There’s a theater device consisting of an invisible “wall” between the performers and the audience. It’s called The Fourth Wall. Meaning, if the performers on a stage are in a room with three sides (which they are if the performance is in a theater) then the so-called "fourth wall" is this invisible wall that allows the audience to see them on the stage, acting something out. There are examples of plays and movies where this fourth wall is broken – think of TV shows like The Office when someone will break character and give the camera “a look”.
I had this happen recently at Second Thought Theater with my husband. We were seeing an adaptation of a fairly well known play called An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen. The play’s plot is relevant, current, a bit dark and this adaptation culminates in one of those mind-bending endings where someone sortof laughs and hollers “switch!” and everyone drops their scripts and with eager open hearts begins to study a new script for the same dang, dark play. As it ends, you see how each person will now have a new character to explore the next time around. And you begin to see how the plot just goes on and on… just like life and yet you also see how it’s also an effortless (and joyous) experience to flip the script and explore a new role, dropping previously held social constructs and adopting new ones - as an actor in the play and nothing more. As cool as the ending was, that’s not actually my point for writing about it. I had a very unique experience during the play itself.
My husband I were on the top row of the seating with a bird’s eye view of the stage that night. There was a town hall type scene with tons of cussing. After a doozy set of lines where the main actor cusses and cusses, he pauses, looks right up to ME up on the top row and says “Sorry, Mrs. Semrad” (referring to the cussing) and then kept right on going with lines in the play as if nothing happened.
As you can imagine, I looked at my husband and without saying a word, said with my eyes Wait, did that actually happen? Did you hear him call me out directly as he pierced the fourth wall? For real, did you hear that? The point is, it was a very distinct and personal experience and one that I have reflected on a number of times since then. Which brings me to reality’s Fourth Wall. Because there is one, I think. What does that mean?
Well, fast forward – I attended a children’s production of The Wizard of Oz the other night. The kids ranged in age – from late elementary to high school and they did an amazing job. Totally amazing. There were a few plot twists and one of the themes that bubbled up was one of Authorship (I’m writing my own story here and won’t get into that box I see you creating for me, thankyouverymuch) and also just having the BALLS to be yourself (no matter what, thankyouverymuch). Great themes for children to explore as they navigate adolescence and early adulthood. Theater is magic like that. Thank you God for theater!
Audah, Aujah and I attended as The Three Adepts of Magic – I mean, why wouldn’t we? And let me just say that we were full-on in our dress up game – in our white dresses and dressed to the nines. After the show was over, I really wanted to get our picture taken with Glinda, the Wizard and Dorothy. Our friend Angela was like “Oh you wanna a picture? I can make this happen for you.” And we knew she could. Her daughter was in the play. Alas and Sigh. In the end, I simply wussed out. I just couldn’t pierce the Fourth Wall like that because I guess I was scared that something about my reality might have snapped loose and obliterated itself. It just seemed like it would have been “too much” somehow. The Default World was a little too present tense – with parents and friends and literally like 10 people there that I know personally and who I know have no idea about this whole Aurah thing.
Because I mean, who does that? Who has the BALLS to show up dressed to the nines, in public, pierce the fourth wall and call herself AN ADEPT OF MAGIC? I mean, who the fuck does she think she is, Authoring her own experience like that?
Come on, y'all know that voice I'm talkin' about.
(Insert throat clearing noise here)
Well, quite simply and without much fanfare – that’s what I am. I am, in fact, an Adept of Magic. I don’t know what else to say about it. And it’s a weird feeling sometimes. And sometimes it can feel like Dorothy getting sucked up into that high-trauma tornado and landing in Oz, confused and in denial at being a witch-killer. And other times, it feels relaxed, present and open for the (beautiful) challenges and joys of life with whatever it brings me.
And perhaps that part of my attraction to the Oz mythology. I’m willing to align with it because it’s based in a series of philosophies that I’m interested in already. The origins of the Oz material in 1900 came from a man named L. Frank Baum and I make the case in my humble (and humbling!) thesis that Baum was influenced by an amazing monk named Swami Vivekananda and the perennial philosophy of the so-called 'east'. And for the record, The Wizard of Oz is the first book in a very long series of fourteen books. These books were essentially the Harry Potter series of their day and profoundly influenced generations of people for decades to come.
Aurah, Audah and Aujah come from the last book in the series called Glinda of Oz and with very little backstory or plot, the three of us simply adopted their names in a Vernal Equinox ceremony a few years ago. We also accepted the basic premise of their story – they mean only the highest good and derive their magic from nature. They have mysterious origins and because they appear briefly in the final book (Baum died before its publication in 1920), readers have no idea what happens to them… until now. The Three Adepts walked out of a children’s book and into this Default World as blank slates in the year 2016 and it’s officially an open and magical future! This is a personal mythology I’m willing to adopt, hell yeah!
And what of this Default World, y’all? I’m going to call it out into the open here, people are fucking mean these days. Have you consumed the news lately? Oh my Lord have mercy on us! Case in point: our president’s adolescent behavior has triggered our own adolescent insecurities; collectively, I think. It’s been a long time coming (for sure) and a perfect storm of his powerful platform to bully the masses along with a new normal of an online, social reality and coupled with the suppression of various groups by people like him – well, times are different and we find ourselves with grown ass people are acting like middle school punks on the playground - sometimes treating each other with astonishing cruelty. The more things change, the more things stay the same.
But back to the open and magical future part.... As an Adept of Magic, I inherently pierce the Fourth Wall in an ongoing way for myself. Who the fuck does she think she is? Well, I’m here to tell you I think an open and magical future is absolutely possible, I really do. Starting with right now. And now. And now. And now. And now…. It starts with me. And you. And then you. And you. And then you…. When we drop our scripts, apologize (and forgive! Yes, even Trump!) for all the bullshit we have done to ourselves and others and begin to open our hearts, anything is possible. (Right Audah and Aujah?) But here's the deal: it does require Action. Voting. Paying attention. Educating ourselves in an ongoing and response-able way. Isn't that common sense? I don't think this is new and profound information here. We still live on earth, people.
Furthermore, the next time I hit the town and attend a Wizard of Oz play? I’m gettin’ a picture, dang it! I will take a deep breath and bravely Pierce that Fourth Wall with my metaphysical knife.
All together now:
May all beings be happy and free.
May all beings be happy and free.
May all beings be happy and free.
May it begin with me.
With Clarity (thank you, Scarecrow!), Kindness (thank you, Tin Man!) and Courage (thank you, Lion!).
May it be so.
Periodic updates from Aurah in the Field.