Sunday, March 30, 2008

One Person, Multiple Personae, in Action

Several readers found the concept of multiple characters within ourselves illuminating. Today's Raleigh newspaper, the News and Observer, gives an example of this paradigm in action: lawyers by day, actors by night. Upon reflection, it's hard to imagine someone better prepared to play the role of Iago (in Othello), than a trial lawyer. That's just what Raleigh attorney Seth Blum does, "It's an extremely lawyerly role as Iago is constantly given new information that on its face is bad, but he has to turn it into something good" (1-D).

It turns out that Harvard, Duke, Stanford, and other law schools have their own drama societies. Furthermore, actors Fred Thompson, Ben Stein, Ruben Blades, John Cleese (among others) all earned law degrees, but never practiced. The article's author, Orla Swift, interviewed several area attorneys who perform drama in courtrooms by day, in theatres by night.

The theatre provides a creative outlet that allows these lawyers to express themselves in different ways to different audiences. Mr. Blum further explains that both jobs involve capturing a universal truth and expressing it so that it resonates inside the heart of the audience. "If you're arguing to a jury, then the job of the lawyer is to make it resonate in the heart. If you're arguing to a judge, usually it's to make it resonate intellectually. But you've got to know your audience" (4-D).

What interests Mixonian, of course, is how the theatre provides form for vital creative expression. Most jobs and careers today, the ones that pay salaries, are far too narrow in scope to provide total personal fulfillment. That's why Sally works in HR by day, quilts by night. Carrie explains software by day, paints (canvasses and faces) on the week-ends. Dawn teaches science at her "real" job; paints furniture on the week-ends.

While the synergistic connection between professional work and creative expression may not be obvious, the two ways of work interact to make a more completely prepared and happy person.