What better way to learn more about Nancy
than to read an article she has written herself
Playfulness by Nancy Tucker
Is playfulness important in a performance? Absolutely! As an audience member and as a performer, I find it next to impossible to participate in a performance without a built-in lightness I like to call the "dolphin factor." Otherwise, it loses my interest. I need the lows and highs, the playful moments as well as the serious. As a performer, if there is an important message I want to get across, I like to do a wild, fun, uproarious song before it. Children's ears and hearts seem more open after a good laugh.
In the dictionary, one definition of play is "the natural activity of children." Playfulness was one of the main avenues of learning for me as a child, and so I use it as often as I can. I remember my sixth-grade teachers trying to tell us, with punishment, with reprimand, with exasperation, over and over, that we were behaving inappropriately and that we were not ready for junior high school. It all went in one ear and out the other. It was not until May of that year that the teachers decided to put on a play to show us, in a humorous way, how we were behaving. We all laughed together, teachers and students alike, at our antics and how ridiculous we looked. Through playfulness, we got it.
I’m still applying that lesson in my own life to this day. Though play is planned within each performance I do, there is also a spontaneous element that is essential to keeping the interest of an audience. Children especially need to know the performer is right there in the moment. I always try to react playfully to a sneeze, for example, by leaping up or falling backwards. There is no way to plan a spontaneous reaction, so I try to listen and watch carefully for what the audience is doing, and that helps me stay connected and spontaneous.
Of course, none of us could incorporate play and spontaneity into a performance without keeping our own inner children alive. I try, always, to look at the world from a different angle--sort of warped and tilted. For example, while driving long hours in my car, I try to use my imagination. I like to imagine that one day I'll see a giant pair of scissors cutting along the dotted line on the highway. I like to imagine what it would be like to pull up at a stop sign and watch it magically turn green. And my favorite is to drive through a snowstorm at night and pretend I am Captain Picard on the Starship Enterprise, and the snowflakes are stars whizzing by. I try to see everything as if I am seeing it for the first time. That helps me keep one foot in grown-up world and one foot child's world (where l really belong).
For me, the whole point of performing is connecting to an audience and in turn connecting them to each other. I like to invite the audience into my world, and they invite me into theirs. When people are laughing and singing together, the barriers between them crumble. There is nothing more rewarding. Playfulness is one of the finest catalysts I know.
Nancy Tucker is a singer, songwriter, comedienne, and guitarist. In other words, a sing-song-medienne-ist. She lives in a house with barkers, meowers and a furless babbler.