How do you access narrative?

Ruth Zaporah posed this question
to some Action Theater practitioners in May 2021.

RZ PAstel
Pastel drawing by Ruth Zaporahl

Here's a collection of their written responses.

Mostly when I start in neutral, in body sensation there might occur movement or visual images. So I pick some detail of it and add sound or words. That is a starting point of an exploration. I'm kind of diving in words and sounds. The movement of producing words is keeping me going, eyes help me to keep alert, the rhythm of the syllables help to lead structure, to follow the flow makes myself surprise what words occur, to follow the flow helps to let images pass away/touch and let go, pauses help to listen and sense the content and feeling state.
 Another one: once started the first word it's like a Ping Pong Play of the body producing and sensing words, the ears hearing and listening to the words, the mind realising "meaning" and content, the child making and dancing the music, the dancing inviting the surprising fairies and threatening the beast of controlling mind and meaning stuff. To start with the first word is like letting it happen, it might be something I've heard, I have matched to in rhyme (sound or word), it might be rising of a feeling state, an image, or it just happens by accident of movement of the voice body.
 Using language often forces courage from me. I feel more exposed than by using movement and sound only. So I really have to be anchored in body sensation and keep myself coming back to it. If I do so I'm quite surprised by the words. And I'm quite busy keep the courage to stay with the flow and not to jump out of the train. So it becomes very interesting, because I don't know what will happen. And it is very fragile.
-Marion Becker

This is what I wish for.
 It starts with a dropping down, an anchoring in the body, in the body of a sound.
 I follow the shape and texture of that sound into a mood which then sparks some kind of a state of being, a memory, a story, a physical relationship to the space around me, and a time feel, a rhythm, a connection between each blossoming word/sound.
 If all goes well, I become fascinated with the discovery of each new word/sound without getting hung up on the whole, on the idea, on it making any sense and each new word/sound uncovers a landscape that I've never entered before.
-Sarah Bild

It is difficult for me to say exactly how I access narrative since I am not able to think about it while accessing. I am only able to reflect afterwards and rely on my memory to determine where the inspiration came from.
  There are multiple avenues by which I think I access narrative. As those who came before have said, I am sometimes inspired by something I sense in my immediate surroundings. This can remind me of a memory which can provide inspiration for a narrative. Once the ball is rolling a word, or the quality of my voice or shape of my body can trigger a different memory that will initiate a new narrative. These "memories" can come from my own experiences or from imagined circumstances. There are well worn paths to narrative, certain words and thoughts which seem to always be on the surface of my conscious mind which I try to avoid. My favorite avenue of access to narrative is a mystery. The unnamed. This occurs when I am in a state of ultimate receptivity and relaxation, when I am able to trust that the faeries will guide me to where I need to go. I think this is the nameless "spark" that Alexis referred to. It is in this state that I believe I am able to access an infinite bank of narrative which transcends space and time. Tap into a collective consciousness. I am not sure if this is real or imagined and I don't care to find out. What I enjoy most about this work is discovering something new and surprising. It is in this magical faerie land state that I am continually surprised and amazed.
-Wil Carpenter

I think I access narrative in 2 ways - the shape of my mouth/sounds that emerge and the quality/shape/dynamic/tension/ rhythm/inner landscape of the physical body - I feel like a situation, a character, a feeling, a word, a frame, a POV, a rhythm, or an image pops's not a specific image of character, maybe it's an archetype? Sometimes it's an element or quality of something....expensive, fiery, taught, frustrated....
 The eyes help. Pause helps. Specificity helps...when I can access these things!
 I was improvising in class today and grabbed the bottom of my shirt, which made me feel shy or sheepish maybe or excited and like I was sharing a secret or something I was excited about...which turned out to be the wish to sing opera for the conductor...where did that come from? Watching too many old films? I definitely feel that the more I read, see, watch, and absorb in life, the more I can pull from...but what was I pulling from there? Maybe the archetype of the actress? The open window I was improvising in front of? The fact that we were performing for the class?
-Stacey Cervellino

