Thursday, February 4, 2010
art of the DECLAMATION___________________
1) Write a short and sweet declamation.
2) Practice it a couple of times. (Explore variations in tonality and gesture.)
3) Write it here as a comment AND bring it with you to the next class.
In ancient Greece, the declamation was believed to play an essential role in "Rhetorical Pedagogy." It formed part of a set of exercises intended to prepare students of rhetoric for the creation and performance of complete practice orations.
One famous declamation begins with the words:
"VENGEANCE IS NOT OURS, IT'S GOD'S."
-Paul, the book of Romans, New Testament Bible.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, when performance artists adopted the declamation for their own purposes, it wasn't in order to demonstrate verbal mastery. Quite the opposite. That said, communicating absurdity, humor and satire through such a form often depends on context as much as on content. (Imagine a frustrated plumber uttering Paul's phrase as a question while he uses a plunger.)
Instead, performance artists have often adopted the use of declamations to satirize, lampoon and expose things like the power and greed represented by mainstream bourgeois culture. We will talk more about its history next class. For now, each of you should come up with a brief declamation of your own, post it here and bring a version of it with you to next class.
_____________________Feel free to vent.
____________________________Embrace the obvious.
Here is a clip of some extemporaneous declamations made by Reverend Billy Talen and his gospel choir: