Gentle Bamboo Solutions

Lessons from 100-year old Theater Actors


Theater has been around for thousands of years. Movies are barely a hundred years old. When movies started, the obvious choice was star actors and actresses from theater. They were expected to perform even better when they were allowed the luxury of multiple retakes.

However, that didn’t happen. Extremely successful theater artists flopped miserably in the movies. But why?

They were trying to bring the skills they learned on the stage to movies without understanding how much the medium had changed. 

They were exaggerating their emotions on the stage because their audience viewed them from a far distance. In the movies, when the camera zoomed in on their faces, that exaggerated emotion started seeming like overacting. 

It took them years to completely understand how to work efficiently with the new platform. They understood the value of subtlety after years of trial and error. Now, artists can seamlessly move between theater and movie as needed.

We, as trainers and educators, find ourselves in that same situation today that was experienced a hundred years ago by actors. We were used to a certain platform (physical classrooms) which has fundamentally changed now (virtual classrooms).

Now that we are dealing with learners in the virtual world, we need to understand that our presence and body language cannot make a meaningful impact on them. Our voice is all that we have these days. 

That means, we have to imagine the journey from theater to movies, but in reverse. We need to unlearn subtlety of speech while learning how to exaggerate our emotions and modulate our voices.

Educators who are able to engage learners with nothing but their voice will be the new superstars. Learn how to do that, and your path in the virtual world will be simpler. It’s not a journey that will be easy, but it is one that is essential for continued success. 

If you wish to know where to begin, reply to this email and I’ll share some resources.