Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Antonio Rocha - Transitions in Eloquence

Antonio Rocha

I use what I learned as a mime in storytelling. I do not mean just mime illusions. 

One can create a lot with stillness, a glance.

Being connected with story through body language is key; it creates atmosphere, and a foundation for the verbal.

Most tellers are nervous about being silent on stage; they think it is dead time. Some look down while others plow through to the next line. It can become dead time if you stare at the stage floor. If you are connected with the essence of the story, your body will be eloquent.

I call transitional moments “empty canvas”, a place where the teller has a chance to create non-verbal atmosphere work that is connected to the story. All day long our bodies reflect our minds, our thoughts. It must also on stage as we surrender ourselves to character.

There are two types of transitions I pay attention to. That between characters in a dialogue, and major scenery changes.

When two characters are going back and forth in a dialogue, pay attention to how they think before they answer or ask a question. There are usually some pauses for thoughts. Pay close attention to when you are dialoguing with a person, or watch as other people around you talk to each other. You will see that is not just word after word. There are lots of pauses connected to their thought process.

Kid: Dad, (Pause as he hesitates to ask) may I have a lollipop?
Dad: Uhmmm, well.. (while looking up as if searching for kind words to deny it ) not now. It is almost suppertime.

All the directions within parentheses are not to be spoken but shown. These thoughts require no talking as the body says it all.

Notice that also I have not written, “the father said and the kid said”. It is obvious who is saying what. Look on a down diagonal at the kid as the father, using appropriate tone of voice, and look upward as the kid looks back at the father. Your body is facing the audience the whole time. There is no need to step left or right or even turn slightly. It is economical and to the point. Most dialogues are between two people who have been previously introduced to the audience. The audience will know who is saying what based on tone of voice and the angle of your line of sight. Do not make eye contact with the audience while in dialogue because the audience is not the character being addressed. You should only look at the audience when you are the narrator.

The transitions between scenes usually do not have dialogue, it is usually the main character approaching a new location or starting a journey. Some unseasoned tellers come to the end of a scene and before moving on, they look down. Never look down, unless there is a reason to. Looking down is dead time because audiences listen by watching mostly your eyes. If they cannot see your eyes there is got to be a good reason for it. Instead, look at the back wall behind the audience and take a few moments to see what the character is seeing, and most importantly, how the character is reacting to it.

Life is about reactions. Is it a scary forest they are about to enter? A journey they have never taken before? Allow yourself to surrender to that moment, to be in the character’s shoes.

Observe life around you and it will serve your presentation.

Enjoy your eloquent pauses.

Antonio Rocha is a storyteller, workshop facilitator and coach. For more information please visit

Thank you, Antonio, for sharing with us!  Check out Antonio's website!  
If you haven't had enough of him quite yet, here is his Ted Talk.

Happy Telling!

1 comment:

  1. Donna - Nice to have Antonio for a guest post! I know you're busy-busy; however... I've "nominated" you for a Liebster Award! - which I've never heard of before last week, when I got "nominated." For all I know, you've received it before...But whether or not, you can read all about it, a somewhat-whimsical way to connect and recognize and spread the word about favorite blogs, on my blog today []. And of course whether or not you "accept the award" (do all the stuff the "rules" say) and participate in the Liebster daisy-chain is of course up to you - but I wanted to nominate your blog and spread its word. (There's no schedule or deadline, so you can also postpone doing it, if it interests you but there's no time for it just now.) In any case: welcome home and happy summer stuff! - Pam