Some courses have you keep journals, to examine your own thoughts and progress with the course. I think a lot more classes could benefit from doing things like that.
Today I found a 5 year old journal, from one of the first courses I took at University, which was Drama & Speech (but part of English Studies). What I want to do here today is share it in it’s entirety with you, as it was already digitized. Enjoy:
First lesson. The goal of the lesson was how speech can improve with practice, but also daring to speak out loud. The first time you read a text it can be a bit uneasy, as you keep repeating it you get familiar with the text and get to know it. When you speak in front of a group or around people it’s very easy to get a bit quiet, especially at the end of the sentence.
We also got to try to open up our voices, with energetic exercises. It was interesting, even if the class as a whole still scares the shit out of me. Drama and public speaking has never been my strong suit, even if I still do the latter.
My weakness is definitely my own creative openness, I can be creative in my own time and alone but when around people with a set assignment and the premise of “Do this out loud right now” I really cramp up, and I just had to use my frustrations instead of a passion. I do however feel satisfied that I found an emotion to use. Something inside of me so I could take the first steps in this class to improve, and get through the class.
In a whole I feel the lesson helped me, even if just the slightest, to feel that I can speak in front of the group, my classmates without too much fear. For me this becomes a good first stepping stone to improving my future public speaking (I’ve held lectures and speeches in the past).
It could be very easy to attempt to avoid certain exercises because I would tell myself that I don’t need them. The lesson really helped me enhance the feeling that I will continue going in head first to these lessons to keep improving my speech capabilities.
Today’s lesson was focused on breathing and trying to make sound come out of us. Focusing your breath, feeling where the sound came from and where it ended up. Which muscles do we use, and what difference does it make for how sound come out.
We received a vocal warm up exercise sheet which we should aim to do a few times a week.
In class today I almost started crying, I had to face fears about my voice that I never got help with confronting when I was younger. I used to be in various choirs, and on occasion they would tell us that we need to feel it in the stomach, I never did and no one ever helped me with it. The exercises and information we went through today definitely helped me face that fear, and was much more rewarding than any song teacher or choir I’ve ever been in. It strengthens me that I got to face this fear today, and it encourages me to keep working towards becoming a better public speaker.
I definitely still find a weakness in my own fears, but I see myself working through them each and every lesson we have.
My own ultimate goal is still to just generally become a better speaker, be able to talk so people can hear me, and hopefully listen. These lessons are definitely one step in the right direction, and it reminded me about a lot of other exercises that are generally good for body knowledge. Partly I need to work on more exercises like the warm ups, and feel “it” in my stomach, and partly I need to work to fight my own fears.
Todays class had two big focuses. After having had a lecture, which covered a lot of breathing / vocal warm up as well as the rhetoric aspect of speech and to some extent drama, we continued with a few extra breathing exercises. The “elevator” breathing exercise had a huge focus on relaxing. For me most of these exercises come with a lot of tension, and fears. Most of it is irrational, I know that, and I have yet to figure out where all of it stems from, but each time I fight it I am getting a bit closer towards the answers that I need to develop further. The elevator made me relax my face (especially) so much that it caused both aches and nausea. This is due to that I’m always so tense so when I finally relax it makes me sick. In turn that makes it harder for me to actually engage in these types of exercises. I know that for the future these breathing exercises, even if I won’t use all of them, will come in handy. Similar to what I’m experiencing with all the years of different types of therapy, there’s lessons from all of it that I draw upon once in a while. The most important thing for me right now however is to get a lot more comfortable with it.
Before the breathing exercise we were shown a few exercises we can use to make it easier for us to memorize and work with our lines for the Dramatic reading. By using physical movement and activities together with reading the lines we’ll easier bind the lines of text into our head, rather than just walking back and forth, or worse sitting down in the sofa.
I do know that I will need all the help I can get with memorizing my lines, but right now I feel very confident that I will manage to remember them.
Today we worked on emphasis as a means to learn a text. In this case we chose words referring to one or more people, or in some cases an important object to the story to emphasise. Using the technique we learned to dissect a text and figure out what we were actually saying. Who is this “they” referring to? The women we just talked about or the men? Were the living people referring to women as well, as was the remains after the men’s actions.
When speaking a part, or any text you need to know what you’re saying, not only learning the words.
Speaking loudly and clearly, to be overheard while others next to you are also speaking. Grouped together with one other person having the to keep eye contact in order to make it easier to hear.
Articulation. Good deep breath.
We walked around in the room, all of us reading lines at the same time attempting to out speak the others, by being clear and articulate.
I learned that I’ve got a good base to build on, but I can definitely improve my articulation. I will do a worse job while I’m tired, exhausted or stressed. I’ll be out of breath before it starts under those circumstances.
This was the only rehearsal I made it to. It was a chance for us to perform the whole thing in front of someone, and be accountable for it. No messing around. This made all the difference. When it’s only the group working together a lot of giggling and silliness will occur, often more than once per run through of the play.
The weeks leading up to this I’ve been under a lot of stress, and I realized that the more stressed out I am the harder it is for me to remember my lines. Lines that had previously been fully in my head were now slowly falling away from memory. Luckily I could make the best out of having the play in my hands.
We finally reached the day of the performance. Even if I had yet to learn all the lines, due to a lot of stress, I figured out how to improve that area for the future. I ended up mostly rehearsing the lines during the sessions we had with the group, rather than reading them through over and over trying to repeat them without the paper at home, which was something I should have done to make them stick. I did do that in the beginning with Scene 10, and it stuck since then, those were the parts I knew the best. Even if it can sound obvious, it is something I learned and that I will have to keep reminding myself about.
Through the course I’ve learned that picking a piece of text apart, if you have the time, is a good tool. Figuring out what each piece is referring to, what it means and who it’s directed to. In this case you also got some space to play around with it, use the “Who Am I Speaking To” as a part of your performance.
I learned that getting outside of your comfort zone with a bit of drama can help you a lot in the future. Now I am less afraid, even if I will shake like a leaf, to take on and get up on a stage to talk in front of people or read something highly personal (like we ended up doing in the Personal Life Writing lecture later the same week as the performance).
When you pick apart a text there’s nuances you’ll find that might be missed otherwise. A piece of the text which is referring to the same object over and over, will get more meaning if you look over what it is trying to say. When it has more meaning to you it will be easier for you to express that meaning while reading it aloud. Much similar to the one line about “the point” read by S- B in my group.
Take the time to breath, I knew this since before and with the performance I got the time to re use it. If you plan your text properly you can of course use breathing and artistic pauses to help you get through your nervousness, or in my case you will just have to make due with what you got and add them in as you go and make it work.
As a whole this class has given me increased confidence in myself, and the fact that I can make myself heard if I need to thanks to some of the exercises. I know now how to prepare and plan for any presentation to make it more successful than in the past.
Thank you -.