I start by listening, getting quiet. Something comes to me. Maybe a whisper from far off or a spark of a memory or an itching at the back of my brain. Usually it's not a visual image, but it could be. Often it's a feeling of an impulse and I follow that impulse "down the trail" which goes more into sensing the vibration of the words. And as words come together and form sentences there's a sort of circular dance between sensing, experiencing, observing and creating. It feels very different from moving from sensation and creating movement. But maybe they are not so different and I just need more practice with narrative...and listening to the words.
-Maryanne Chaney

1. pray. 2. if time, breathe in and try to drop energy down from chest and throat to belly. 3. Form a sound with my mouth and blurt it out as a word. 4. Follow where the first sound/word leads, allow the imagination to blossom, trying to focus on the sound and rhythm of the words. Try not to stare fixedly, but keep the eyes active so the narrative stays alive in the moment. Overall, try to delight in the experience of speaking and not knowing where I'm going.
-Rachel Cohen

I'm a trained journalist who works in institutional communications (currently at a major public university). Things like executive communications, websites, funding proposals, speeches. I have spent decades wading through mountains of complex information and distilling it into short, clear, snappy, and often positive or persuasive narratives. So while improvisational movement comes more naturally to me, improvisational narrative does not.
 I usually start with what is. What I can see, experience, touch, smell, etc. What is tangible and knowable. What can be recreated in descriptive detail. I sometimes slip into imaginative places, but I don't really know how to get there easily, unless I have a specific goal (e.g., making up a fairy story for a child). Weird noises/voices/faces come much more easily than story. And I struggle a lot these days with finding joy and playfulness, an obstacle to imagination. Thank you, pandemic.
 I'm also extremely attuned to and motivated by what's happening in the room with my playmates. YOU are a great source of inspiration, and it's much harder to feel that from our tiny, flat zoom squares. Really hope we can be in a room together some day!
-Amy Cranch

How do I access narrative/words?
 I notice and respond to invitations from the faeries that arise from my mind/body via these channels which, arguably, blur considerably.
    - perception: awareness (of something) through the senses
    - memory: stored information in the mind/body from experience, both short-term and long-term (conscious - episodic, semantic; unconscious - motor, priming)
    - imagination: conceiving/constructing information (sometimes I think of this as reverse engineering of the first two, but I'm not sure)
 My engineer makes compositional choices as to which invitations to follow, and how to follow them (also very blurry). Here is a very limited list:
    - haptic sensations within the self that shape and shift words
    - auditory sensations from the self that shape and shift the spoken music
    - response to vibrations from the environment that shape and shift words and/or music
    - perceived or remembered visual images with which I can engage
    - perceived or remembered non-visual memories with which I can engage
    - following threads of associations (which can feel like a roller coaster ride)
 Sometimes I do a little experiment and deconstruct and analyze a very short improvisation and try to identify how it originated and how it was influenced - not to define answers, but to remind me of the vast universe of information the faeries provide (what showed up?) and to guess at how my engineer was operating (what happened?). This informs me and helps me notice some of my habitual patterns, what worked and what didn't, and to consider my choices.
-Michelle Renee Erard

Ninety percent of the time my narratives begin with a visual cue. I'll see a line, a shape, a color, a texture in my space or outside and that prompts the first word. It most often is not literal; if I see a firetruck, I don't start with that image but it often prompts the first cluster of words. I'm aware, after today's class of wanting to explore how my mouth and breath move as the springboard into narrative.
 But, Professor Zaporah, we did a solo session several weeks ago where I started the narrative with "popcorn." You stopped me and said "popcorn" wasn't an important enough word/topic. I started again with a much more potent word and created a narrative that was much more satisfying for me (and I think for you, the audience.) So in fact, is the engineer always in charge? And, if Mr. Jiffy (who invented Jiffy Pop) was in the audience, wouldn't he be enormously compelled by a narrative that began with popcorn?
-Jeff Ginsburg

My biggest breakthrough around narrative came when I remembered that I sometimes make up bedtime stories for my daughter. With those stories, I would start by saying "once upon a time" and then just state the first image that that popped into my head. I would then just keep stating the next image or idea that emerged like holding a foot out across an invisible bridge and trusting that it will take me someplace. Inevitably they would always surprise and delight me and often have deeper underlying wisdom. When I started approaching my narratives the same way, by letting one image lead to the next without questioning, it gave me another door to go through besides real memories which is where I tend to automatically go.
-Kindred Gottlieb-Gutierrez

