Improv theater and the 4th precept

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
Post Reply
Domeniko
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2016 6:47 pm

Improv theater and the 4th precept

Post by Domeniko » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:27 am

Hello,

I recently started to meet with a group of people in order to some improv theater exercises. Some of these exercises require me to act as if I was someone else. For example, I have to say things like "Yesterday I met my friend Steve.", when in fact I don't have a friend named Steve. So I was wondering if I'm breaking the precept against lying when I'm doing these exercises, even though everyone involved is aware that I'm playing a role.



Thank you.

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 20823
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Improv theater and the 4th precept

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:31 am

Greetings,
Domeniko wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:27 am
So I was wondering if I'm breaking the precept against lying when I'm doing these exercises, even though everyone involved is aware that I'm playing a role.
Not breaking a precept per se, but dangerous in other ways...

Actors Go To Hell?

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

User avatar
budo
Posts: 1208
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 12:16 am
Location: The world

Re: Improv theater and the 4th precept

Post by budo » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:39 am

I used to do improv, it's great for killing social anxiety and literally one can be on stage in front of hundreds of people and be fine with it, but also taken too far it can develop a disconnect from reality.

The underlying psychology of improv is actually great, it builds co-operation with other people and has a meta level of "I'm ok, you're ok" rather than "I'm not ok, you're ok", or "I'm ok, you're not ok".

But if you're interested in the psychological benefits then just get right to the source, which is Transactional Analysis created by the psychotherapists Thomas Harris and Eric Berne. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27m_OK_ ... ou%27re_OK

Otherwise, I've seen people doing improv for many years go a little crazy and do things that would be considered embarrassing or cringey for the average person. It's good to not have anxiety, it's bad to use that new freedom for selfish means which results in a mild neurosis.

dharmacorps
Posts: 782
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:33 pm

Re: Improv theater and the 4th precept

Post by dharmacorps » Mon Apr 08, 2019 3:57 pm

It depends on your motivation and what the situation is I suppose. I don't necessarily think you are breaking a precept, but if you are trying to cultivate calmness of mind and concentration, this probably won't help with that. :anjali:

Domeniko
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2016 6:47 pm

Re: Improv theater and the 4th precept

Post by Domeniko » Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:45 am

Thank you for the replies.

Do you know any suttas where the Buddha elaborates on the fourth precept or specifies what exactly has to be done to break the precept?

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 4948
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Improv theater and the 4th precept

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Apr 09, 2019 11:34 am

Domeniko wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:45 am
Thank you for the replies.

Do you know any suttas where the Buddha elaborates on the fourth precept or specifies what exactly has to be done to break the precept?
Technically, the 4th precept is:

Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
(I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech.)

This - musavada - means "lying, false, or wrong speech", and the canonical accounts of what this means in practice are fairly close to what one would expect:
It’s when a certain person lies. They’re summoned to a council, an assembly, a family meeting, a guild, or to the royal court, and asked to bear witness: ‘Please, mister, say what you know.’ Not knowing, they say ‘I know.’ Knowing, they say ‘I don’t know.’ Not seeing, they say ‘I see.’ And seeing, they say ‘I don’t see.’ So they deliberately lie for the sake of themselves or another, or for some trivial worldly reason.
https://suttacentral.net/an10.176/en/sujato

Although that's what the word seems to mean, many Buddhists take the precept to include all forms of wrong speech:
"And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech."

dharmacorps
Posts: 782
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:33 pm

Re: Improv theater and the 4th precept

Post by dharmacorps » Tue Apr 09, 2019 7:15 pm

musavada has a few different translations and interpretations as you can see. At Abhayagiri, this is translated as "false and harmful" speech. I find this translation helpful, primarily because it keeps it simple. It means to me that if you are going to say something, that speech should be true, and at least have a chance of being helpful, otherwise it probably isn't worth saying. It does not mean that you have to in substance tell people everything, it also doesn't mean you should be passive. That said, the 4th precept is the hardest precept to follow-- it is a fluid and constantly challenging practice requiring lots of discernment.

sentinel
Posts: 1446
Joined: Sun Jun 04, 2017 1:26 pm

Re: Improv theater and the 4th precept

Post by sentinel » Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:11 pm

This is rather difficult to observe in many circumstances .
:buddha1:

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests