A reflection after Week 2 of Le Jeu at Gaulier
As I’m taking it easy following my ridiculous fall yesterday (see previous post… no, you can go and find the link to the post for yourself, I’m not your mother), I’ve been thinking about my general “social ineptness” and a concept we’ve been learning here…
The concept is Major and Minor.
Like many things here at Gaulier, Major vs Minor wasn’t “explained” to us in the traditional teaching sense – we didn’t get the theoretical explanations first, then put it into practice.
The teachers just started using the terms Major and Minor, and we picked up their meaning as time went on. This is one of the best ways to learn new concepts – it’s how children learn their first languages.
This approach has helped us to more deeply understand the difference between the two terms, without pesky words and intellect getting in the way of our understanding.
So I’m going to shit all over that subtle teaching method now by trying to explain what the terms mean intellectually.
I’d much prefer to teach it without explanation, as we have been taught it here, but that’s impossible in a blog post.
On stage, the performer in Major is the one who has (or should have) the audience’s attention. All eyes are on them, including the eyes – or at least the attention – of the other performers (who should be in Minor).
That’s one way to look at the idea of Major.
Often, the person in Major should be the one speaking their lines. They should show presence, pleasure, and power in their performance to ensure the attention stays on them and not on the other performers in that moment. However, you can also be “in Major” without speaking. And you can speak when you are “in Minor” – i.e. speaking in such a way that the audience’s attention doesn’t move to you.
This Major-to-Minor and Minor-to-Major switch is happening all the time.
It happens on stage and it happens in normal conversations.
In social conversations, I am scared of being in Major. This is most obvious when there are 3 or more people in a conversation with me. But often, I struggle to take Major in one-to-one conversations as well.
Taking Major in a group conversation means pointing the spotlight at yourself. And being comfortable with everyone’s attention pointing at you. It means holding the energy of the whole conversation for some time.
Some people are great at taking Major and passing it around the group.
These are the people who can keep an entire conversation going in a group of several people.
Let’s call this type of person the Major Maestro.
Whenever the energy dips in the conversation, the Major Maestro takes responsibility for the energy. They add a comment, ask a question, or otherwise find a way to keep the conversation moving along in an enjoyable way.
Whenever someone else in the group doesn’t know how to keep the ball in the air in the conversation, the Major Maestro helps them out. They add an extra point that the person can use as an impulse to keep speaking. Or the Major Maestro just takes the spotlight themselves for a while until they can pass it on again.
Whenever you are in a conversation with a skilled Major Maestro, you feel like the conversation is going great.
We don’t give enough love to the Major Maestros of this world.
Of course, you can have multiple Major Maestro’s in a conversation. These become very dynamic conversations!
If you are a shy person, like me, it’s in these situations when we tend to take a backseat. I enjoy listening to the conversations when several Major Maestros are passing the ball around quickly. But I rarely find a way to get actively involved (aside from listening intently, nodding, and laughing where I can).
But the most skilled and generous Major Maestros often find ways to pull us shy people back into the conversation. So nobody feels left out. I am eternally grateful to this type of person. They can turn an awkward social situation for me into one that I enjoy the memory of for weeks afterwards.
It you are one of these people, thank you.
It’s worth mentioning that a skilled Major Maestro is not someone who just bulldozes the entire conversation – taking the spotlight for themselves and talking until everyone else dies of boredom. Such people don’t understand the importance of keeping that bounce of Major-to-Minor-to-Major in play.
I recognize that I’m not doing my part in most conversations.
I rarely take Major.
I think I’m quite a good Minor.
Aside from my brain’s tendency to get distracted by things – thanks to my potential attention problems – I have worked hard in my life to make sure I am always listening intently in conversations.
I often turn group conversations into a type of active meditation for me. I continually pull my attention back to what people are saying, even if I am not speaking very much.
When someone in the conversation says a comment that the others didn’t hear, I make sure to let them know (with my eyes, a smile, a laugh, a nod) that I have heard them.
It’s the least I can do.
But I do recognize that I am not “doing my part” by taking Major in conversations more often.
I often recognize when it’s “my turn” to take that Major energy – to inject some life back into the conversation and keep it going. But I freeze and I don’t know how to do it.
Actively taking Major remains one of my Achilles Heels (How many Achilles Heels can one have, I wonder? If Achilles were a spider, I guess up to 6… do spiders have heels?)
So when “the ball” of the conversation lands on me, I often fumble with it and drop it…
… I speak too quietly…
… I provide a comment that doesn’t provide enough of “an impulse” (a Gaulier word there) for someone else to turn that comment into their own Major…
… and the conversation falls into silence…
… then I retreat back into my own thoughts and give myself a hard time for failing in this way yet again.
This dynamic extends to my performances on stage here in Etampes. And to the exercises we’ve been doing these past 2 weeks.
When it’s my turn to be in Major on stage, I tend to drop the ball – I speak too quietly, I’m not confident about my idea, I retreat into my own head.
How do I learn to pick up that ball (to grab hold of and keep the Major) with confidence?
That’s partly what we’re learning here at Gaulier.
I still need to get a lot better at it…
… then, try to apply it to my social interactions too.
It’s quite a tall order. But it’s a good skill to work on.