Time for Reflection

– in the Scottish Parliament on 5th December 2017.

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Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

Good afternoon. The first item of business is time for reflection. Our leader today is Fiona Stewart, creative director of Foolproof Creative Arts.

Fiona Stewart (Foolproof Creative Arts):

Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament, thank you for giving me the opportunity to address you this afternoon.

John F Kennedy said:

“We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.”

I am a performer, a writer and a director, but above all else I aim to be a truth-teller. Actors in training are often reminded that truth is in the body. The heart and soul of a good performance is about taking a piece of text or an idea and bringing it to life, making it believable to an audience.

As a performer, I strive to communicate as specifically as possible. As a writer, I try to create characters and situations that enable the audience to understand the deeper story running beneath the action. As a director, I want to help actors find ways of portraying character truthfully. The longer I do my job, the more I notice the disconnection that occurs when an actor plays a role untruthfully or glibly, and everything in me is shouting, “I don’t believe you!” Uta Hagen describes the process of performing truthfully thus:

“Thoughts and feelings are suspended in a vacuum unless they instigate and feed the selected actions, and it is the characters’ actions which reveal the character in the play.”

In other words, there is no point in feeling an emotion unless it is used to prompt the physical action of the performer. People understand who a character is by what they observe them doing.

In real life, the same is true. I may speak certain words, but you will read what I really think and believe by my posture, my gestures and my facial expressions, and you will draw your own conclusion as to where truth lies.

We are in the season of advent—a time of waiting. In John’s gospel, Jesus is described as Immanuel: God with us, the divine made real with human skin and bones, full of grace and truth. People understand who a character is by what they observe them doing. Incarnation—the coming of God in human form—reminds us that God’s character is revealed in his actions. In him we find truth and grace in equal measure, demonstrated in his life, his death and his resurrection. Truth is in the body.

This advent, may you find time to reflect on incarnation, and in so doing may you live, speak and act with grace and truth.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Before we move to the next item of business, I advise the chamber that the Presiding Officer has selected two urgent questions for answer today. The first one will be taken as the next item of business and the second will be taken following the Public Petitions Committee debate. As a consequence, decision time will be at 5:30 pm. A revised business programme has been issued to all members.