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  • Writer's pictureYorgos Karamalegos

ETHOS | Transforming Words into Vibrant Performances

Image by: Geoffrey Posada Serguier

Dear Labbers,

At your request for a deeper dive into one of Physical Lab's most renowned exercises, here's an extensive article guiding you on the art of transforming text into a captivating performance.

The power of a performance lies in the performer’s ability to make the audience believe in the character and the world they inhabit. A fundamental aspect of achieving this, is having a deep connection and ownership of the script.

The Ownership of Text exercise is an effective tool that helps all people achieve an empowering delivery and a magnetic physical presence, which is rooted in their own essence.

A Step-by-Step Guide!

  1. Choose a passage: Select a passage from a monologue, a duologue from the script, or the lyrics of a song or the text that you need to present.

  2. Get the body in the Oven: Begin by standing or lying on the floor. For a few minutes, move the body instinctually, imagining it's a Sunday morning and you are stretching in bed. Breathe generously; breathing becomes an expansive, massaging sensation for the lungs and the ribs. Explore stretches and movements throughout the entire body. Notice the gentle connection between body and mind rising through this surrender to conscious physical movements.

  3. Get the text in the Oven: Maintain this connection with the body and start speaking out loud the first sentence of your text, with the key focus on the 'tasting of the words,' the 'tasting' of the vowels and consonants. Practice as if you are discovering the words for the first time. And for now don’t worry about the scene circumstances, the character, the melody of a song or the intention of your speech. Stay with each sentence multiple times before moving to the next one. At times, you might stay and explore even just one word for multiple times. This repetition is the key to the ownership of the text. It is through this repetition that you will discover the different rhythms and pacing of each word, as well as the different dynamics within them. Remember to allow the body to naturally respond and take part into to the tasting of this architectural structure of the language. Explore a few more sentences with these instructions.

  4. Vowels and Consonants: As you warm into this, you will begin to experience the power of rather harsh consonants such as the letters K, P, T, D or the comforting sensations of the letters M, N, L, R, S, or V, as well as the vibrational journeying into the vowels A, O, E, I, OU. You will discover the space for emotional expression within the vows. My dear Drama School Mentor, Nellie Karra, used to say that vowels are the emotional principle of the language, while consonants are the logical principle. Take on a journey with this guidance, and explore the entire text.

  5. Archetypal connection: As you continue, you find yourself entering into an archetypal connection with the text. This involves identifying the fundamental sensations that arise from embodying these words—a connection with the history of the words. It's an exploration deeply rooted in collective consciousness, forming a subconscious bond. Embark on a journey guided by this insight and remain open to discoveries on all levels: physicality, intellect, instinct, imagination, emotions, and, of course, your engagement with your voice and language.

  6. Ownership: There will come a point where certain words and sentences undeniably resonate as true. Your entire being will resonate distinctly with a specific nuance of a word, and a sentence may evoke a particular color, sensation, meaning, or even a feeling. You'll experience a sense of grounding, fulfillment, release, and ease with your presence. This signifies that you've achieved it—you've established the connection. You've immersed yourself in the text in your own unique way. This is an opportune moment to sit with your discoveries, make notes, and eventually revisit your script. Take note of how some sentences may read and feel differently, how certain meanings may become richer. At this point, you've carved a new path in your brain and body for this text, and you now hold ownership over it.

  7. Bringing my discoveries into perspective: Now, you're ready to release all this hard work! Allow it to become a gift to your subconscious mind and body, and begin speaking the text aloud. You might sense a transformation within yourself. Take note of the discoveries in the meaning, atmosphere, and emotional resonance of the text. Observe the multi-layered clarity you've acquired in expressing yourself. Recognise the physical confidence in carrying your body weight and radiating energy, enhancing the significance and the meaning of your words. Notice how it becomes easier to pause, breathe, and simply be instead of rushing through the lines.

  8. Remember: to build upon what you've discovered rather than focusing on what isn't working. If you ever feel disconnected, consider immersing yourself further in certain words that need more attention. Infuse playfulness into this process, and feel free to revisit it as often as you like. Make it a regular warm-up routine before sharing your work.

How can you be sure you're on the right track?

How can you know if you're truly embodying the text?

The litmus test is fulfilment!

It should feel like your entire being is immersed in and sharing a distinct nuance.

Ethos Clarification

Keep in mind that the essence of our lab is grounded in the recognition that each individual possesses their unique pathway to expression. While I provide specific steps, ensure you remain open to discovering your own ways into this approach. As you delve into your text, you might encounter images, stories, and physical impulses. There will be moments when you connect with the logical meaning of the words, and others when you tap into their archetypal essence. Scenes from your script may come to life, or scenes from personal life, transporting you beyond the script's circumstances. Embrace all these experiences; they are all valid. The key is that they lead you to embody the text.

Below, you'll find videos from my recent mentorship in Crete, focusing on the ownership exercise specifically on working on songs and musical parts.

Looking forward to your requests.

Stay present - Stay Grounded.

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