On ‘the fourth wall’

My friends in the entertainment industry may be familiar with the term “the fourth wall”.

The fourth wall describes the “wall’” at the front of the stage in a standard box or three-wall theater.

This concept first made an appearance in 19th century theater and became popular alongside theatrical realism which brought more truth to stage productions.

In theatrical terms, breaking the fourth wall means speaking directly to the audience; nullifying the disbelief and boundaries between audience and actor.

Television and film have become a prime stage for breaking the fourth wall. In Marx brothers films, Groucho routinely broke from dialogue to address the audience and cartoons like Bugs Bunny are ripe with character/audience connections.

I was thinking about this concept the other day and realized how closely it mirrors the walls we build around ourselves.

What barrier is at the front of your stage that prevents you from making a solid connection with the people in your life?

Fear? Shame? Apathy?

For me, the interesting part is that in my professional life my fourth wall is fairly non-existent. In my personal life, my fourth wall is built from layers of fear and shame.

Older and wiser now, I don’t look to external sources for validation as much as I did when I was younger. I don’t have any deep dark secrets about nefarious deeds in Vegas. I was never popular in school, labeled as weird and not cool by my peers. I have no real reason to be afraid of being more open and honest with the people in my life and I don’t know where the confidence issues came from.

My goal is to break my fourth wall to make deeper connections with people and trust that they aren’t simply tolerating my presence.

What is your fourth wall? How are you going to break it?

  1. No comments yet.

  1. No trackbacks yet.