whether voluntary or involuntary the fundamental cause is the same the telegraphic message sent out to the muscles from the brain.

The entire problem of platform deportment, therefore, resolves itself into two fundamental considerations:

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I. Is the bodily action of the speaker the result of mental or emotional stimuli ?

II. Does the bodily action resulting from these stimuli look well and contribute to the general effectiveness of the speech?

A common misconception of high-school declaimers. In regard to the first consideration, it is obvious to anyone who has given careful attention to the matter of speech delivery that there is a great deal of action that is the result of no mental or emotional prompting whatever. The high-school boy, in preparing for a declamatory contest, says to his teacher, "Shall I bring my hand down so in this place, and shall I use this kind of gesture here?" He knows that it is customary for schoolboys to make some gestures when they are to deliver a speech, and he wants to find a good place to put some in. The teacher, who perhaps does not know good action from poor, will say, “Yes, I think that would look very well” — with the result that the boy's earnest desire to make some effective gestures to help out his speech finds expression in mere motions that are wholly mechanical and wooden. And so far as serving as an aid to the expression of anything that is in his mind they are useless. The attention of the audience is drawn from what the boy is trying to say to his crude attempts at gesture, and the speech becomes* less effective than as if he had attempted no gesture at

all. But unfortunately the boy does not know this and goes on developing a platform manner which, although entirely wrong, receives the admiration of fond parents and perhaps the praise of his teachers, until he believes himself to be a skilled speaker. In later years, when he comes to see how much in the wrong he has been, he finds that his speaking habits have become so firmly fixed that he experiences the greatest difficulty when he attempts to overcome them.

Inasmuch as this applies to the bad habits of voice that are formed during the high-school period as well as to bad habits of action, it gives strong emphasis to the need for correct instruction in public speaking in our high schools; that is, for instruction by competent teachers, who know the difference between good public speaking and bad elocution, and who can teach boys and girls to express their ideas effectively without any of the elocutionary flourishes that are an abomination to anyone who is attempting to learn how to speak. Far easier is it to make an effective speaker of one who has had neither training nor experience of any kind than to attempt to retrain the boy who has won a gold medal because he could rant.

The same fault true of public speakers. Likewise many adult speakers labor under the misconception that a great deal of oratorical display constitutes an effective speech. Their action upon the platform is mere dumb show. They gesticulate wildly but to no purpose, and the audience cannot refrain from asking why all this "sound and fury signifying nothing"? Action that is to count for anything must be the direct result of psychic

activity. The schoolboy who uses gestures that are wholly mechanical does so usually without thinking what he is saying, and punctuates his expression with mere motions, that mean nothing to him and are decidedly distracting to his hearers. The same is true of all others who use extravagant action but express no thought. The exhorters of some religious sects illustrate very well this type of speaking. They talk along aimlessly by the hour, not because there is any particular message to convey but because it is customary in their organization to consume a certain amount of time.

The remedy. There is only one way in which this fault can be overcome and that is by going to the very root of the difficulty. It is useless for the teacher to attempt to overcome it by any sort of mechanical directions or rules of action however elaborate. The only remedy is by stimulating the thought processes. If a boy speaks without thinking of what he is saying, it is of no use to tell him to use his body in one way or another. He must first of all have a mental awakening. He must be made to think intently upon what he is trying to express, to get a firm grasp of his subject, and then to use no gesture or action of any kind that does not come spontaneously from the mental impulses that call upon his muscles for expression as he tries to speak. Let him get this firm grasp of his subject and then, with the aid of a teacher who is able to direct him properly as to the right and wrong use of his body, he need have no fear of his gestures being meaningless. A strict observance of this single principle will go far toward making his platform manner both pleasing and effective.

The following anecdote is to the point:

When Voltaire was preparing a young actress to appear in one of his tragedies, he tied her hands to her sides with pack thread in order to check her tendency toward exuberant gesticulation. Under this condition of compulsory immobility she commenced to rehearse, and for some time she bore herself calmly enough; but at last, completely carried away by her feelings, she burst her bonds and flung up her arms. Alarmed at her supposed neglect of her instructions she began to apologize to the poet; he smilingly reassured her, however; the gesture was then admirable because it was irrepressible.

This incident illustrates very well our problem. So long as the actress was conscious of deliberately using gesture her action was undesirable. But the moment that there was an inner awakening due to the restraint that had been placed upon her, and her emotion began to call upon the muscles genuinely for expression, Voltaire was able to pronounce her gesture admirable because it was irrepressible.

It is clear, therefore, that mechanical action is the result of effect improperly related to cause. The first step, then, must necessarily be the establishing of the right cause and of so coördinating mind and muscles that all bodily action is the direct result of mental and emotional stimuli.

The second determining factor. In coming to our second consideration, Does the bodily action resulting from mental and emotional stimuli look well and contribute to the general effectiveness of the speech? we at once face the question, Are there any standards that will 1 Redway, The Actor's Art, p. 48.

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apply to all speakers by which we are to judge what action does or does not look well upon the platform? This can be answered only by inquiring into the real function of action in speaking. It will be apparent upon thought that the function of all good action is to serve as an aid in expression, not as an end in itself. The speaker's voice usually does a large share of the work, but in some instances the voice is not adequate. The speaker feels the need of something to assist the voice in expressing his ideas, so he uses action. By means of the voice he can give an emphatic stroke to a word or group of words, thus making the idea that they convey stand out prominently. But if he feels that the idea needs still greater emphasis than has been given it by the voice, he adds to it an emphatic gesture, making it doubly effective.

Yet this is only one of almost innumerable uses for which action may be employed. Perhaps the speaker wants to describe some scene that is full of life and color in a way that will enable his hearers to see it vividly as he himself sees it; then action becomes an invaluable aid. Nor is action by any means confined to gesture. Bodily movements without number may have an incalculable effect upon an audience. Suppose the speaker desires to express a feeling of scorn or contempt that is burning within him. His words may convey much, but a single quick movement upon the platform, the assuming of a haughty attitude, or the stamp of his foot may send a thrill through his audience that words alone could not express. So while gesture is most desirable as an aid to expression, it is decidedly objectionable when it becomes an end.

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