How I Approach Narrative
 Cautiously and with curiosity, the way you come at a new lover… Hi, hey, what are you all about?
 With the aim of making the sounds and deciphering the sounds at the same time, as music.
 Attentive to the physical sensations of forming language, and also to the energetic tide that, hopefully, surprisingly, accompanies the text.
 The gift, the trick, is to allow for feelings that "undermine" or complicate or subtextualize the content.
 To allow for the possibility of being terrified by a monologue about mothers.
 Or enthralled by a narrative about model trains.
 I try to keep listening to the talker, as though the talker was body-wide, and also not me but someone; someone with something interesting to say if I listen well enough.
 I try also, truly, to hear a story I've never heard before at the same time I'm telling it, and to be open to receiving that story in spirit it rides.
 One of my favorite things to do is to set myself the task of making text - physicalized text - about a subject I think I know about, or at least know what I want to say about, and then to discover something totally new or unexpected through an embodied improvisation. That process has helped me to mine, or discover, the full text for five or six solo shows. I hope there are more words to come, in the form of music.
-Heather Harpham

Narrative. hmmm...maybe this is what I do, in a loose order
 1. nothing - every part of me is functioning but I'm not doing or monitoring anything in particular, all as physical including thoughts
 2. details illuminate sometimes become leaders, I don't identify nor name.
 3. details are specifically situated inside me. "illuminations'" durations are self-determining, can and do overlap in time.
 4. First words I think form from complementary internal pressures-release-extensions-contractions. I don't consciously process through my intellect-language centre.
 5 "first words" may be the first time in the improvisation that a word is audible but it always feels that the vast quantity of words, syllables, consonants, vowels are gestures that are always present, audible or not, similar to infinite combinations of muscle-bone gestures already existing (some I know well, not so well, not at all)
 6. "first words Form" Maybe Form is the leading aspect with narrative once the first sounds-to-words show up. Form and Syntax and Momentum. By momentum I don't mean fast or accumulated speed (time is much more deliciously complex) I mean continuous outpouring (or dripping oozing sloshing etc.) from energetic impulse-to-impulses inside.
 7. "meaning" hardly ever shows up as a motivator for me. Spoken language's inherent syntax is self-determining re: an audience perceiving meaning and they perceive language emanating from my whole person. The better I know a language the more it takes care of itself. Same with syntax of action-to-action, sensation-to-sensation, breath has syntax, etc. When as improvisor I am able to perceive the wholeness of their interactions - that wholeness has syntax.
 8. OK I think that by now Ruth will have called a stop, I have a few seconds to stop in all the languages that I know (5). Arret, berhenti, stamata don't lead, they cut, so all of me stops and so it's over.
-Maxine Heppner

For narrative - something has to happen or I notice something and then I have an image which I see. This stimulates the words.
 What happens? It could be a movement, a feeling in the body, an expression on my face, a tic, my breath, so many things. To access it, I have to create space and stillness by going inwards.
 The words come up from my diaphragm and out of my chest. Once I have an image, then word association, memories, sounds, metaphor, etc all start to tumble out.
 Or it may be that I see the images in real time movie and narrate live.
-Susan Hewitt

Breath. Quiet the brain. Listen. Tune into a river of sound and rhythm. Inside. Move the mouth and tongue to form vowels and consonants. Hear the words and phrases as they emerge. The mind adds its sensibility so what comes out is not just gobbledygook. Let the body move to the rhythm and shape of what you sense inside and hear outside. See the images as they take shape, as you hear the sound and rhythm of the language and stay tuned to the music inside too. Then see where the sounds, rhythms, words and images take you. Stay adventurous and curious, if possible.
 Narration feels like a collaboration - like dancing with a lively tango partner, or in a slow waltz, or playing a violin, flute and drum all at once in a very large orchestra. It is easy sometimes to get "carried away". Pause and breath.
 (Sometimes the brain gets excited at what emerges, and then gets huffy trying to show how much it knows. Then the music stops, and you might as well be writing a report, alone at your desk. The brain likes to show off sometimes. But sometimes the narrative emerges to form a surprising landscape, and all I have to do is be there, like a happy tourist with all the new sights, sounds, tastes. That is a fun trip - no tour guide or tedious friend with an agenda. A real adventure that can sometimes take your breath away.)
-Sarah Hickler

