Aesthetics: Communication without Words

It’s been a busy summer so far with performances in at least three styles (contemporary, vaudeville & renaissance work) and it got me thinking about how important the artistic choices you make in selection of costume, props, equipment, scenery and personal grooming are in helping audiences “get” your performance. Art is about choices; the decisions you make when you define your act can either help audiences or detract from your performance.

Defining your act’s aesthetic and viewing all of your decisions through the lens of that aesthetic is an important exercise that every performer can benefit from. As the creator of an act, any choices you don’t make are left up to interpretation by the individual audience member. Unintended or unclear actions, props, costumes, etc. may cause them disengage at the moment you need them to be most involved.

Take a look at your show and create a history and relationship to every tangible piece of equipment. Spend time trying to justify the equipment in the world of your act. Ruthlessly eliminate items that have no justification or solid, defined relationship to your character or the world in which you travel. Modify existing props or create/locate new ones that fit in with what are trying to communicate. You don’t need to explain every relationship to your audiences, but having one will help to communicate consistency and confidence while minimizing distractions or “disconnects” by your audience.

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