Lying in the service of truth

Theater has been described as “lying in the service of the truth.” The fiction of the play is designed to reveal the deeper truths of our lives. There’s a delicious irony in play: the fiction of the play promises a deeper insight into human truth than everyday behavior can provide. And why? Because we spend so much of our lives hiding our truths. Part of the social contract we make with one another is to play our roles, to respect the conventions of any given social situation, to cooperate with the script. We are our “family selves,” our “work selves,” our just-among-friends selves,” our “all alone selves” and, increasingly, our “multiple online selves.” Are we lying? No, we’re human. We are a multiplicity of selves. Like the actor on stage, we construct personae that are me/not-me in any given situation. In any given situation we live simultaneously in a public/private self. The dynamic tension of these various selves can provide a creative space in which we can re-invent who we are: the self we create in one space—virtual or real—might provide a way to try on an aspiration self, or play the role who we’d like to be or become.

Martha Lavey (1957-?)