Childhood learning · paintings · Theatre

The Actress Daughter Weighs In On “Play”

Hopscotch, oil on canvas by Herbert Knapp

Last week Herb posted this painting of a little girl playing hopscotch all by herself on his blog. He talked about the nature of play and why it’s so important.

When Sarah read what he had to say, she was moved to respond. It seems to me her remarks are too interesting to languish in the comment section of Herb’s blog. So here they are:

This post got me to thinking. In the theatre, actors, directors, designers, all refer to what they do as “”work.” It legitimizes the play and the fun they are actually all having. I’ve always found it kind of odd to have someone say, “Your work in that play was brilliant.” I have been known to say it too, when I wanted to sound serious and smart. But lets face it; if we are any good at all, we are playing and having a grand time. And sometimes we even get paid for it. How lucky can you get?

So—that’s why they call it a “play”! It’s a game of Let’s Pretend. 

Sarah Knapp pretending to be Carrie Pipperidge in Carousel, North Shore Music Theatre, Beverly, MA. “All I can do is look forward to that wonderful day of days. . .when I marry Mr. Snow.”


Now Herb likes to quote the poet W.H. Auden, so I’ll quote him too:

My own conclusion is that the impulse behind play-acting is a longing to escape into a world of prelapsarian innocence . . . our actions are outside the realm of ethical judgment . . . when we imitate another human being, we imitate a sinner and at the same time we are not guilty of his sins.

Or to put it another way, “his shortcomings.” I hate to think of Carrie as a sinner.