Core emotion, core movement

G is past ‘David’s lament’ full text analysis. He has performance decisions and he’s ready to practice them. The thing is, storytelling is not only about what the storyteller wants or needs. Storytelling is a dynamic partnership, and it shifts from performance to performance. What G sees as fixed decisions right now, will not always work. What will work, is carrying an essence about the story, which some people call – point of view. The essence for G will not necessarily be the essence for all his listeners. The fact he has an essence connected to this particular text, is what’s important.

This also helps the storyteller keep an emotional core, that influences his style of telling a specific story. If he’s missing that core, most of his stories will sound the same.

Finding the emotional core of a text

This is one way, there are others. Here, I’m describing the exercise I did with G. Please notice: the trainer has to be both a sensitive facilitator and a well developed storyteller, that can authentically shift her emotional charging. If you don’t have one around, you can substitute her part by bringing in several storytellers to perform – each one in their own style – and decide who is going to facilitate. So this exercise can also be interesting for a workshops.

Setting the stage (what I said to G):

  • Stories move along time – in the story, in the telling or both.
  • You will stand still on a starting point and if you need to move forward, move as much as you need.
  • I will stand very close behind you and perform the text. You will listen, let my voice and words go inside.
  • If you feel my words make you want to move, gesture, make faces – anything that has to do with movement – do it.
  • If you need to say something – stop me, turn around and say it.

That’s what we did. The first round, I performed from an emotional core I’d call ‘Heroism’. After several sentences G stopped me and said, “I don’t like this. I’m driven to illustrate the words, I feel ridiculous”. So we started again. This time I performed from a ‘Legacy’ core. G was doing his best not to giggle but rather feel what kind of inner movement it elicited. “It makes me want to impress and move in a disconnected way. It’s a very artificial feeling”.

Then we tried again and this time I was performing from ‘Power yet sorrow’. “I don’t have the need to move here, but my chest feels heavy”. Then we started another version, where I was using the intention ‘Love”. “It’s taking over. I can’t feel all the text, only the more descriptive parts”.

After trying these four versions, I wanted to know which version G sees as the one that created the deepest movement inside him. He chose the third – power yet sorrow.

What on earth do I do with my hands?!

That was G’s next question. Before going forward we spoke a little about storytellers and movement. What we particularly looked at was the possibility of internalizing movement. I’m reminding you that during the intake phase, G mentioned he is too busy with gestures, which makes him tired. Finding the emotional core helps finding the movement core.

I asked G to look at an imaginary audience-member sitting on a couch in front of him. My request was “with a single movement, no words or sound, how would you transfer the entire story to this person, if your choice is the third choice?” Students here know speaking seriously to thin air is part of my training style… G gave it a try. “What do you say, did you make it?” I asked. “I don’t know,” he replied. “Well, how can you know?” … silence. “Look in that person’s eyes. What do you see coming back at you?” “Hmmm… they are waiting for a point. In any case, I can’t see my intention there.” G tried again, looked at the imaginary eyes for feedback, his body was searching and so were his facial expression and hands. The third attempt led to a “click”. There it was, clear and accurate, the storyteller managed to make the person in the audience “nod” as if saying “I see what you mean. Yes.”

“Now look at your body, your face, the movement, what do you see?” G’s body was standing upright, his eyes looking directly forward with a soft expression and one of his hands was burdening his chest.

Next: The power of a spoken word

G made this sketch at the end of the lesson when I asked him to draw the drama the way he sees it. He started at the left hand side, moving up shraply and then continued adding horisontal ‘plots’ for ‘lack of space’ (which he solved very well in other places in this sketch…) eventually a tree extracted it self – look at the movement.

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