Martin Cooke’s workshop
DON’T TELL ME SHOW ME!
This fun and practical workshop is about body language.
If you are not using your body you aren’t speaking. Body in this sense means the emotions, gesture and actions, which underlie and inform the natural rhythm and colour of speech.
Everybody who has learned or been trained to speak English in a classroom, trying to decipher the absurd, abstract, often ridiculous and always inaccurate representations of language reality in those expensive, glossy, boring books they are forced to engage with, finds it hard to understand real native speech. I have not met a single person who has learned how to communicate effectively in English by reading books in a classroom. Reading is very important. Reading about reading is ridiculous. Don’t do it, it will make you stiff and harm your spontaneity. Get up on your feet and touch the things the books are supposed to be pointing at!
We are all actors – playing our roles – master, servant, boss, worker, mother, teacher, lover, fool. Multiple possibilities arise out of our relationships – but many of us lack narrative skills because we have been taught so successfully to believe in ‘X’ ‘Y’ or ‘Z’ paradigm. This conditioning is particularly harmful at the physical level; at the level of body language. We can’t hear each other because we can’t see each other; we can only see the projection of our belief that something should be one way or another. Thus, the inordinately silly idea that ‘Englishmen eat porridge and are naturally reserved’ arises. Because the voice in our heads is telling us repeatedly that the stereotype is being misrepresented, we can not actually focus on the reality of a non-porridge eating, emotionally well balanced Englishman with a non-BBC accent.
We are also suppressed at the emotional level, meaning that we can’t understand each other because we lack empathy and connection – we focus on the superficial differences, rather than the innate similarities, especially at the emotional level. Whilst the word for perfume is different in any two languages – the happy pleasure of smelling a sweet smelling rose is easy to recognize and understand any time, any place, anywhere, with anybody.
Instead of using gestures, rooted in the emotional source of language we scream at each other from within the impotent silence of our intellectual imprisonment.
The problems are: I can’t hear you – because I can’t see you. I can’t understand you because I don’t feel you.
The solution is: learn to use your universal emotional template like a keyboard. See, act, speak.
Find the source of your meaning at the universal level and carry the message of your speech on the wings of movement, expression, action and gesture. These aspects of language are barely touched upon in ‘English schools’ and the result seems to be – millions of people, all over the world, who have passed their torturous exams after years of study but remain terrified to say a word. The operation was a success but the patient died!
If you fully commit yourself to the simple process of combining voice with movement and emotion in relation to the prevailing status factor of any given speech circumstance then your ability to speak with spontaneity in English will emerge and flower, and your success rate, efficiency and communicative prowess will exponentially improve.
Don’t tell me show me – Martin’s monthly masterclass. 750 rubles. 24/3/13 – 12.00 am.
Martin Cooke, MA is a master of the English language and a professional theatre Director.