As a performer myself, and with lots of friends in the industry, I dare say there is never a dull moment! I am yet to meet a performer who leaves the theatre/film set at the end of their working day and “stops performing”. To them performing is not a job, it is a way of life. I’m not necessarily talking about leaping down the road towards the tube station, tap dancing whilst waiting for the bus and even living an entire day in song (although these things do ring a bell!). I’m talking about the simple things; introductions, holding a conversation, public speaking, or even buying a newspaper.
Our world is full of performers, some of which we don’t consider to be “performing”. Think of a politician or an old teacher that you admire. Why do you admire them? Firstly, this person has engaged with their audience (you) and furthermore convinced you that the message they were conveying was true and transmitted it in an interesting way. Your chosen person has used a combination of performance skills to capture your attention and draw you into their beliefs.
A good performing arts school, such as The Pauline Quirke Academy will teach all of the fundamental skills to create a captivating public speaker. Let’s break down this desired skill set:
- CONFIDENCE: It goes without saying that to stand up in front of a group of people and speak alone is a daunting thought. At PQA, students perform in front of each other every week during class. During showcases, students will perform in front of family and friends. During festivals and West End events, they will perform for people they have never seen before. We build our students from performing as a class, to small group pieces, to eventually performing solo. Confidence doesn’t evolve over night. It has to be built gradually.
- PROJECTION: If the audience can’t hear what you have to say, they will fall to sleep. Every week at PQA our students perform vocal exercises to promote clarity, diction, projection and dynamic. We look at intonation within speech avoiding at all cost the dreaded monotone (unless required as a specific character).
- EYE CONTACT: Engage the audience, even if you can’t see them. Whether talking to 10 people or 10,000 we emphasise the need for a performance to feel intimate. Eye contact is a vital part of communication in performing arts, speaking and in everyday life.
- CONTENT: At PQA we expose our students to a variety of material; from Shakespeare to devised work. When creating scripts for their Film & TV projects, we look at structure and how to write to keep the audience captivated. The same goes for public speaking.
- PHYSICALITY: There are various acting techniques to develop physicality for a character. This makes our students aware of their body language and posture and what message they are silently conveying.
It’s so rewarding for us to see our student’s skill set flourish whilst they are having fun at PQA each week. Some of our students use the skills we teach to go on to work professionally through our agency “Quirky Kidz”. Others interview successfully at top universities such as Cambridge or Oxford. Whichever path they choose to take, these skills will travel with them.