Breaking the Fourth Wall

If you are not familiar with the term “The Fourth Wall”, it is a not-so-common way of actors in theatre, movies and television to interact with the audience in a way that breaks character or makes the actor seem like he or she is talking to the audience directly.  The fourth wall in a studio set is the wall that doesn’t exist but where camera, director and/or the audience sits.

I recently have been binge watching the Netflix original series, “House of Cards”.  If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend spending a weekend and just watch all the episodes.  It is a political drama consisting of the various ends and outs of Washington, DC politics.  The main character, Congressman Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey), breaks character during the series and speaks directly to the audience.  He does so in such a way that doesn’t awkwardly make you feel like you are out of the action but in such a way that makes you feel part of the action.  Ferris Bueller, Austin Powers, Space Balls, and even Airplane! have examples of breaking the fourth wall however in all of these examples, humor has been the reason for breaking the fourth wall.  “House of Cards” does it in such a way that just makes sense and leaves the audience more engaged and not left out of the loop.

I’ve wondered as of late, how breaking the fourth wall would apply to how one would live their own life?  Making decisions in your life by talking to your fourth wall might be beneficial.  Just think, that one person watching what you are doing, observing your life outside of where you observe it, but then being able to talk to that person or group of people about what is on your mind?  The truth is, everyone has a fourth wall to talk to.  Your spouse, colleagues, friends, and even the almighty.  It is up to you to decide if you want to listen back and hear what your real life audience has to say or you can choose to ignore it and live within 3 walls.

I for one, need to continue breaking the fourth wall. In the words of the great Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  And, if you are still reading this, I wanted to say to you directly, “Thank you for being part of my fourth wall and I hope I get to talk to you and listen to you more in the future!”


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