Canons prohibiting laity or clergy from acting on stage?

Discuss the Canons of the Orthodox Church and the Anathemas, especially those against various heresies that have arisen since the beginning of Christ's Holy Orthodox Church. All Forum Rules Apply. No Polemics. No heated discussions. No name-calling.

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Incognito1583
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Canons prohibiting laity or clergy from acting on stage?

Postby Incognito1583 » Sat 26 July 2008 7:23 am

Are there any canons or Church prohibitions against laymen acting in movies?

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Maria
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Re: Canons prohibiting laity or clergy from acting on stage

Postby Maria » Sat 14 February 2015 12:56 am

Incognito1583 wrote:Are there any canons or Church prohibitions against laymen acting in movies?


This is a valid question. Does anyone have an answer?
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

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Re: Canons prohibiting laity or clergy from acting on stage

Postby Cyprian » Sat 7 March 2015 6:39 pm

THE 85 CANONS
OF THE
HOLY AND RENOWNED APOSTLES

CANON XVIII

No one who has taken a widow, or a divorced woman, or a harlot, or a house maid, or any actress as his wife, may be a Bishop, or a Presbyter, or a Deacon, or hold any other position at all in the Sacerdotal List.

(Cf. cc. II, XXVI of the 6th; and c. XXVII of Basil).


ST. HIPPOLYTUS OF ROME

THE APOSTOLIC TRADITION

16. They will inquire concerning the works and occupations of those are who are brought forward for instruction. If someone is a pimp who supports prostitutes, he shall cease or shall be rejected. If someone is a sculptor or a painter, let them be taught not to make idols. Either let them cease or let them be rejected. If someone is an actor or does shows in the theater, either he shall cease or he shall be rejected. If someone teaches children (worldly knowledge), it is good that he cease. But if he has no (other) trade, let him be permitted. A charioteer, likewise, or one who takes part in the games, or one who goes to the games, he shall cease or he shall be rejected. If someone is a gladiator, or one who teaches those among the gladiators how to fight, or a hunter who is in the wild beast shows in the arena, or a public official who is concerned with gladiator shows, either he shall cease, or he shall be rejected. If someone is a priest of idols, or an attendant of idols, he shall cease or he shall be rejected. A military man in authority must not execute men. If he is ordered, he must not carry it out. Nor must he take military oath. If he refuses, he shall be rejected. If someone is a military governor, or the ruler of a city who wears the purple, he shall cease or he shall be rejected. The catechumen or faithful who wants to become a soldier is to be rejected, for he has despised God. The prostitute, the wanton man, the one who castrates himself, or one who does that which may not be mentioned, are to be rejected, for they are impure. A magus shall not even be brought forward for consideration. An enchanter, or astrologer, or diviner, or interpreter of dreams, or a charlatan, or one who makes amulets, either they shall cease or they shall be rejected. If someone's concubine is a slave, as long as she has raised her children and has clung only to him, let her hear. Otherwise, she shall be rejected. The man who has a concubine must cease and take a wife according to the law. If he will not, he shall be rejected.


ST. EPIPHANIUS OF SALAMIS
PANARION
VOLUME TWO AND THREE

[Translated by Frank Williams]

A Concise, Accurate Account of the Faith of the Catholic and Apostolic Church (De Fide)

24,3 The church refrains from fellowship with any sect. It forbids fornication, adultery, licentiousness, idolatry, murder, all law-breaking, magic, sorcery, astrology, palmistry, the observation of omens, charms, and amulets, the things called phylacteries. (4) It forbids theatrical shows, hunting, horse <races>, musicians and all evil-speaking and slander, all quarreling and blasphemy, injustice, covetousness and usury. (5) It does not accept actors, but regards them as the lowest of the low. It accepts offerings from people who are not wrong-doers and law-breakers, but live righteously.

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Re: Canons prohibiting laity or clergy from acting on stage

Postby jgress » Sat 7 March 2015 10:48 pm

The question is, is it the acting itself, i.e. portraying persons other than oneself, that is sinful, or is it other kinds of immoral behavior commonly associated with the acting profession? E.g. would you call the actors in the pious movie "Ostrov" as sinning?

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Re: Canons prohibiting laity or clergy from acting on stage

Postby Maria » Sat 7 March 2015 11:25 pm

jgress wrote:The question is, is it the acting itself, i.e. portraying persons other than oneself, that is sinful, or is it other kinds of immoral behavior commonly associated with the acting profession? E.g. would you call the actors in the pious movie "Ostrov" as sinning?


