What is the 4th Wall?

The Fourth Wall is a theatrical term for the imaginary “wall” that exists between actors on stage and the audience.  Obviously, no such wall really exists, but to keep up the illusion of theatre, the actors pretend that they cannot hear or see the audience and the audience gets to enjoy the wonderful sensation of being a fly on the wall.  The same effect often occurs in movies, only the fourth wall in that instance is a camera lens.

Although most modern drama usually shies away from acknowledging the audience (with the possible exception of holding for laughs), the fourth wall was frequently broken in Elizabethan and Restoration drama.  Actors in Shakespeare’s day would run through the audience (often chasing other actors onto the stage), make various asides and jokes to the audience personally and usually at the expense of the other actors on stage, and even sit in the audience members’ laps or ask them to hold a crucial prop in an attempt to hide it.

Just as actors sometimes have to “break the 4th wall” to connect to an audience, so individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome or other Autistic Spectrum Disorders sometimes have to break through the  difficult and sometimes incomprehensible barriers that separates us from neuro-typicals.  Theatre has helped me more than even the best therapy or medication in putting myself out there, breaking through the stereotypes and disadvantages that are so often associated with Asperger’s Syndrome.  Obviously, not everyone with Asperger’s can act or has any desire to do so, but I think it is important for all Aspies to realize that such a lifestyle, however challenging, is possible and that there are countless other opportunities in the world I hope will only continue to become more and more attainable.  And it is my hope that through the small contribution of this blog, and through an increasing awareness of neurological disorders in the general public, the world will become a little more open-minded about people who see the world a little differently.  Maybe a few decades down the road, individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome and other Autistic Spectrum Disorders will be able to defy the social stigma that is too often placed on them and break through the fourth wall, both on the stage and in life.

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36 Responses to “What is the 4th Wall?”

  1. […] a social media platform provides to the stars and their fans is the proverbial breaking down of the 4th wall. Not till this medium came up, would a common person have imagined having a direct conversation […]

    Liked by 1 person

  2. snot

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  3. OK, This is breaking the 4th wall
    There’s this series I’ve been watching called TSF, and in it, Colton/Blake Fall down stairs alot, making them have a fight with the Creator, Chaz Walser. Since Colton/Blake knows that they’re in a flim, they’re breaking the 4th wall
    2nd meaning
    Dr. Turtwig Doesn’t know what to do next, and he walks off into his Hostpital
    Super Chikorita Addresses the Audience, “Tell us in the comments what we should do next!”
    Super Chikorita Broke the 4th wall by addressing us AND Turning to the camera

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  4. […] between them and their customers. To use a theatrical term, social media allow companies to “break down the fourth wall”. This can be credited in part to Nando’s new ad agency, MetropolitanRepublic, which stakes its […]

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  6. Thank you for this insight my friend.

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  7. […] https://alwaysactingup.wordpress.com/what-is-the-4th-wall/ […]

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  8. http://www.4thwalltheatre.co.nz/

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  9. Okay, i understand the meaning of the forth wall, but i have got a question about this video (below). Where the host reviews movies and addresses the audience directly. He does perform pretty well and still one of my favorite reviewers out there.
    In the video he uses what we think of his hair as an example of what the movie is like. I thought that was jumping through the forth wall, if the 3 walls did include the audience in the first place. Anyhow, i seek an answer here because i am skeptic of youtube comment section. Was that the point he cross the fourth wall or a fifth ?! or he did no such thing at all ?!

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  10. Breaking the fourth wall is usually used now to further the story with the audience, or it’s used for humor. The comic anti-hero Deadpool is famous for it. He is aware he is a fictional character. In the story arc, “Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe”, he is made aware of the comic publishers. He ‘frees’ the heroes and villains by killing them off, one by one. At the end, he actually breaks out of his comic and is seen watching the comic story writers and artists discussing what happens next. As he stands there, he speaks directly to the audience, saying that he will be coming for them next.

    There have also be instances where Deadpool with skip through his comic, pulling information from the past and future, using it to his advantage in combat or against opponents, since he has gained information in the comic that they don’t know yet.

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  11. I now know what is breaking the fourth wall. Very splendid.

