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"Breaking the Fourth Wall"
Rooms generally have four walls. The basic notion behind stage drama is that you're watching action in a room in which one of the walls is invisible, and you're seeing right through it into where the action is occurring. Three normal walls and an invisible fourth wall which separates the audience from the actors. They don't know it's invisible; they don't know you're there. So when an actor turns and directly addresses the audience, acknowledging the audience's presence, that's called "breaking the fourth wall." The stage term has carried over into movies ("Ferris Bueller's Day Off") and TV ("Clarissa Explains it All", "Moonlighting") Usually only one character in a show does it; for everyone else, the fourth wall continues to exist. They not only don't acknowledge the audience's presence, usually they don't even notice that the narrator is addressing someone who--for their reality--isn't there.

















This page was last updated on July 15, 1997.