I approach an image and with that image, begin to chip away the marble around the narrative. I employ different tools to create the narrative sculpture, like syntax variation, decomposition of phrases, absurdities, alliteration, contradiction, multiple perspectives, shifting between congruence and non-congruence with the experience of my body. With narrative, more than any other part of this practice, I am led by the eyes. I shift either when I feel I have reached a moment when the sculpture has achieved something that completes it (i.e. when discussing how God only likes uptight people, ending on "He leaves the loose people to Lucifer"), when I sense the sculpture would be more fascinating incomplete, or when another block of marble catches my fancy and I must begin carving that one. And perhaps I go back and forth between two or three or four incomplete sculptures until it turns out they are all pieces in one large art installation.
 Or I do something else entirely, like try to tiptoe with just my eyes and mouth and see what words fall out.
-Riley Fox Hillyer

At least initially, I don't know where my narrative is coming from and I don't really want to know. I find it best if I can empty my head and start from there, sort of like the notion in physics that there is no such thing as empty space and there are always particles popping in and out of existence. I also don't want to start with any preconceived ideas about what it is going to be (unless it is handed to me). If I start off with what I think is a great idea, it will more often than not collapse from the desire to keep it alive. I don't want to love what I am doing; I want to love doing what I am doing. The challenge is to trust myself enough to leap into (or perhaps more accurately out of) the void.
 Once things get going there are any number of things that can feed into it (usually simultaneously) - the meaning of the words, the sound of the words, the construction of the words, the movement/shape of my body, my perceptions of the surrounding environment, etc. Sometimes it is like a picture that I am painting, other times more like a thread that I am spinning and following at the same time. I try to avoid getting rooted in anything personal or in identifiable characterizations.
-Sid Huang

the sound of the first word - that leads to a detail - to step into - to enlarge a world - that engulfs the moment
-Skye Hughes

In my narrative dream, I awaken yet again as a captive on a nasty treasure ship, prisoner of the captain, my Ego. As a creature of the water i must redouble my Houdini like commitment to craft and slip the predictable and familiar confines of my cell. When i escape the vessel, the narrative world of sharks and guppies reveals itself in all its caribbean clarity. Step aside mate.......
-Eric Huther

This is the cheekiest possible answer, but there's some truth to it:
 I access narrative by speaking words.
 Inhabiting a body with signature characteristics, noticing and occupying this body in great detail determines the content expressed through that body in movement, and vocalization. Body movement and narrative movement come from the same place; I arrive and allow those expressions from the same sense of permission and curious exploration.
 Asking, "how do I access narrative?" brings up the question of "how do I access movement?", "what separates those two aspects of the body I inhabit?"
 It is SELF CONSCIOUSNESS if anything, as the voice is our primary tool for, and the energetic center associated with conceptual Self Expression. Accessing the Voice, we can get all tangled up in concepts, in a way that does not affect the other parts of the body in movement
 I move by moving, and narrate by talking. The voice has a physical structure, and as such I approach narrative in the same way as movement: as another aspect of the body expressed. Putting aside the judgmental mind of "me", unrestricted by a sense of decorum, manners, etc., I access my voice simply by moving it, as I would any other part of my body, exploring the range of the voice in dynamics, rhythm, duration, silence, etc.
 In this, the style of our distinguished teacher Ruth, narrative does not need to be linear if my focus and attention is on, for example, the rhythm of my words, the tonal signature of the voice, an aspect of the greater energetic signature of this body I inhabit.
 So I access narrative from the body; spoken words themselves are a form of physical movement.
 The crucial indication for my practice, especially in narrative is: Untied from my concepts of Self, from social norms and all the self-consciousness of the "ego" associated with the voice, and the energetic center of the throat.
 Is that right?
-Elijah Lee

My thoughts:
 - words or images from something I've heard or experienced recently
 - movement sparks a context or feeling that leads to a story
 - engineers - still have to make myself conscious of limiting use of 1st and 2nd person in narrative
-Jessica Levy

