Approx a 3 minute read with a video at the end…and you won’t regret it!
My 20-year high school reunion is this year.
It seems crazy to me that 20 years ago, I was a skinny theatre kid taking naps backstage between my scenes, and falling in love with my high school crush. This reunion has me thinking about high school, and based on my time working with young people in performing arts schools and conservatories, it seems not much has changed. All the groups are still there—jocks, nerds, theatre kids—everyone is still divided up into nice little groups.
Careful where you sit in the cafeteria, right?
Well, after 20 years, it’s clear to me that we still like to divide people into groups.
Conservatives/liberals, gay/straight, black/white, worthy/unworthy…you get the idea. It’s the grown-up’s version of the high school cafeteria, and it dehumanizes people.
It dehumanizes characters too.
Too often, I hear actors refer to their characters like this: “she’s just a dumb blonde”, “he’s just a stupid jock”, “he’s just a backwards republican”.
The same judgment that separates us from people will separate us from character.
Newsflash, no one is “just” anything, and neither is your character.
Every character, like every person, has a personal narrative that shapes their perspective and frames their mindset. When we understand their story, we see things from their perspective, and gain an insight into their mindset.
This is what shapes their behavior.
So, how to you overcome judgment of a character? You pursue a deeper understanding of their story. You have to sit at their table in the cafeteria and get to know them.
Don’t wait for a 20 year reunion--do it now!
Take a look at this video and you’ll see what I mean.
**For more info on how to use story to transcend judgment, check out our viral blog, “How to Listen When You Disagree”