Thomas Doty – Storyteller
A Native View
Where Life Lessons and Stories Meet
Here's a crossroads I visited recently....
In storytelling, gestures are as powerful as words. Some performers use them to conduct the rhythm of their sentences or to emphasize certain points. But the sensitive artist reaches deeper and uses gestures to dramatize and interpret the many-layered truths in a story. They are not simply footnotes to speech. They are the visual manifestations of the essence of the story. When the timing and intent of gestures match, the result is powerful. When the artist is a master, the gestures are not only seen but also felt, and they find their way into the heart of each member of the audience. One should choose each gesture as carefully as one chooses each word of each story ... just at the right moment and for an audience who is fully ready to receive the magic.
I recently had a lesson in gestures as they live in my real-life story. I choreographed my gestures carefully, using all my artistic skills to conceive them, give them beauty and bring them to life. The accompanying words were loving and magical and genuine. But I allowed myself to be carried away with the intent. Though I had noticed my audience might not be ready for either the words or the gestures, I plowed ahead anyway, convinced that my passion would impress my audience to such a degree that everyone would be drawn into the world of my story. As a result of not paying attention, the timing was all wrong and my intended purpose never had a chance.
As I walk my path to the next crossroads, I contemplate my life and my art. Both fit inside my satchel and they travel well together. They are good friends to me and to each other. They are happiest when I take them out, let them breathe and give them the attention they require to thrive. Inside the stories of each are the truths, with words and gestures, timing and intent. All the lessons are there for how to tell a story and how to live my life. After all, the best stories have their origins in the experiences of our lives. Deep inside each story is the right gesture for the right audience at just the right moment.
– July, 2005
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