I access language and narrative content the same way I access anything "physical" that manifests in an improvisation. There are so many flashes in the pan - images, directions the body wants to go, sensations that make themselves known in the flesh. I try my best to take the offerings without questions and let it go from there without judgment. Recently, i find myself working with raw sounds that feel like something before discovering what "words" they are. Chewing on sounds might become a cello. Hissssssing might become a snake, or ssssssssssomething else. I try my best not to overthink it, as seductive and tempting as it is to think it over and plan where the words are going. No matter what comes out, it always has its own maps and colors, so getting "out of its way" is the hard part.
-James Vincent Murray

How do I access narrative...
 when my mind is quiet and open allowing images, words to enter.
 when I'm deeply in my body and mood words magically arise.
 Sounding sparks a word
 movement, actions lead to images
 sometimes just choosing a word to start, and then build from there
 Experimenting….associating….memories that veer into different terrains
 a mysterious process
-Laura Natkins

narrative stuff:
 I am standing in the neutral - in emptiness - then mind shifts - opens - I stand in a river of words and names - they are all available - I can catch every single one of them if I want to - I can recall everything
 I pick the first random word - or is it related with something - with something in space - in my body - in my imagination - the other words stick to this first one - one by one - or lot of together - I have a feeling that everything is possible - i can construct or deconstruct - to go upstream or downstream - to dive into or to fly over - to go contra - to pause - to copy or follow - maintain or change the tempo or rhythm or flow or tension - whatever - meaning is not important - or is - does not matter - movement matters or music or cacophony - sound of words - sound of breath - sound of thinking
 ending is simple - it is just over - stopped - everyday life is back - memory is bad as usually - nothing comes to mind - cannot remember anything
-Andres Noormets

Hmmm. I feel like the dance, for me, is about taming narrative, or messing with it 'til it no longer knows its head from its butt... 'cause the damn thing (language) is ever poised to hijack my attention. My mind is a perpetual font of images, shreds of story, monologue, imaginary dialogue with an invisible partner... So my focus at present is on the experience that co-arises with spoken content: i.e., physical sensation. Such that a hip, a lip, some toes, a turn of the ribs... perhaps a whole-body vortex... just, embodiment... forms the streambed for language to rise, flow, stop, change. A stream and its channel meandering, intertwined.
-Claire Peaslee

 I enter through that portal.
 My inner ears and eye are the lighthouses.
 Sometimes momentum leads the way, sometimes the brain of my muscles, bones and breath have something to say.
 I can enter one drop at a time, or sometimes like an avalanche, moving as water
 does along a landscape of mud, algae, rocks and mist;
 I can enter like a drought, pausing to collect the dust, sounds, scents,
 until a shape becomes palpable and whispers become a song. I sing.
 Openness demands a radical commitment from my heart, where words impregnate themselves.
 I trust that.
-Cecile Reve

Accessing narrative...beginning with the sensation in my mouth, chest, head, vocal apparatus, and the breath travelling through, training attention on the sound that is emerging, allowing that to form a word, which brings (usually) an image with it into my mind's eye and a mood/energy state into my system. I allow the attention to zoom in on and out from the image to explore the details - micro and the context - macro that can be shared through words all the while staying tuned into/following the movement of energy in my body and the music - timing,pitch,texture - of the sounding of the words which inform the HOW of the words I'm saying. In the best case scenario, it is one unified experience that I am not consciously breaking down into all those parts while executing. There comes a connected flowing music whose form and content become a unified experience.
 Tools that help me "come back" from distracting thoughts like self-doubts or over-identification with content or concern about the future and "where things are going" are:
 1) tuning in to the shaping of the words in my mouth
 2) consciously messing with the timing of the wording - interjecting pause, focusing on music making
 3) Allowing more stillness/silence and s l o w i n g down. (really part of number 2, but I wanted to emphasize because the slow helps me with the reconnection to sensory)
 4) breaking down words into sounding/gibberish and coming back out into words
 5) taking a tangent on a word away from the linear content - maybe tune in to another meaning of the word or the perspective of the word or just opening up that one detail of the larger narrative
 6) consciously filling my whole body with one word and living with it for a bit (can mean repeating it, saying it slowly, saying it and being in the resonance of it in silence)
 7) consciously separating wording and movement for a time
-Mary Rose

It comes from a place unknown. When I am receptive and relaxed, the voices and the characters just come through me. It's never about "me" - that's when it is best.
-Audrey Nadia Rubinstein

