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Can't Not Do: The Compelling Social Drive that Changes Our World by Paul Shoemaker

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Chapter 3Eleuthera Lisch, Stepping Out from Behind the Fourth WallAre You Willing to Go to Hard Places?

It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see.

—Winston Churchill

The “fourth wall” in theater is an imaginary wall that stands between the actors on stage and the audience. Actors pretend they can't see the audience and the audience gets to play the quiet voyeur. The actors entertain, but they don't interact. The audience gets to watch, but they can't influence. It's a weird dynamic, but it satisfies both parties. Stepping out from behind the wall breaks the detachment.

Eleuthera Lisch has been a professional actor since early childhood. She explained the concept of the fourth wall to me as “the blackness in which you are pretending this is real. So the audience is watching something and the actors are pretending that the audience isn't there. When you bust past that fourth wall, it is a raw human interaction.”

I know you might be thinking, since when is the theater a hard place? For Eleuthera, the theater itself wasn't the hard place. Taking her theater training into a detention center filled with violent criminals was. It was a way for her to give back through her talents. And, it was what set her on the path to some even harder places.

There is a form of therapy that encourages inmates to write monologues from the perspective of their victims. It is saying to them, “go to the place of empathy where you become the person you chose to ...

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