Tuesday, November 8, 2016

No Drama!


In college, I was a theatre major. If you know me at all, this is the point in which you say, “That explains it.” Drama queen, overly dramatic, emotionally driven- these are all descriptions of the sort. Perhaps, these words even describe you.

In today’s popular culture, the phrase, “no drama” is prevalent. It is, in fact, many times the preference for how we say we would like to live. Yet, if this is the goal, why do we have so much drama, often self-inflicted, going on in our lives?

I’ll be the first one to admit I am a drama queen. And I’ll be the first to admit that, for the most part, my theatre degree has been as relevant to my daily current life as underwater basket weaving. As I’ve focused more on writing and a supposed direction in which I believe God is taking it, alas, my thespian days seem to be in the past. But, there have been some relevant lessons I have learned from my study as an actress. And yes, they can often translate to explain, and hopefully aid, the ailment known as “drama.” Won’t you bear with me while I try to explain myself?


First, you have to audition for the drama. That usually means you prepare a monologue of some sort. You fixate on a particular piece to win the audition. Back as a desperate theatre student, this occupied me immensely, already suffering from my perfectionistic mentality. I wondered which approach would be strongest: the funny goofball, extracting laughs, a sad tear-jerker of a piece, designed to promote sniffling and weeping. Or, should I do something of the mentally unstable, psychotic variety, creating uncomfortable squirms from those watching me? I’ve done all three, but, mostly, I gravitated toward a combination of the tear-jerking psychopath. Some audition examples include a suicide bomber, a bag lady and a jilted lover. Yeah. Long story short: I wanted people to cry and squirm. Ain’t I a sweet one?

The purpose? To get attention, I suppose. I could overanalyze the choice and factor in family dynamics, but attention-getting is really at the core of it. And isn’t attention a great magnet for drama?

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

Think about your own life and circumstances for a minute. You may have never been in any kind of stage play, but haven’t you done something, turned on some kind of tears or theatrics, all because you wanted some form of attention? Maybe you were the class clown, the love struck teenager or the needy child. Why did you and I do whatever dramatic, destructive and/or illegal activity each of us chose? It was to get attention.

So, wouldn’t it serve each one of us well to stop and examine that reality, asking ourselves, “Why am I doing this?” Wouldn’t it be helpful to look at it before we did that deed, instead of regretting and looking at the “after” wreckage? The after wreckage is so much more complicated, isn’t it? So, the audition portion of our drama is already complete.

Get the script:

Next, we’re on the script. Whether it’s an actual play or some other desirable thing we’re auditioning for, the script still exists. Indeed, the rehearsal of the drama, via the script, doesn’t always mean we “get” something, be in stage role, goal, or desired thing or person. Either way, we’re still in the process of looking at the story, whether it is a “happily ever after” or epic tragedy. We can generate drama by the giddy “twitterpated” (see the Disney film, “Bambi” for the animated definition of the word) display of new and/or eternal love or by the abject poverty, loss and grief of something painful in our lives. We choose. Yes, it’s that power of positive (or negative) thinking cliché. What do we do with a template of a predicament, the script? How will we respond to it?

Imagine and create a scenario:

And that often leads us into the wonderful world of our imagination, for better or worse. It’s necessary in the theatre context to tap into this aspect of drama. We need to use our imaginations to envision character traits and motivations; we, as actors, want to convince our audience that the play is real. After all, according to Shakespeare, “the play is the thing.” And that’s great for theatre. Where it goes awry, however, is when that intense, often imagined or exaggerated drama goes skipping amuck in our lives, making us feel out of control and panicky. This is largely due to the imagination games of “what if” we so often trump up to such power.

You’ve played the “what if” game many times, I’m sure. It’s the fear/dread/expectation of something, creating an anxiety-laden question, without following through and providing any answer to that question. And there lies the torment, a/k/a, the drama, in full living Technicolor.

“For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.”

Job 3:25

Buying into that drama in our lives is erecting its power over God and His Truth. Not a great choice there.

“Casting down arguments, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

2 Corinthians 10:5

Learn the lines:

And so, we begin to learn to say the things we fearing or do not want. Lovely. Why? It’s because we’re addicted to the drama of it, the larger than life nature of it. There has to be a reason we do it, right? The big payoff of fulfilling our self-defined drama, manipulating people, gaining sympathy or attention keeps us saying some incredibly horrible things, doesn’t it? But we really have no clue what we’re doing. There is tremendous power in our words. It works for both the positive and the negative.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

Proverbs 18:21

Yippee!!! So, what are we saying? The things we’re wanting, the things which are healthy and loving? Or, is it all about the self-destructive?

Let’s check out God’s approach…

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23

 Sounds anti-drama to me.

Back in college, my attack strategy was to learn my lines as thoroughly, perfectly and quickly as possible. Sometimes, I learned other actors’ lines as well. In all of my fear-driven paranoia, however, I mistakenly believed that if I was just prepared enough or perfect enough, there would be no mistakes or pain. Wrong! My perfectionistic need mandated complete control of life. Yeah, that’s realistic. And that perfectionism was creating and exacerbating the negativity. Drama recovery lesson one: I needed to get over myself and the answer of a perfect life; it wasn’t happening.

Rehearse the lines:

Nevertheless, repetition solidified my knowledge of the lines and the creation of the play’s scenes. It became second nature and the cues were easier to bounce off from when I had my lines down pat.

And, in life, we can get stuck in word ruts of our own, can’t we? We can easily find ourselves repeating words which don’t help us. Examples can include “Always,” “Never,” as in “I’ll always be alone and miserable” and “I’ll never achieve my goal.”


“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

Proverbs 18:21

The short-term gratification of spewing certain destructive words, even expletives, may feel wonderful and yes, quite dramatic as we believe we’re powerfully making our point, but what really does it accomplish which helps us?

“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”

Proverbs 15:1

“Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.”

Ecclesiastes 5:2

As with a lot of “guilty pleasures” in life, things, including our words, may feel great in the moment, but regret, pain and damage usually follow later. Now, you may say that you have no control over your temper. Wrong! You do. Again, I refer you to the following scripture:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23

We have self-control. Do we always enjoy using it? No, of course not, but we do have it, all the same. How much are we exercising it in our lives? Self-destructive drama would rather we didn’t; drama wants to run the show with no filter on censor. It wants to express!

And whether you wish to call it drama or ego, it still is true that when it calls the shots in our lives, chaos and destruction inevitably occur. It’s all about which wolf you feed the most; it is what we repeatedly do.

Rehash performances:

And that brings me to the next point: the performances. When I was cast in certain play productions, of course, after the audition, the script, the learning and the rehearsal of lines, sooner or later, there were the actual performances. Lights, camera, action! Or, if not that spectacular of a reality, then, perhaps it was more like lather, rinse, repeat.

There were many “off” nights. Lines were flubbed, people tripped and pregnant pauses you could drop kick a cannonball through. But, the showbiz expression, “the show must go on” still holds true. You get through it, try to recover and convince the audience things are great, even if your mustache or wig is falling off. You just deal. And that’s quite a challenge for us drama queens. It’s all or nothing, according to our larger than life mentalities. “Off” nights make us feel life is meaningless, horrible and over. Calm down, it’s not. It’s just life.

What about the great nights? Yes, they’re there too. The challenge with these nights is when we believe they’ll last forever. They won’t and they don’t Sorry to burst the bubble. But again, that’s life (I hear Frank Sinatra).

And life is repetitious, joyous, wonderful, tedious, brilliant, embarrassing, heartbreaking and imperfect. Wherever we are in it, then, we need to gauge how much drama is ostentatiously galloping through our circumstances. Life can be dull at times; I don’t want to squelch sparkle. But, cliché alert: it’s about balance! Ta-dah! Feel wonderful yet, or are you groaning? I know, balance, moderation, self-control are not the fun party words. They certainly aren’t dramatic. But they’re there as a help to keep us from completely going off the rails.

“Let all things be done decently and in order.”

1 Corinthians 14:40

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…”

1 Corinthians 14:43

And we kind of need that.

Outgrow performance:

And, finally, after the performance stage, there comes the outgrowing of the performance stage. I mention this because, all too often, we can get stuck in a moment in time. You, again, may have never been in any kind of stage play, but, more than likely, there was some kind of “glory days” experience in your life. To quote, the Boss, Bruce Springsteen, “glory days- they’ll pass you by, glory days- in the wink of a young girl’s eye.” You get the idea. Ideally, these memories are supposed to spring fond thoughts to our minds; we’re not supposed to live there forever.

When I was a junior in college, I was cast as the character, “Bananas” in John Guare’s play, “The House of Blue Leaves.” It was a great role; I got to play a crazy housewife who barks. Yes, barks.

Anyway, there was the two months of rehearsal, followed by the two weeks’ worth of performances. And, in the time and the space of the play’s performances, it was perfectly normal for me to act like her, to say my crazy lines and to bark. However, if years later, I were to do that now, well, I’d get a few more eyebrows raised and phone calls made about my behavior. There is a time and a place for everything. Again, to quote scripture…

 “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Bishop T.D. Jakes had a wonderful message, years ago, in which he spoke of “enjoying the beauty of the season you’re in.” And it’s not conducive to do that if the drama queen in us believes only “way back when” was appropriately dramatic, beautiful and wonderful.

Is that you? Are you bemoaning your present day existence? Do you see nothing of value there? Do you feel you need to have a much more exciting life than you’re currently experiencing? To those questions, I, again, refer to scripture…

…I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”

Psalm 139:14

“…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 1:6

Feeling jumpy and uncertain about how things are going? Feeling the drama queen restlessly spinning in your mind? Calm down. Breathe. And hey, here’s another choice: trust God…

 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Our dramatic ways will not and cannot improve upon God’s ways of handling our lives. Absorb that thought for a second. Are you trying to play God through your creation/maintenance of your own drama? How’s that going? Is drama your God? It’s not a comfortable question, is it? But it’s a question each one of us, myself included, need to answer.

And, if you come up with an answer you don’t like, opt out of the automatic dramatic response, filled with anxiety and despair. And try on God’s reality:

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”

Jeremiah 32:27

You, your life and circumstances are never, repeat, never, too difficult for God…even if/when your drama queen flares up.

Calm down, breathe, trust God and entertain the blessings which can, indeed, come from a life containing the phrase “no drama.”

It is possible!

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse







No comments:

Post a Comment