“When in doubt, question your delivery.”

1374155320_stretch“When in doubt, question your delivery.”
Rob Bartlett, the famous comedian, gave me this advice when I first became a headlining standup comic. This advice has been very useful to me as a solo artist as well. And I give it to others all the time.
For the past month, Stage Left has been the host to a number of solo shows, many of them brand new works. Between their first and second performance, many of the performers tweaked the text of the play. Many of them simply tweaked the performance. Those in the second category may have discovered that their whole attitude about the pieces changed, dramatically, simply from changing their delivery. This is what Rob was talking about.
Your approach to your material is crucial. A shift of emphasis, of mood, of pronunciation, will affect how it lands, on the audience and on you. So, if you think something is missing in your play, don’t jump straight into the text and start adding things. See what you have that can be altered.
Here are a few tips.
Character – were you fully invested? How did your body feel when you were different characters? Focus on your feet, your hands, your head. Did you play with their energy? Gary Austin, the brilliant improvisation coach, always told us to make alterations in our rhythm, volume and pace.
Speech – can you find a new way to say things? “Play with  the sound.” This is a Carol Fox Prescott phrase. . It’s a well-known fact that consonants carry rhythm. They punctuate phrases. Vowels carry emotion. Think of the Shakespearean “O”. Did you do all you could with your words? Did your important words get enough emphasis? There are a million ways you can change the way you say things. Before you change what you say, try changing how you said it.
Order – Are there small shifts in sentence structure that will improve the rhythm? Rhythm is extremely important in terms of how your material affects the audience. Put your most important word last. Try it first. Break long sentences into two smaller ones.
Remember, your delivery is almost more important than what you wrote. Play with it before you disassemble your show.

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