At the core of Rudolf Steiner’s research into speech and language is the rediscovery that the sounds of speech – consonants and vowels – are not mere vocal noises to which we have assigned an abstract meaning, but are dynamic forces that can accurately chart and recreate our outer and our inner worlds.
The power great language has to move us springs precisely out of this reality. Therefore, language itself becomes our teacher, inspiring us to stretch our souls and spirits beyond the poverty to which our everyday exchange of words can limit us, into our highest, deepest, broadest possibilities of consciousness. This approach invites us to explore a healthier method than the desperate one propounded by Artaud, for transforming the condition he described in his influential manifesto The Theatre and its Double: that the throats of modern human beings have ‘shrivelled’ into ‘monstrous talking abstractions’, and that language as we know it is dead.
To have this new experience of consonants and vowels we must transform the way we use our breath and heal the dissociation, which has caused us to forget the movements that take place within our mouths, are no less expressive gestures than the movements of our arms and legs. We could think of them as micro-gestures which are most alive when they are integrated and embedded in the macro-gestures of our total instrument. These macro gestures, which Chekhov called ‘full-bodied’, grant access to the intensities of human soul experience and make the bridge on which the soul can feel its way towards the spirit. Chekhov’s full-bodied methodology prepares us to experience Eurythmy which can lead us to the cosmic beings who bestow on us the greater archetypes that weave within our soul experience and find expression as the consonants and vowels of human language.
This approach to speech, first developed in the German language, was called by Steiner and his wife Marie, Sprachgestaltung: a name that acknowledges the power of speech to be shaped and formed by and in turn to also shape and form, not just our soul experience but the very energies of life itself. Earlier English renderings of this term, such as ‘speech formation’ or ‘formative speech’ have been replaced more recently by ‘creative speech’.
At the Heartfire Centre for Speech and Drama
At the Heartfire Centre a thorough grounding is provided both in Chekhov’s psycho-physical technique as well as Steiner’s creative speech. However, at each stage of the process the integration of the two will be explored and developed through the Langman methodology: demonstrating how the two streams support and fructify each other and eventually flow into a single river. Whether in short courses or the more intensive training this river will be a source of inspiration for those seeking self-development, for performers and for teachers who work in every level of the classroom from primary and secondary through to adults.