The God Shaped Hole
“When it gets down to it, there’s only ever really one person in the audience, no matter how big the crowd.” – Bono
Bono, one of the world’s most iconic performers, describes his relationship to the audience, and perhaps the audience representing our first audience, our families.
Sometimes, the need for an audience goes back to an early relationship that was wounded, or didn’t exist at all.
How many performers of our time lost a parent to death or divorce or never knew one at all? From John Lennon to Johnny Depp to Ryan Gosling to Bono himself, the audience can fill a void left by childhood loss.
The 17th Century philospher, Blaise Pascal, called this “the God shaped hole.” Each and every one of us has one.
Perhaps for the performer, it is the space that needs to be filled by an audience. However, when a performer focuses too much on adulation, does it really fill this spiritual hole? We see actors, singers and performers of all kinds turn to substances, money, sex, fame, and a variety of other addictions to fill the God shaped hole. From Whitney Houston to Heath Ledger, we witness these tragic outcomes too often.
The life of a performer has tremendous potential highs, but often many more rejections and failures.
In my work with a variety of performers, I’ve noticed that the ones that look to their spiritual lives to fill this hole, not to substances or other people, are the ones that stay the most grounded. Then it matters far less if you’re on a stage in front of 50,000 or 15, whether you get the part or just do your best at the audition.
The next Inner Stage™ Workshop, Facing a Challenging Role™, is on Monday, May 21st from 6-9pm at Ripley-Grier Studios in midtown Manhattan. Come with a role in mind, past or present, that really played you emotionally. We’ll find out why.
© 2012 Valerie Simon, LCSW, CP