A typical live theater stage show set has three walls that contain every scene. The fourth wall is the implied plane that marks the ‘edge’ of the onstage action. Actors break the fourth wall by acknowledging the existence of the audience and speaking directly to them. So might a writer, like me, do so with you, the reader. (Don’t worry, it’s coming. I promise.) In a Hollywood film or TV show, the fourth wall is where the camera stands and, most of the time, the actors in a scene do not acknowledge the camera or an audience. They carry on as though the scene were real life and treat the ‘missing’ wall as if it were there. The audience sits just beyond that fourth wall. Groucho Marx spoke directly to the audience in the film “Horse Feathers”, advising them to "go out to the lobby" during Chico's piano interlude. Woody Allen broke the fourth wall repeatedly in his movie “Annie Hall”, while Ferris Bueller, played by Matthew Broderick, doesn't just break the fourth wall in “Ferris Bueller's Day Off” - he acts as though a character/audience barrier never existed in the first place. Breaking the fourth wall and addressing the audience throughout an entire show, actors literally step out of their imagined reality and address those watching them. Programs like “Modern Family” and “The Office” are classic TV examples of the method.
Now that we have an understanding, I’m breaking this post’s fourth wall. Before I can even begin to write about my countless Burning Man experiences, I’ve got to be perfectly honest and tell you that there just isn’t the time, and this just isn’t the vehicle. Filling week after week with my adventures in Black Rock City, covering the eight times I’ve been (as of 2023) would be yet another exercise in futility. The internet is full of examples, I assure you. Just Google it, or better yet, YouTube. No two people’s experience could ever be the same, no matter how many times they’ve attended, and I’d venture to say that a very large percentage of attendees would have tremendous difficulty recounting much of their time there. On the other hand, I could ramble on for days with stories, pictures, and videos that would blow your effin' mind. Jeff’s invitation was life changing, and in the coming weeks I'll do my best to explain how and why.