Words are the oldest means and way of expression. They are used to convey communication between humans. Words are not felt until they are spoken for the listener to comprehend what exactly is being said, therefore when words are let out in anger, love, frustration, joyfully, etc; they’ll either mar or make, build or destroy, comfort or annoy someone or something. Choice of word spoken matters a lot to the listener and how the listener perceives these words.

Since we are merely focused on the artistic aspect and the use of words, we are to settle in our hearts that words are used to describe (description/descriptive); to tell stories, folktales, used in poetry, prose, drama etc. This cannot be overlooked; we use words every day. It is inevitable or rather unavoidable. Therefore, the lack of speaking words sometimes means dumbness; the lack of reading words can mean blindness and the lack of experiencing this sometimes means death. Every human experiences the use of words in one way or the other; writing, speaking and feeling words with the fingers (brail for the blind).

As poets, we are to use the right words to paint vivid pictures in the minds of our readers or audience. We are to use very similar words that appeals to the sense of smell, taste, and touch, words that knit together great imagery in the minds of the audience, words that can summon the audience into a journey of words spoken. These words can either make them cry, laugh or ecstatic with exclamations or even snap their fingers; for example, Bassey Ikpi’s ‘Homeward’, Ashaheed and Ayinde Russell’s ‘Amand’la’, Graciano’s ‘Twelve Million Nonsense’, Tobore’s ‘Dare to Dream’, Vicadex’s ‘Men Not God’s’, Samurai’s ‘Ant Race’ and several others that come to mind. If you remember or have watched these performances either on live stage or video or listened, you’d notice the ample use of imageries clear to the sensibilities and the use of the various parts of the body fully expressing and luring the audience to take a journey with them to see their words a described.

Now to settle for our topic, we are to see how words alongside body movement can be felt in the way these words describe situations, with the ample use of imagery in delivery. Many centuries ago, it has been shown that poets, otherwise known in the 5th Century B.C Greece as Thespians- Actors (The name was derived from the first ever recorded stage actor- Thespis) carry out their performances with great body movement (jumps, squats, quick steps, etc.) Here poets are actors and they involved a lot of practice to their stage actions, to further express their words. Although their original facial expressions were not seen because of the use of masks (That was later changed), they made sure that the ample use of the other parts of their body was never separated from their words and actions. These specific movements were also evident in the Roman, Italian, Elizabethan, Asian and the African Theatres. No performer, whether a poet, singer, choreographer lost touch with the use of the body. Their actions were properly coordinated and always in some form of synchronic pattern. For example, the performer may lift his hands and brings it towards the forehead to salute when the prompt of a line says, “I salute the heroes on this great nation…” These kinds of gestures and expressions add credit to their performance.

As poets, we are actors who are expected to own the stage. A stage can be anywhere; whether high platform or low platform, a stage is a stage. For example, a woman in the kitchen is an actor. The ingredients, utensils, gas burner, plates, spoons, etc. are all her props for preparing a superior performance (food). She had rehearsed several times back stage before bringing it to the table to serve her guests (audience), so however the food tastes determine the comments of the eaters. This is how all performers are, some will enjoy the performance, while some other will aptly criticize, especially the choice of words (language, words pronunciation, etc.)

The human body is designed in a way that all the joints and nerves are meant to function in ways that they can bend and send signals to function properly, therefore as creative artists, we are expected to make ample use of our body and facial expressions while on stage. This aspect can never be separated from the theatre practioner or performer, more so the dancer who cannot do without body movement. As poets, we are expected to also settle in our hearts that we cannot do without these vital aspects; either the use of both hands, face, eyes, legs, etc. we must include into our performances the concept of structure, otherwise, our act on stage will be unappealing to the audience, and that will be recorded in their memory as a substandard performance, so in order to get the audience pulled in to each performance, there has to be some form of body movement. Remember that the body is a vessel that has energy (Intensity of performing), space (this refers to our peripheral space), time (having the sense of stimulus) and flow (Flexibility in movement). As a performing artist, you have total control of your body while on stage.

Finally, performing and connecting the use of the body is not complete if the voice is not included, except for performances done in mimesis style (Performing without words). Your voice is the strongest part for conveying your message to your audience. When in rehearsal mode, it is expected of the performer to make the voice projectable (not shouting, but speaking with power, airflow from the diaphragm); if this is not properly attended to, the performer’s voice will become jittery. Voice exercises are always best for each reading or voicing. Once the performer gains control of their voice, they can speak with power, conveying their message using their hands, feet, etc. We will further review this vital part in our next lecture. Thank you for your time.


Lecturer: Neofloetry

Platform: The Poetry Court WhatsApp Group