The Art of Surrendering

By Antonia Rocha, STF 2017 Coaching Session Leader

Storytelling and mime are, and must always be, lifelong partners.

I am not talking about the mime wall or blowing up a balloon. I am talking about physical eloquence. Your body is there on stage before – way before – you say “once upon a time”.  It is the first thing you present to the audience.

Once the story starts, your body should belong to the story. It should be the foundation for the needs of your telling. If your body is not in sync with the story, then there is a contradiction that interferes with your story. If you are telling a story and you are self conscious, touching your hair repeatedly, straightening your jacket, bringing attention to how well you just performed a sound effect, then you are not in sync. Your story will suffer.

So, how does one sync body language to verbal language? One must surrender.

Just look at yourself on a moment to moment basis as you go through your day. You

surrender to each moment that unfolds before and around you. You get excited about something and your body gets taller and wider. Your tone of voice goes up and life becomes bubbly. Then you get a phone call. It’s bad news. Your bubbly self disappears. You slow down. The news sinks in and your heart beats faster. Disappointment or maybe anger sets in and a whole new set of hormones gets released, causing your muscles to tense up and your voice to tighten. You are one with the moment. Your body is the truth. Your body is connected to the essence of your feelings… to the subtext.

As you can see, you must become an observer at every moment. That is your homework for ever and ever more. You must observe how you and others react to things. You must create that third eye, the eye of the observer. Watch yourself and others carefully. Be aware of everything around you, from passing people to a leaf falling from a tree. Time spent waiting in an airport will never be boring to you ever again. The opportunities for observation surround you everywhere.

When pretending to be an animal, just imitate three things about that animal. It is humanly impossible to become the whole animal. Three characteristics are enough to change your whole attitude.

For example: The chipmunk. If I were to portray a chipmunk – based on my observations of a real one – I would have rapid and short movements punctuated by sudden pauses. While eating, I would bring my fingertips to my lips, while wiggling my nose and lips and then pause and do it again. The pauses are for safety. The chipmunk is at the bottom of the food chain, so it must be vigilant at all times. Unlike a lion, it cannot relax in open air. So, the more you know, the more you can access when developing your stories.

Practice and good luck.

Interested in an in-depth coaching session to explore your whole instrument (body, voice, and mind) with  Antonio? Sign up to be one of two storytellers coached in his STF workshop from 1:30 to 3:00 on Saturday, March 25th. Visit the STF Conference Details page to register for the conference.


Have personal experience of your own to share on this topic? Leave a comment.

Antonio Rocha, a native of Brazil, began his career in the performing arts in 1985. In 1988 he received a Partners of the Americas grant to come to the USA to perform and deepen his mime skills with Mime Master Tony Montanaro. Since then he has earned a Summa Cum Laude Theater BA from USM (University of Southern Maine) and studied with Master Marcel Marceau. Mr. Rocha’s unique solo shows of stories and mime have been performed from Singapore to Hawaii and many places in between including 16 countries on 6 continents.


The Art of Surrendering — 4 Comments

  1. Hello Antonio,

    Thank you for a wonderful post, filled with insight.

    I was working with my storytelling students yesterday and talking about this very same subject. You said it so eloquently. I will share your piece with them next week.

    With deep appreciation,
    Karen Chace

  2. Wonderful Antonio. So true, so true. (I remember becoming chipmunks and lions with Tony at the Barn. Ah yes – back in our formative years.) I’ll share this with my True Tales Live group.
    Thank you.

  3. Hello Antonio,
    Thank you for sharing this very valuable post. It will make me rethink many of my animal tales. I will be having some fun!
    Thank you,
    Janet Glantz

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