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  12. […] history, cabaret was one of the few theatre genres that didn’t obey the tradition of the Fourth Wall. Without literally imagining a wall, the concept is a metaphor for the gap between the events on […]

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  13. […] *AA turns to break the Fourth Wall* […]

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  14. Bs

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  15. […] as the “Merc with a Mouth” because of his talkative nature and tendency to break the fourth wall, which is used by writers to create humorous […]

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  16. […] De hecho, romper la cuarta pared también se usa en la vida realmente, así como AlwaysActingUp indica en su blog: la gente con síndrome de Asperger o desórdenes del Espectro Autista normalmente tienen que romper su propia cuarta pared para interactuar con el mundo que les rodea, no solo con su propio mundo interior (si quieres leer más sobre esta interesantísima teorías, por favor HAZ CLICK AQUÍ). […]

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  17. […] De facto, breaking the fourth wall is also used in real life, as AlwaysActingUp points out on his blog: people with Asperger’s syndrome and other Autistic Spectrum Disorders usually have to break their own fourth wall to interact with the world that is around them, not only inside them (if you want to read more about this very interesting theory, please CLICK ON HERE). […]

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  18. […] calling attention to and experimenting with the boundaries that they’ve been set. Just like “breaking the fourth wall” is used in cinema, both THINX and metagrams break through to their audience by acknowledging […]

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  19. Malcolm in the middle breaks the fourth wall when he turns and says something to the camera, usually that he doesn’t want the other characters to know.

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  20. […] What is the fourth wall?  I really like this post: https://alwaysactingup.wordpress.com/what-is-the-4th-wall […]

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  21. shut up everybody

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  22. […] This is why we can’t have nice things. There comes a time in every person’s life where something breaks on them, whether it be their computer, car, or even their mentality. Wasn’t it just a few months ago that this website bro—oh, hello readers. Can you update me on how long it’s been since GameCola was down? While you gather the finer details, I’ve gathered some answers for a very precarious question. Without further adieu, this month’s question is this: What is your favorite moment in a videogame that broke the fourth wall? (In case you were wondering, the fourth wall is a concept introduced in acting and live performances. The fourth wall is essentially the wall the audience sits behi…oh for crying out loud, just click here.) […]

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  23. […] film often breaks the “fourth wall” – the imaginary “wall” that exists between actors and the audience – making us aware of […]

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  24. I might do an analysis article about the 4th wall

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  25. […] https://alwaysactingup.wordpress.com/what-is-the-4th-wall/ […]

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  26. […] The production of “Good Kids” was being performed by the Chapman University College of Performing Arts students. A hard-hitting theatrical experience tackling the affects of sexual assault on all lives involved. I had expectations going in, knowing it would create an intimate setting between the actors and audience with a smaller thater. But there is the infamous 4th wall that is barely broken in theater. The wall between the audience and actors, preventing any sort of interaction between the two, strictly as if characters are being watched from a screen, separating the two worlds to “keep up the illusion of theater.” […]

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  27. […] Trump’s so angry at theatre, he’s gonna try to build a fourth wall. […]

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  28. Breaking the First wall is where a charcter acknowledges they, or other characters, are engaged in a literary device (ex: The road runner hits the Cayote on the head with an anvil every episode. Cayote tells himself he is tired of the same old “gag”).

    Breaking the Second wall is when a character acknowledges a story like structure or plot to their life or to the day.

    Breaking the Third wall is when a character acknowledges directly or indirectly that they are in a movie, tv show, comic book, book. (Ex: a manga character says “This situation is insane! It’s not like we’re in a manga or something!)

    Breaking the fourth wall directly references the audience. (A movie character is exasperated so much with a situation that they stare exhaustedly at the actual audience)

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  29. […] the audience and the audience gets to enjoy the wonderful sensation of being a fly on the wall.” (https://alwaysactingup.wordpress.com/what-is-the-4th-wall/) Breaking the fourth wall means: “doing or saying something that either explicitly or implicitly […]

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  30. […] Affleck   Footnotes Firstly, here’s more on the concept around which we’ve based this episode: https://alwaysactingup.wordpress.com/what-is-the-4th-wall. Rob spends some time talking about Myers and camera angles; this gives more info on the details of […]

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  31. Theatre is filled with new innovation,which does not hold rigidly to a confined convention even though they are rules and order.yet the dynamism of the theatrical performance is the ability to understudy the audience and situation and skillfully adapt to the given situation in order to satisfy and give answers to human numerous questions and problems.that is what necessitates the braking of this fourth wall in order to inculcate comprehension of the message theatre portrayed.

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  32. Between my dick and your pussy, is there a 4th wall?

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  33. […] can you do? In theatre there is an imaginary barrier between the audience and the actors called the Fourth Wall. Make it your job to tear down that […]

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