According to film maker Alfred Hitchcock (1980), a good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it. Films, musicals, dramas and theatre performances are all considered art and people will usually pay for watching an art performance. With the price attached to the performance, there will definitely be a difference between language in purposely crafted performance and language used every day although the script for both is the same. The crafted performance language is more audience-centered and contains features like including significant emphases in the speech, presenting attention-grabbing incident first and few hesitations in speech and these maintains the interest of the audience.
The money and time one fork out to watch a performance is definitely worth it when the performance brings out ‘life’ from his or her favourite novel. Consider the popular novel or story “The phantom of the opera”. Would you prefer reading the book or watching it staged at the esplanade theatre? I believe everyone would prefer to watch the novel being staged if given a chance. There are significant differences between stories as written text and stories as performance. The effects created by the actors in the musical using volume to build up excitement, giving stress to certain important words and speaking certain phrases in rhythm will inevitably evoke feelings of the audience, feelings that probably cannot be evoked by merely reading the same written script.
One of the most significant differences between everyday language and crafted performance is the changed orders in which incidents are narrated. According to Jeffries (2007), the fabula, the basic chronology of events, is like a skeleton given a body and life by the way the shjuzhet is used to explore the relationships between characters, and the intricacies of the plot. In everyday language, one narrates the incident or experience using usually only the Fabula. In crafted performance, there is more use of the Shjuzhet, which may include significant emphases, omissions, inferences and flashbacks. For example, in the rework of Mundy’s spoken wartime experiences by Bradstock, the way the events are presented to the listener is not according to the logical order of the actual events.
By including significant emphases and laying the appropriate foregrounding, in this case the award medal being told first, it captures the attention of the audience and keeps them engaged throughout the whole performance as the series of events which lead to the award medal unfolds. In Mundy’s wartime recount, he did talk about the medal achievement but that was told towards the end, which is in a logical order, using the fabula manner. The use of shjuzhet is possible in a crafted performance because there is time for the performer to think about how to present the performance so that it will be the most engaging. However, using of shjuzhet is not very possible in spontaneous everyday language because one usually speaks just for the sake of communicating certain incidents or experiences and it is done without rehearsals. Therefore, we can say that the use of shjuzhet in a crafted performance makes the performance interesting and engaging, making the trip down to the theatre a fulfilling and worthy one for the audience.
Since there are more time for the performer to rehearse the crafted performance, the will surely be lesser pauses and hesitations compared to everyday language. In Mundy’s speech, there are a lot of “er” and “erm” as he stops occasionally to recall his experience whilst in Bradstock’s purposely crafted performance, there were no hesitations. The structure of speech is also different from everyday language. For example, in the wartime recount speech clip, Mundy’s speech took a longer time than Bradstock’s. There are a few incidents which Mundy repeated. For example the stripping of the gun. Mundy was talking without giving a sense of direction to the audience on where he was going to but Bradstock’s speech was more structured in the sense that the incidents were linked and each subsequent sentence explains the former sentence. We can conclude that purposely crafted performance is more audience-centered as the performers selects appropriate incidents to include in the speech and structure the speech to make it easier for the audience to understand, thus making it interesting and engaging.
Apart from having many differences from everyday language, spoken crafted performance language is also different from written texts. Spoken language, coupled with certain rhetorical devices, brings out life in a written text. One device is the stress on certain word. In the video clip of Jan Blake performing a story, she stresses on certain words which in turns makes the reader understand the mood or feelings of the character. For example, “I am supposed to have fur, and I am supposed to have fat”.
The words supposed, fur and fat are given additional stress. It tells the audience that the character is not ashamed to have fat and fur. Jan Blake also paces her speech and increases the volume of her voice in certain phrases. Certain words are read quickly and loudly to create an anxious feeling. For example: “Brer tiger, brer tiger, brer tiger, brer tiger!” from the second paragraph of the performance transcript. The physical appearance of a story teller also plays a part. Her non-verbal gestures help the audience to visualize the character or environment of the story. For example, she uses her hands to make the shape of a shade when she is reading “under the shade of a banana tree”.
In conclusion, crafted performance contain features like including significant emphases in the speech, presenting attention-grabbing incident first and few hesitations in speech and these maintains the interest of the audience. Crafted performance also contains rhetorical devices like using stress, pacing and volume on certain phrases and non-verbal gestures. These are all tools that an actor or story-teller uses to make the story come to life, making the performance interesting and worth our money and time to watch or listen to.
“Quote by Alfred Hitchcock”. Brainymedia (2010). Retrieved 29 March 2010 from ;http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/theatre.html;
Jeffries, Lesley. (2007). Redesigning English. Routledge. Abingdon, U.K.
“Hawtin Mundy and Brad Bradstock wartime recount”. (2008). ELG251 Learning English, ELG253 Redesigning English. DVD rom. SIM University.
“Storytelling: Jan Blake”. (2008). ELG251 Learning English, ELG253 Redesigning English. DVD rom. SIM University.