Before books existed we passed on information orally. We conveyed messages not only through speech but through a variety of gestures and poses. Our body was part of the communication vehicle. Gestures and poses were an integral part of the language.
Telling stories orally is a different experience than reading them a story aloud. We are comparing two different media, one is closer to theatre, the other one to literature. In one we perform the story as if the events were unfolding in front of our eyes, in the other we can describe past events and show the drawings that illustrate them.
Gestures and poses don't need to be learned, just practice them. We all know them, our body knows them, we just have forgotten them from such little use in our era of the digital media when we talk to our friends looking down at the cellular phone. We will remember them in group/ individual exploration exercises, how to express emotions, how to embody the different characters in the story by their unique voice, their ways of walking, their characteristic movements and gestures. We will remember basic pantomime, how to show actions, how to add emotions to actions, how to pass from one character to the other.
Just as illustrations in a book help us see the characters and the scenery, the oral storyteller can create detailed images of places and events in the minds of the audience by using only body and voice. How to is new for most and these are important tools we will learn in class. How to show the size and shape of objects, the size and shape of places and spaces, the time it needs to cross a long distance, the size of a forest or desert. Without a book.
THE WORKSHOP IS DESIGNED FOR PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS OR FOR GROUPS. No previous experience needed.
At present I teach a course at the Efrata Academic School of Education in Jerusalem to kindergarten teachers, teachers of special education needs and to primary school teachers.
Students are surprised when I tell them to close the book, and not to remember the text by heart. We are not doing literature. We want to act out the events, play the characters, live the emotions they go through and express them, not describe them. The children are presented with the events as they unfold in front of them and they can empathize with them as they happen, not as they are described to them.The difference is huge between seeing happiness and being told “X is happy”. Learning is not only the intellectual grasping of what makes one happy but a shared emotional experience of happiness. It develops not only the intellect of the children but their emotional IQ as well. From the research in neuroscience we know of mirror neurons and how they become active in the motor and emotion perception areas of the brain of someone who is watching motions and emotions in someone else.
Click here to watch a video the results of 10 meetings with students who had no background in acting it was the first time they performed for an audience.
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THE TECHNIQUES I TEACH PROVIDE TOOLS FOR THE TEACHER IN ANY TEACHING SITUATION: how to be expressive and communicative and enhance learning in a way that it involves the students whatever their age
Most kindergarten teachers who read stories have their eyes down focused on the text they are reading and the body still and very inexpressive. At most they make some voice changes when they quote characters and lift up the book to show the illustrations. The same can be said of many lecturers.
Students will learn how to create an atmosphere of attention, how to create suspense and other dramatic devices to keep attention going since a story can’t be interrupted as a book can be put down ‘to continue later”.
How to shift control from themselves as the narrator to the story events (or the contents of the lesson).
Most students have the tendency to speak soft and quickly, for a teacher this is an invitation to boredom. They must learn to use their voice so that it is clear and carries meaning giving time for the listener to digest it.
Any live performance in front of a public begins with “stage fright” at the beginning, students learn to overcome this and gain self confidence.
What is needed for a group workshop:
A place with enough room to move, not filled with tables and chairs.
A computer and projector to watch movies.
A locker to keep clothes ( if possible I like participants to wear neutral color comfortable clothing)
Who can join:
Anybody. No previous experience needed.
15 participants is the ideal maximal amount. More than 20 hinders the teacher from following up the development of each one.
Private training: In my Jerusalem studio or your place.
I told stories in the library of Youth Wing of the Israel Museum and all my puppet theater performances have an element of storytelling in which I am the narrator of events.