Do what I mean, not what I say! 

By  Lysette Offley

Do what I mean, not what I say - photo of theatre curtainsSo there I am, a newbie,  surrounded by old hands in the Green Room of the Kenton Theatre, Henley-on-Thames. My first rehearsal. My first show.

I’d been cast in one of the lead roles and I was terrified of letting the others down . I was okay with the singing but what did I know about acting?

And there she was, the director, giving me instructions, attempting to direct me: “Walk on stage, stop in your tracks, point at the clock and deliver your lines.”

So, in front of all the other actors, I had a go at what she asked.

“No, not like that. Walk on stage, stop in your tracks, point at the clock and deliver your lines.”

Mortified, I tried again.

“No, no, nooo. Walk on stage, stop in your tracks, point at the clock and deliver your lines.”

And in that moment – I learnt something!

If someone doesn’t understand what you mean, it’s no good repeating yourself. You have to convey information in a different way for them.

We all process, store and retrieve information differently. No two people handle information in exactly the same way.

My director knew exactly what she wanted. And she used exactly the words that she would need if I were directing her!

After several more failed attempts, exasperated, she stomped onto the stage, stopped abruptly, pointed towards the curtain rail on the back wall of the Green Room and delivered my lines.

Bingo !

Now I could see exactly how she moved, exactly how she wanted me to be.

That’s all I needed!

I imitated her to the best of my ability and was relieved when she said, “Exactly! That’s what I asked you to do in the first place!”

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Lysette Offley

Genius Maker & Founder of Genius Material and The Genius Principles. Working with professionals who need exceptional academic & professional development.

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