarianism. A lot of people believe in live and let live, and go about your business freely as long as you let other people go about theirs. Sadly, any cursory glance at current affairs tells you this is not true in practice, but we like to believe it is.

Here’s another set of statistics

What do you believe those mean? A set of laws don’t guarantee we believe in those laws – and nor should they in all instances (21 it seems is not an option). Can you ‘believe’ women in the UK can be criminalised for an abortion in 2016?

Beliefs are tricky things, and fertile ground for a dramatist. I favour opposition to beliefs because I have been taught to write dialectically  – in the hope that out of applying pressure to received wisdom we might find something beyond the ordinary reach of what we believe, in order to progress a little more down the line of being human. What matters in storytelling, I think, isn’t always what we believe, or the way things are. We can reach for the way things could be, and we can find ways to represent them to each other.

If you can believe in that, you can believe in my plays.

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