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Posted by Chukwudi Nwokike on Tuesday February 28, 2012 14:36:12:

Introduction: Being Human

Drama is a human art. Since human beings generate the crisis in society and also create the means for their elimination, it is proper for us to begin this presentation with an exploration of what being human entails.
Thomas Aquinas' assertion that humans are "made almost on a par with the angels" in their ability to acquire and apply knowledge is reassuring; however, human beings share some basic characteristics of other animals, namely: "love for power and uninhibited sexual aggression" (Oke 4), which frequently generate conflicts in human communities. Some plays demonstrate these traits, for example, Agamemnon by
Aeschylus (525-456 B.C).
Human beings are unpredictable. It is, therefore, very difficult to know what an individual really means, believes or intends to do. If we compare humans with animals, the dishonesty of human beings is accentuated. When a dog, for instance, is agitated, it barks. When it is happy to see another animal or a human being, it wags its tail. On the other hand, the smile on a human face is often deceptive, but not so with infants, because they have not learnt to pretend. However, from adolescence to adulthood, humans cannot be predicted. They may pretend to be happy with you when they are bitter. In that
case, the smiles on their faces are mere camouflage. A dictionary definition of the word "camouflage" clarifies what we are talking about: "behaviour that is deliberately meant to
hide the truth: Her angry words were camouflage for the way she felt (Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, 2004). Prophet Jeremiah, therefore, says: "Who can understand the human heart? There is nothing else so deceitful" (Jeremiah 17:9).
This provides much thrills for readers of fiction, as well as theatre audiences. William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar- is a good example of this human trait. Brutus achieves his aim of killing Julius Caesar through betrayal, while Mark Anthony gets
the support of the masses through a speech marked by deceptive turns. He starts off by telling the audience: "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.. ." (Act 111, Scene 11, 143), thus giving the impression that he is not bothered by his assassination.
Humans are very curious or inquisitive, but at the same time, are very secretive. 'There is, therefore,' a great divide between private and public life. Humans work very hard to present good image of themselves in public through dress codes and composure. Women, in particular, spend much time and money making up. Men, on the other hand, take a lot of risks in asserting their manhood. Certainly all these involve pretence.
The effort of humans to improve their image often generates self-assertiveness and self-praise. Human beings hardly accept that they are at fault or wrong. Their self-centred nature is more pronounced in less successful or capable individuals who frequently draw attention to themselves, in order to divert attention from their inadequacies. The saying that an empty drum makes the loudest sound is appropriate here. Human imitative talents of "impersonation" are sometimes used by such individuals for objectives that are criminal or antisocial. Those involved in Advanced Fee Fraud (419), for example, practise impersonation while carrying out their deals or schemes. Their activities in commercial areas and churches are widespread. Wole Soyinka's Brother Jero is a good example of the place of fraudulent impersonation in holy places. Deception and manipulation are possible because humans are susceptible to them.


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