Writers On Writing / Performance skills for writers with George Catsi

You’ve written your work and now you’re being asked to read it out loud—or you hope to soon. Any public reading is a promotional moment that can convert a listener, if you read and speak well. Ahead of his one-day course at Writing NSW, Performance Skills for Writers, we caught up with with Dr George Catsi.

You teach and present to a wide range of people. What do you find most challenging—or most exciting—about teaching performance skills to writers in particular? 

My key objective in my teaching is to have everyone be ‘comfortable in their own skin’. The joy is when people realise that they, with all their quirks, are the most interesting thing. Not some imagined construct on how a good speaker should be. 

How did you develop your own performance abilities as a teacher, a comic, a writer and speaker?  

I wasn’t a natural performer though some friends reckon I was a natural clown at school.  I did a lot of work in my 20’s in improvisational performance that was a great training in thinking on my feet, being in front of people and making mistakes and having that be ok. I’ve learnt to reduce the difference between every role I do. Have everything be a natural expression of me.

What’s one key tip for writers keen to improve their performance skills? 

When people read a book, you—as the author—are invisible. When they come to hear you read you are not invisible. So don’t act like you are and try to hide by not looking at the audience. Look up and let them see your face and eyes and allow everyone to connect with you. They will buy into you as a person if they connect and your book is second to that. 

Dr George Catsi is an award-winning writer plus a performer, comic and academic. He was the 2010 winner of the Kit Denton Fellowship for courage and excellence in performance writing for his satirical evangelical comedy, I Want to Be Slim. He has performed his comedic memoir show, Am I Who I Say I Am?, across three seasons. George has a doctorate exploring persuasive performance.

Performance Skills for Writers will take place at Writing NSW on Sunday 2 December, 10am-4pm.
Book your spot here >

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