The very first impression an audience receives, and judges, from an actor or a speaker comes from the body. And the energy it emits. It changes everything – your voice, your movement, your authenticity, your commitment, and your spirit.
Is the body tense?
Is the movement flowing or rigid?
Are the hands hidden?
Are the eyes down?
Is the circle of energy this body produces small or filling the whole room?
An audience immediately responds on a subliminal level, – liking the person or not, trusting the person or not, fearing the person or not – depending on what energy the body is transmitting.
I often ask my actors to do their monologues without words. It is surprising to see the amount of energy that is suppressed when we rely just on words. It is also surprising to see the body come alive in all areas when words cannot be used. Try it.
What should we know about the body and the energy emitted?
Are you rooted in the ground like a confident tree? (See exercise below).
Is your energy filling the space and moving from you to each person you speak to?
Are you willingly receiving the energy flowing back to you?
Do you know how to soothe – (float energy out over the audience), command attention (radiate energy out), and embrace (radiate energy by surrounding the audience with it)? Energy is something every actor and speaker must learn to master effectively in order to fully realize the extraordinary communicator within.
EXERCISE: Grounding yourself in your breath in your body
- Stand facing a wall.
- Place one or two hands against the wall, and then exert a little pressure on the wall.
- Keep your shoulders and upper chest free and unlocked, with your weight on the balls of your feet and your heels on the ground.
Maintain this pushing pressure and breathe in and out calmly. The breath should be low and you will feel a synchronized breath and support as your push. In this way you will feel when you are losing support and need to inhale. This inhalation will come easily if the breath is silent and low in the body.
When you come away from the wall, you will feel more connected to your breath, yourself, and the world. This free and flexible breath places you in the moment and can then serve your physical, emotional, and intellectual needs. The more you breathe naturally, the more present you will be.
Patsy Rodenberg speaking of energy in Three Circles of Energy:
First Circle is the Circle of Self and Withdrawal and although useful at times for moments of introspection and reflection, if you live mainly in this circle you will be limited, your passion for life will be dulled and you are shy. You will also tend to absorb other people’s energy to try and compensate and therefore you will be rather a draining person to deal with – I can think of several of my students who are like this and if I am not careful they can wipe me out by the end of the lesson! First Circle energy will also not be enough for a performer to be effective.
Third Circle is the Circle of Bluff and Force where energy is outward moving and non-specific – people who operate mainly in this circle are self-centred but in a different way. They want to be the centre of attention – we have all come across people like this at parties and all that energy which they push out has the effect of making us switch off. Third Circle operators are in fact using this way of behaviour as a shield to protect themselves. They do not receive any energy from the world as they are alone, fighting to control life and perceived by people around them as arrogant and over-bearing. In singing these performers tend to push the voice out there using too much energy and the audience hit by this barrage of sound does not listen with rapt attention. In teaching, these are the students who march into the room with an over-inflated sense of self-confidence and do not listen. Again these people are exhausting to deal with.
Second Circle is The Energy of Connecting. People who operate in this circle have real presence. People who operate in this circle give out energy but also receive it back. These are the performers who literally change our lives when we listen to them. You feel they are connecting directly with you personally even although you may be one of a very large audience. They connect. These students are the ones who give back energy to you and we emerge from our studio feeling as if we have not been working at all. If only all our students could be like that, we say.