When I am producing text while improvising my attention is being led by/or my attention is following a few different things, a mixture of thought and sensation that I believe breaks down into these categories, but not necessarily in this order:
 the brain's desire to make sense:
 which breaks down into:
 habitual training of syntax and grammar
 adding details to the image
 accessing memory
 simultaneous with this activity, I am consciously aware or my attention is being led by, or following:
 the sensation of the vowels and consonants in my mouth
 how the tension and the timing of the movements in my mouth trigger feeling states and stories
 how the brain is making sense of those actions by producing associations
 where those associations are coming from - either physically or sonically
 how all of the physical sensations resonate in my body
 simultaneously with those I am aware of, or paying attention to, or my attention is led by/ following
 the pace at which the words leave the mouth
 the connection the the breath to the movement of the words
 the momentum, or push, of the text delivery or arrival
 where the vowels/consonants/word arrived from - did it pop in straight from the head? did it generate from a body vibration? did it generate from an audio sensation?
 additional to that
 I consciously introduce self-surprising self-interruptions (pauses) in order to disengage the brain's push to hold to a linear narrative. In those pauses one of the things that occurs is that I watch my mind keep throwing words my way. Generally I do not take the first or second word but rather the third. This practice helps the narrative move into some other direction than where the brain's hunger for clarity imposes its limitations.
 There's my two cents.
-Sten Rudstrom

From a garden of possibility, an image
 named. The shape of a word,
 the sound of it
 reverberates, invites
 another-they make their own sense, bring
 their own weather, better than
 my two cents.
 Struck by lightning, rolled
 by thunder, spread out in
 a calm cloud, breathing
 or curled in the lap of resonance,
 reconstructing a dream from
 tangles in the
 Chasing ghosts with tuning forks-tweak the pitch
 just so, they sing together,
 push too hard
 to make them matter,
 they turn to glass and
 blankly shatter.
 Fall down the stairs
 while building them. Turn
 the whole thing sideways, it's
 an accordion, going
 nowhere but in and out.
-Susan Skeele

What a great exchange! I am trusting the process of association.
 The longer the pauses - the more information seems to drop in.
 Through the amazing work guided by Ruth Zaporah I am trusting the process - I am overcoming the fear of the unknown. If I trust and let myself fall into the unknown - jump off the cliff without safety net - there is content. It is provided. It seems to drop in.
 Content then is influenced by any movement, body parts, any alteration. The more I listen - in the moment - the more I can hear and then utter. My own tone of voice shapes the content too. Ultimatetly - the better I am at listening and trusting the impulses - the better I am in shutting off my ego through following rules and staying within frames - the more content there is. It is fascinating.
-Cassis B. Staudt

-Nadine Sures

I find that, for me, narrative usually starts with some kind of visual cue, which I think stems a lot from being an actor and my improv experience. I'll see an object, a color, etc in my space which then inspires a story or a made-up situation. I view that as sort of a warm-up and starting point for going deeper within myself. It's also a good test for me to see how "in it" I truly am that day.
 On some days, my "engineer" is just too involved and so I take inspiration from my surroundings more than I would like. But other days, I really only take the visual cue on the first narrative and begin sinking deeper from there. If that's the case, then the content of the next line(s) of narrative is usually inspired by whatever energy the preceding narrative brought up or perhaps the tension it produced in my body. Sometimes it's a position I find myself in (for example, if I'm low to the ground, that might inspire a low, sluggish voice). And then sometimes, the narrative is inspired by my own frustration at myself, haha.
 A lot happens in the pauses, also. Sometimes in the silence, a little nameless "spark" of something will pop up within me. I'm not sure what it is so I want to pursue it and see how it manifests which results in a string of impulses. Kind of hard to explain!
-Alexis Tipton

I try before to fulfill me with courage and stillness. My first goal is to start with a simple hook whatever it is (image, sentence, word). Most of the time it is a small sentence which provides me an image. And then I try to let it go, let arise to me whatever images or words or sensations. And letting go, then going further with conviction without fearing anything. I try to not forget anything by being completely emerged in the flow of my story.
-Christophe Tournier

