The Fourth Wall Revisited: Breaking past the Demons

I just couldn’t help dovetailing off of my erudite colleague Ryan Lucas’s most recent blog “Health inSite: Breaking the Fifth Wall.” You see, I am currently in a theater production – mid run. This is something I do every two years or so to keep me young and “in the game.” As always, the life lessons have been prodigious and applicable. These lessons can be applied to health, wellness, as well as organizational performance. Each night we have a huddle before the performance (big cast – 21 actors plus directors, choreographer, lighting engineers, and stage managers) to share a moment of teamwork and motivating words from one another. In this blog I will be sharing a version of what I will share in our next huddle.

In this play, the Fourth Wall definitely gets intentionally broken. If that didn’t work, the play would be a mere shell of itself. Okay, here you go: the play is “The Full Monty.” If you are not familiar with the story, it is about a group of unemployed steelworkers who come up with the idea of putting on a working man’s strip show to make some quick cash. Through the process, each one goes through some personal transformation of overcoming personal doubts and limitations. This is the Broadway musical version that was created after the movie. This is a play of tremendous heart and is about so much more than crudity and stripping (It is set in Buffalo with steel workers, so there is a bit of a hard edge).

Here is what I want to share:

As much as this has been an incredibly fun and positive experience, as happened with me, I have faced some personal demons in the process. I would guess most of us have; be it relationships, body image, skills and talents, or any of the stuff that gets in our way when we attempt to excel. So much of the play is about overcoming those demons. What it takes in order to accomplish this is the openness and support of those around us – our community. When the six of us (“Monty Men”) come out for the last big number, the rest of the cast is out in the audience and has become part of the audience (breaking the Fourth Wall). I cannot tell you the powerful and amazing feeling of getting ready to “bare it all” with this great crew out in the audience whooping, hollering, and heckling. Then they incite the audience to do the same – perhaps approaching the Fifth Wall Ryan alludes to in which people join together in support. The focus is on the six of us, but it’s about each and every one of us, and what it takes to overcome your doubts to reach pure joy and celebration. What I experience is that we are all in it together and that’s what makes it work. I overcame my, as well as my character’s, personal demons. What a gift!

Perhaps we do not completely get to the “Fifth Wall” Ryan alludes to in his blog. There is no designed sharing between audience members. However, we are all very present together in the dance and song  “Let It Go.” Breaking the barrier walls, we can construct with one another through openness and support, and create miracles of accomplishment. This is the same at work, in our families, and in any given situation. The characters in this play are almost as diverse as in any workplace. And yet, in the end when we “Let it Go” the show is a huge success and the world feels like a better place.

Let it Go,

Patrick Hiester, L.P.C.
VP of BizPsych

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