Friday, October 25, 2013

The Use of the Body in the Performance of Proclamation

Chapter 7, Todd Farley, “The Use of the Body in the Performance of Proclamation” pp. 117-138

Todd Farley is a mime and a Christian who trains preachers in presentation skills. He considers it very important that a preacher’s body motions be meaningful, purposeful, and communicate the preacher’s intent. On p. 118 he quotes Martin Luther endorsing the bodily reflection of the genuine message. He then quotes John Wesley endorsing the preacher making physicality purposeful so as to appear natural yet be managed. Farley seems of the opinion that the two were saying the same thing. In fact, while Luther endorsed allowing motion to reflect the message, Wesley took motion to be a purposeful way of manipulating the message. Farley pursues this idea, which strikes me as very disingenuous. By strategic use of motion the performer makes the audience think certain things. He then launches into a discussion of classical notions of gesture and movement, adding occasional Bible verses for illustration.

While our motions say a great deal to the congregation we are ill advised to consider what we do as a performance o the congregation as an audience. Such attitudes can create distrust and eventually prove self-defeating.

On a side note, Farley refers to the lectern as a podium. You stand on a podium. You stand behind a lectern. Never put your hands on a podium!

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