Look at the cultural context in which the Holy Canons were written. At that time actors were portraying immoral acts on stage, specifically sexual acts.

In today's Hollywood scenes, we have actors portraying any number of immoral acts involving the breaking of all the Ten Commandments with nudity, seduction, adultery, violence, blasphemy, and profanity.

However, if a Christian movie or morality play could be written without any of the above immorality, then it could be beneficial.

Nevertheless, there is an element at play upon which the Church frowns, and that is the active use of the imagination and the passions during a drama scene. Whenever an actor portrays another individual successfully and convincingly, he/she must imagine that they are that other person. In that capacity, all the world truly becomes a stage, as a person can pretend to be someone they are not during a job interview to give the best impression and to insure that they are hired.

I remember taking a drama class in college where we were asked to portray the different emotions or passions only using our face without any vocal expressions or other bodily movements. While I was practicing this at home for my presentation, my cat became increasingly aggravated, then took one look at my face, cried, and vanished under the bed. She hid there for more than an hour, and finally I had to coax her out from her hiding place, and then pet her for the longest time before she began to purr and feel comfortable with me.

How can an Orthodox Christian strive for theosis while imagining anger and rage to the point of raping and/or killing someone? Look at the number of actors who have run afoul with the law. The use of the imagination and the passions in the acting profession does not seem to be compatible with purification, illumination, and sanctification. Neither can the praise and adulation given an actor help such a person learn to be meek and humble.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

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Re: Canons prohibiting laity or clergy from acting on stage?

Postby Barbara » Sun 8 March 2015 3:52 am

That helps explain some angles, thank you, Maria.

We also have to look at for example in the 1800s and 1900s, even, too, acting for a small audience or a congenial audience, such as a Church group, has been popular. For example, Russian emigres in Harbin put on acting performances of classics, usually, as a way to keep alive their culture and traditions in a foreign milieu. One can not complain about that.

I rather think "acting on the stage" refers to acting in plays for a general audience. That has always been rather low in tone and often ridiculously cheap, such as vaudeville or even circus performers.

There have been so few good plays written in the past couple of hundred years in America that it is clear that any play which reaches Broadway, for example, will be highly unedifying - at the best ! There may be a few exceptions.
But one has to ask : WHO would WANT to be up there in front of so many strangers playing a role ?
And WHY ? Often it's because the person has low self-esteem to begin with and is seeking external approval. Rather than considering at all to seek God's approval. There is worship of human beings [the audience ; in a movie setting, the box office reviews]. The more one continues in this career, the more one seeks the adulation of the crowd.

If dropped for a term, the actor or actress wilts and may fall into depression, rather than seizing the opportunity to develop himself or herself internally. In short, only an extremely shallow person will pine for this acting route in life.

Hence, society and the media make sure to worship "stars" so to encourage vast numbers of other people to emulate their empty lives.

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Re: Canons prohibiting laity or clergy from acting on stage?

Postby Barbara » Sun 8 March 2015 4:10 am

Though this doesn't relate to Canons, I can't resist adding that one of the VERY FEW exceptions to what has been written by all of us above and elsewhere would be the actor Paul Scofield. He always played serious roles, such as the great Chancellor of England and Roman Catholic Saint, Thomas More, on stage and in the 1966 film, and Shakespearean characters such as King Lear.
According to his wikipedia entry, Paul Scofield 3 times demurred when offered to becme knighted. His reason ? Paul Scofield merely said politely that it wasn't for him. One can translate, however, that he didn't feel any need to get external recognition. [Perhaps, too, he didn't want to join the un-illustrious ranks of those receiving knighthoods in recent decades, like the repulsive singer elton john.]

Having married the actress who played Ophelia to his Hamlet, Scofield stayed married to her for life [incomparably rare amongst the acting guild - or even anyone in the Western secular world today ! ].
Further :
"Filmmaker Michael Winner once described the Scofields as, "one of the few very happily married couples I've ever met."

To be fair, then, there may be a tiny sliver of exceptions where actors or actresses remain humble and dedicated to professionalism as opposed to developing a cult of their own personality !
While of course not Orthodox, and not bound by Canons, it's an inspiring example in a sea of filth via plays, theater and movies.

As for Ostrov, in which the Elder depicted much resembles St Feofil of the Kiev Caves, it seems that depicting parts of the life of a Saint or in this case, a Fool-for-Christ is meant solely as spiritual education for the masses who have become used to the medium of TV or films to absorb any learning.

A far cry from all the vapid - and / or evil - fare which passes for "entertainment", which is the class of theater referred to in the Canon, one would assume.


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