Empathy is everything…

Not having it.
I remember once seeing a performance of ‘Henry V’ . There was one particular actor whose presence would command your attention. His every word would have you holding your breathe for more. Unfortunately he wasn’t playing the lead role. The guy who did play Henry just didn’t have that same quality. Thus he was unable to hold the attention of the audience for very long. This was rather unfortunate in a Shakespeare play where long speeches are the norm. I could hear the audience coughing and fidgeting while the poor fellow ploughed through Henry’s monologues. His ‘lack of presence’ meant I couldn’t empathise with the character he was playing. Empathy is everything. In fact empathy creates suspense. When the audience relates to the character, it shares his emotions. It feels his frustrations, his fear, his joy. That’s why Happy Endings make you feel so good. Your empathy with the characters meant you underwent the same transformations as they did. You struggled with them, laughed and cried with them too, and then, when the characters resolves his problems and is finally fulfilled, you too feel liberated.

If you are a speaker then having a strong stage presence will help you create a stage persona that the audience can easily empathise with. Or if, you are an actor, it helps them empathise with the character you’re playing. All this will help you get your message across. Yep. It’s not just entertainment, as a speaker or playwright you will be giving the audience your message, either on a conscious level or subliminally, and you’ve got to hit the mark. You’ve got to create a balance between what you want to say and what the audience wants to hear.

“The Many-Headed Monster Of The Pit.”
A very famous director once called the audience the ‘Many-headed Monster of the Pit.” And when you’re standing on the stage it can certainly feel like that. It’s there watching you, absorbing everything you do and say. A black pit is great for plays where there is no direct communication between the actors and audience. But if you are a speaker it’s much easier to create a rapport with your audience if you can see them, so keep the house-lights on. However daunting the thought of all those faces looking up at you might seem at first – it’s so much easier than talking into a black void.

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