Don’t forget to listen to yourself

This is not a mindfulness or self-care post, it’s a drama post.

I had the opportunity to do another cue-scripts workshop recently. All the things that usually work worked beautifully. Actors really listen to one another using this method. The pace is always exemplary, dialogue absolutely snaps when actors are using cue-scripts. They act leaning forward on their toes. However, this made me notice a quirky thing. It takes training to learn to hear oneself speak, that is, to process the meaning of what one is saying, even though one is speaking the words. Doing the thing your character is being led to do is a learned skill.

We were working on scenes from Much Ado About Nothing, which is a play that absolutely hums with embedded directions for physical activity. It’s surprising the way a student who is doing a great job of responding to the verbal cues of other people on stage can still say a line like “I will kiss your hand” without making any gesture towards kissing her hand. When I give out worksheets with instructions for how to go about marking up a script in preparation for performing it, “mark any indications of likely physical action” is included. But it clearly isn’t something that people can do instinctively. Just another example of the way, in teaching, you can think you’ve broken everything down into the most basic building blocks and there will still be further levels of things that need explaining. “Your cousin just fell unconscious to the floor, do you think that you would continue to stand two feet away? What else might you do?” Great fun, of course, to watch people figuring it all out, and always a delight when it works and they surprise themselves.

If you were wondering where I went, I haven’t disappeared, I just got a job at last, so I’ve been busy. It’s not lecturing, but it’s still pretty great: facilitating research and advocating for the value of the Arts. I’ll post links here when there are things to share about our work.

3 thoughts on “Don’t forget to listen to yourself

      • Funny: I just accepted my first fulltime job in years (now that I don’t have to do full time caregiving) and I am also looking forward to (a) having health insurance and (b) feeling somewhat less irrelevant. Here’s to employment!

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