They’re the same thing.
Faith, according to Webster, is “unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence.” It’s that ability for believers to believe in a Supreme Being, a set of doctrine, a way of life, etc., as a viable, sensible state of awareness. It’s a collection of Beliefs, Attitudes, and Values (BAV) that have been filtered, sorted, and arranged through time, events, and reflection, resulting in a unique prism (perspective) through which Life– and Death– make more sense.
I’ve written about Willing Suspension of Disbelief (WSD) before in a “Letter to the Players,” where I wish the actors a good performance and describe how important their performance is to the imaginations of the kids for whom they are about to perform. WSD is the audience’s version of Faith in your performance. They believe it or they don’t. They are able to get swept away in your performance or they’re not.
A typical audience-member arrives at the theatre with baggage. They’ve had a rough day at school or work, perhaps they won the lottery, maybe they’re in the middle of an argument with a loved one… all that influences their mood and outlook. Their ability to “willingly suspend their natural inclination to dis-believe what they see onstage as a plausible reality” is crucial to their being able to enjoy their time in the Theatre.
Everything about a theatre wreaks of UN-reality: the fact that a group of strangers have surreptitiously gathered to observe an event that has been written, rehearsed, and presented by another group of people. The audience must allow themselves to get caught up in the collection of moments that are presented to them. Otherwise, their experience in the theatre will be like observing a slight-of-hand artist who is about to do a trick you’ve performed a million times yourself. Your not subjectively watching, getting caught up in the trick– you’re objectively watching, analyzing the mechanics of the performance for mistakes instead.
Helping an audience’s WSD is not easy, however, a good actor, working for a good director, using a script by a good playwright may have enough help to pull it off.
If I were to be a guest speaker at a church some Sunday, I would like to talk about the relationship between WSD for theatre-goers and Faith for church-goers. I think the parallels are interesting. Plus, I’ve always said that some of the best actors I’ve ever known were preachers.