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Performance (Tips and tricks)

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Performance (Tips and tricks)
by Jack Morris on Sat, 24 Dec 2005 04:38

Read the peice aloud to yourself about twenty times to get the sound of the peice in your ears. As you read it aloud look for what sounds wrong to you and revise it until you are satisfied.

Also during this process experiment with your voice and look to the meaning and attitudes expressed in the words and what you are trying to get across... both to yourself and to the audience.

Stand up, only lazy poets read peices from chairs, you're not a lazy poet and that's why we love you. Hold the peice in front of you and think about what you should be doing with your body as you read this peice.

In example if your peice is comedic and mentions crabs you might want to make a pincher out of your hands and snap at the audience. If the peice is more blues or lyrically oriented you might want to sway slightly from left to right. It's all up to you and yes, yes you can do this and theres nothing wrong with making mistakes. If you don't make any mistakes then you'll never know where you need to improve... so please make alot of mistakes.

Keep reading the peice and experimenting with your own voice until you so impress yourself that you can't hold back any longer and have to read the peice to another person.

Ask the person for advice and don't settle for "oh that's good"! Ask what they liked and they thought was off. Take in everything positive and negative they say knowing that most folks are not poets and thus won't understand you anyway and stand by your beliefs. What you like matters most anyway.

Read the peice a dozen more times to yourself and continue experimenting. Feel free to revise at any time or expand the length of the peice. Now if you hadn't already add emotion to the peice. Every poem has places of high energy and areas of low energy, areas where emotionally introspective, happy, sad, angry or just plain apathetic.

Read the peice another hundred times while continuing to experiment and try to find out what the peice is about as if it is an old freind. One hopefully you haven't found yourself bored with.

Ok now bring it to the poetry reading and perform the sucker! (You ought to have read the peice aloud about 200 times)

Do not mention the title of the peice or the fact that it is untitled or a work in progres, or that you are a new reader ect. You know this peice almost by heart, you've either got it memorized or nearly so. The peice in your hand is your lover and you are about to have some exhibitionist sex in front of an audience.

Pause a momment and collect yourself, if you're comfortable make a funny comment or very breifly (15 seconds or so) tell a little (miniscule) story about the peice. Such as the other day I saw this grandma selling crack and well it made me want to write. Then launch into your peice.

If you mess up, mispronounce a word... DO NOT STOP! The show must go on whether you messed up or not. In some places repeating the line make sense and hell it might sound good anyways. In other places it's pretty obvious that you've made a mistake and people in the audience will smile knowing that you've reaffirmed the fact that you are very much human. The host will most definately smile and some people may even chuckle.

Strangely when people mess up while reading a peice at a poetry reading it's actually something greeted with open arms. So don't worry about it and get flustered. Just keep going.

Each peice you do is like a ride, you are taking the audience with you a journey somewhere and if you stop you are basically throwing folks out of a moving car.

So again do not stop... keep going no matter what. If you found that you have stopped don't apologize. If you find that you've stumbled don't apologize or get distracted. You are up on stage and just like at a play apologizing ruins the dispension of disbelief.

Feel free to pause, to take a breath... this just comes off as a dramatic pause and feeds the momment. Find your place again and keep going.

Never ever start over from the begining. Remember that you are taking the audience for a ride and the only way to go is forward.

When you are done with the peice pause and say "Thank You". This lets the audience know that you are done, there's likely other methods to do this and you might want to come up with your own unique method. Yet really sometimes if you are turning pages the audience does not know or they may just want you to keep going wanting more.

In regards to wanting more, always keep the audience wanting more. So if you are reading a heavyweight peice (five minutes), just do the one. That's all the time you have during a round anyways. If you are reading a midweight peice (one to three minutes) best to still read only one and maybe a lightweight peice as well. If you're doing a bunch of lighweight peices best to keep it to about three.

If you are not confident about a peice, just do one. Especially if it's experimental. Experiments at poetry readings really ought to be kept short in the light to midweight range. As you gain confidence and experience with your self and your peices, toss these suggestions aside.

It takes awhile to train your voice and body to perform so don't expect it to happen overnight. Sometimes it takes years to be able to communicate and express yourself from your soul. To the point where you actually are so in touch with yourself that you cry up on stage with the emotions of your peices. Yet if you keep at it you'll eventually get there. Then again that may not be what you are after with your poetry.

Jack Morris

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This post was edited on 24 December 2005 @ 05:13.

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