Skill, Behaviorism, Learning, Drama, Voice

I am a behaviorist. A playwright must be a behaviorist. Drama focuses on action. Thought must be “outed”. Description must be detailed in the technicals. Theme, philosophy, meaning must be converted to the phenomena of character and plot, the dialog. The effect must convert a collection of individuals into a uniform behavioral outcome. The totality is an exhibit in the museum of human behavior. The recipe then gathers dust until its next incarnation.

We need to hear (take a deep breath): a good voice speaking in conflict with an adversary words that resonate great ideas set in poetic devices to make ideas memorable to an audience eager to hear what may transform them into better human beings through understanding of the ways of resolving life’s important conflicts. (Whew! I stuffed that trunk full!) The drama form serves that aim very well. And that is the province of rhetoric.

I am a behaviorist. As a teacher, I wrote goals for behavioral outcomes of learning experience. Ethics, speaking, writing, and listening are behavioral skills. (Write the last act first.) The meaning of life resides in what you “do” with it. (That’s in the Oly play.) I need to understand the grammar of everything. That is fundamental. For instance:

What is the fundamental math skill? For nearly everyone in everyday life, the foundation should be “probability”, or statistical reasoning. They do not teach that.

What is the fundamental history skill? They teach the facts of history without teaching how historical facts are generated. For nearly everyone, assigning the writing of a family history, picking the brains of the elders while they are still alive would teach the basis of history.

What is the most fundamental skill of all? It’s nutrition. We are all amateur eaters where we should be professional eaters. They do not teach that. And what’s the fundamental fitness skill? You answer that one. I say, be a self starter, with one principle in mind, discipline. And so it goes.

About learning. Give my mind a problem, and I have enjoyed, after some strenuous effort, some good outcomes. That’s fun. If it hurts, you are in the throes of learning. Learning is change, the destruction of old habits and creation or substitution of new ones. “Stop that!” is not constructive. “Do this!” is. Change destroys confidence. You are motivated to believe that the new level of behaving will improve on the old comfortable way of doing things. You experience what Gerald Heard called egression into a new state of consciousness. You have evolved in the only way that humans can evolve. Having learned gives satisfaction.

Here’s a basic communication skill. Since I love the drama form of entertainment, I love reading aloud with old fashioned, shameless bravura. (I can be had.) I don’t know if I am good or just another Florence Foster Jenkins. I would like to narrate an evening, Hallowe’en ballet program where I read Riley’s “Little Orphan Annie comes to our house to stay…”, Carroll’s Jabberwocky, Poe, and others.

The awareness of voice for the multitude is minimal to non-existent. (Except for extreme makeovers, in which the voice is being operated on to make it not incongruous with the youthful appearance.) The television and movie technologies have a retrograde effect through the electronically assisted voice when needed for the live, public voice for the stage. Body mikes? What the hell! What speaker at the rostrum would eschew the microphone? Not one. And do they know how to handle the mike? Most will stoop to it. Even actors at the awards ceremonies who depend on the boom man for that. Many actors have lost it for the stage. I taught voice and articulation. Actor’s voices are not as beautiful in quality nor as strong as they need to be. Loud, impassioned lines too often sound shouted, a high-pitched, strident, broken, cracking, rough screech. The tools, the instruments are not there any longer. “I am old, Father William.”


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One Comment

  1. Do you do all your own writing? Or do you outsource some of it?
    I’m searching for some similar content for my blog! Those are great posts!
    [JFD: All mine!]

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