How do I access narrative?
 Breathe, eyes join the breath-tide, a word burrowed in my body noses its way out; it has a shape and sound. It dances with my mouth for a moment. The wordsound has a shape, a music, color. It is an alive thing. A gate swings open and then the words form from/with/over each other, and my work is to stay in the bodily sensation of those words, the how of them, so they don't carry me off into their world and leave my physical self behind. Pause/ Allow the word to resonate out. Stay mindful. Know where my feet are.
-Niki Tulk

 As narrative unfurls, I have a sense that language architects itself and sensualizes itself through the space of my body, mouth, breath, mind and world. Mind-world-body: one connected thing. I feel sensate language texturing me, a text on a tour. Allure. Beguilement. Stillness. Space gets shaped by words, words branch out growing rapidly, slowly, infinitely. Plant-wise. Words touch air and vibrate space around me; I receive back each word-vibration physically (imaginally, energetically) and get moved in different directions - a plastic bag in the grip and thrall of a gust of wind, or a vine spiraling towards light.
 A narrative for me is a little like a strong wind. Invisible and inaudible but for its interaction with tree, the moving structure. Tree being body, wind being words. I can't see or hear wind on its own, I only know because I see/feel/hear branches bending and thrashing, making the invisible breath visible. Sounded and physical. When I'm available to it, empty enough for it, narrative feels in me a deeply physical event inseparable from mind - a kind of animal or force - mysterious, more free. Alive. Mercurial. Photosynthesizing. Converting experience to sound-dance-meaning. Images arise as I sense them, sense them as they arise. Utterance grows vine-like, knits to emergent reality, clings to walls of memory, tendrils towards the dreamlike, shapes breath and is shaped by movements of mouth, mind and ear. And feeling, waves of feeling.
-Cass Tunick

How do I access narrative?
 The most easy for me is: move first, add sound, get clear about the mood, work on detail, and from there I let a word, or some words, pop up.. [e.g. ‘sweet' or ‘truck'] Words rather than images; risk taking. Don't think yet about story or image. The words give possible images [‘a sweet ride in the coutry side...' or ‘there he was talking, John, sweet much too sweet…' or ‘sweet, I hate sweet, give me bitter, give me sour, but not sweeeeettt' - so I can make a choice.. going with my movement and mood, or go against it. work in the first person, or the third. Most of the time the order is: first a word, then the image. Move first, or react to what the partner is doing. Adding on or contrasting
-Warner van Wely

For me a narrative comes through the body. A sense, a squirm, a shift in weight, a tension, a relaxing, a movement or a sound that then moves into a narrative.
-Constance Washburn

How do I access narrative?
 In neutral, I empty myself-or try to.
 What does this mean?
 I am still.
 I allow what is to come next-to come.
 I surrender to what is next.
 What is next in that moment, may be a movement.
 Or sound.
 Or word that comes from my body.
 I am compelled to follow it-so I follow it.
 Sometimes text emerges from that sound.
 Or text emerges from the embodied movement.
 Or text emerges from the pause.
 Sometimes the sound becomes text.
 At it's best, the text is not mine.
 At it's best, when I am in that zone-and I am not always in that zone-I feel liberated.
 I surrender.
 When embodied, the text feels connected to the body.
 Connected to everything.
 It is easy.
 When not embodied, the text feels strained.
 I try to find the nothingness because it feels best to be there.
 Prepared or pre-mediated language feels forced, boring.
 I recognize this.
 I am bored with my story but thrilled with images, poetry, sound, text that the freedom of nothingness can bring.
 That's how I access narrative.
-Trisha Zembruski

Ruth Zaporah
What is Action Theater - New Interview
About Training - See Video
About Certification
Zaporah's Teaching Schedule
Zaporah, Performance
Press Comments
Action Theater Articles and Interviews
Teacher's Performance Videos

Books and DVDs,
International List of Certified Teachers
Action Theater - Photo Gallery
Action Theater Home Page
Flyers - Archive
How do you access narrative?  

You can reach Ruth Zaporah at

This site is being developed by
© Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997 Liquid Pictures All Rights reserved. For information on Liquid Pictures please send e-mail to or call us at 510/644-3533. For comments and/or concerns dealing with the content of these WWW pages please e-mail Thank you for visiting Liquid Pictures' sites. Any trademarks used are the properties of their respective owners