At the beginning of last Saturday’s “Eloquent” workshop, Antonio Rocha (pronounced “hōsha”) asked each participant to voice what they hoped to get out of the day. In addition to some specifics, I said, “Oh yeah, and I want to learn how to float!” Antonio’s response set the tone for the whole day: “The first step is that you must believe you can float!”
Antonio presented this all-day workshop on the eloquence of “transitions” in storytelling. He shared a vast amount of information, along with many demonstrations, that revealed Antonio’s own inimitable style and philosophy, learned and practiced over many, many years as both a mime and storyteller.
Here, in what may be a somewhat disjointed array, I offer my transcribed notes from the workshop. Each one being a great tip by itself; all together, they barely scratch the surface of what we learned from his examples, dialogue and coaching.
Authenticity comes from research and observation. Real monkeys don’t scratch their armpits. One must observe without judgment.
Imagine a movie, where you can place the camera wherever is most important. Understand the POV (point of view) of the audience. What POV will best tell the story? Make your story and your movements “three dimensional”.
Give space. Back up, open your arms and use your whole body when reacting. Be astonished, and give space to that astonishment. You must “materialize” the object or person you see. Show don’t tell. Show the audience the “quality of discovery” by the character.
Most often, use the “forward angle” (face front) to focus on the person or thing you are seeing. This is the most powerful position. If you see it, the audience will see it with you.
Focus on who is being talked to. Talk only to them, not to the whole audience. (This was not as easy as it would seem. It took great concentration for me and others who are so used to making eye contact with every audience member.)
Know the geography of the story. Where is each element, person, place or thing in the story? Know “where you are coming from and where you are going.” Use your body and arms to “cross fade” from one character to another, or one scene to another.
Transitions can be done with a sound, with a stare, with stillness. Don’t rush, let the audience see it and feel it… then break the illusion.
Let things “simmer” – and here, Antonio revealed that he was inspired when he recently viewed a rehearsal video in which Michael Jackson asked the drummer to, “let it simmer.”
After lunch, Antonio coached several willing participants in their stories. Watching him observe and coach each teller was an amazing process and lesson.
The fifteen minutes of focus and coaching I got from Antonio was priceless. It will stay with me forever!