Visual-Gestural Communication: A Workbook in Nonverbal Expression and Reception, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Visual-Gestural Communication

A Workbook in Nonverbal Expression and Reception, 1st Edition

By Willy Conley


242 pages | 107 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-04-24
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Visual-Gestural Communication is a truly unique volume in non-language communication devoted to the study of universal gestures, facial expressions, body language, and pantomime. Readers develop the skill and confidence to interact -- sans shared language -- with individuals, such as someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, or who speaks a foreign language. The text and accompanying online resources feature a wealth of icebreakers, sequenced yet modular activities and assignments, as well as resources, student exercises, and teacher-guided tasks that explore aspects and amalgamations of nonverbal communication, theatre, and sign language. It is a tremendous resource for students of visual-gestural communication, sign language interpretation, American Sign Language (and other foreign sign languages), nonverbal communication, theatre, and performance studies, as well as community educators in deaf awareness and advocacy. In addition to the text's vital use in the theatrical arena, it is also applicable to teachers who wish to help their students maximize the use of their facial expressions, gestures, and body language as a prerequisite to learning ASL. 


As one of Gil Eastman’s VGC students in the 1970s, this book evoked warm nostalgic memories. Conley, Eastman’s successor, expertly crafted a historical source with numerous thought-provoking activities for BOTH learners & instructors in a polyvalence of interdisciplinary fields. A must for many purposes!

-Dr. Arlene B. Kelly, Chair/Professor: Department of ASL & Deaf Studies, Gallaudet University

Conley's book is an important and inspiring guide that will enable and improve your nonverbal communication skills, no matter your background or specific goals. The wealth of exercises and activities listed provide a fun and practical framework to create positive growth and bring participants closer together.

-Eric Beatty, Director, Homewood Arts Programs, Johns Hopkins University

With this book, Willy Conley shares the history of visual, gestural communication and presents a cogent argument for its place in modern society and education. Visual-Gestural Communication serves as a valuable tool for educators and theatre artists. By applying the concepts and tools provided here in cultural and work settings, practitioners enable participants to find common ground and consequently build a sense of community.

-Tim McCarty, President/Artistic Director, Quest Visual Theatre

This is the perfect book that Mr. Bean, Jim Carrey, the Marx Brothers, Garfield, Lucille Ball, Laurel and Hardy will endorse with me. I find the chapters, lesson plans, exercises, and activities to be fun, relaxing, enjoyable and sometimes hilarious. Conley’s opus is the antithesis to the Tower of Babel! The world needs this book to communicate more effectively.

-Steve C. Baldwin, Ph.D., Texas, USA

Table of Contents

Part 1: Introduction 1. Inherent Benefits 2. An Abridged, Concise, (Perhaps Quirky) History On Gestures 3. Gesture-Sign Language Connections 4. Gesture and Pantomime in Theatre 5. Nonverbal Applications 6. Some Iconic Gestures in Culture, Film, and TV 7. Self-Awareness Part 2: Warm-ups, Icebreakers, & Exercises 1. Physical Warm-Ups and Icebreakers 2. Facial Expression Exercises 3. Visual Exercises 4. Visual-Gestural Exercises Part 3: Visual-Gestural Communication Assignments 1. Your Gestural Introduction 2. Personal Coat of Arms 3. Universal Gestures 4. International Sign 5. Random Universal Phrases/Questions 6. Weekend Highlight in Universal Gestures 7. Cirque du Soleil: Nouvelle Experience 8. Body Language 9. Some Basic Hand Orientations for Two-Dimensional (2D) Gestures 10. Developing a Pantomime With Two-Dimensional (2D) Gestures 11. Abstract Two-Dimensional (2D) Gestures 12. Practice With Basic Three-Dimensional (3D) Hand Shapes: Objects 13. Creating Three-Dimensional (3D) Objects 14. Continued Practice With Three-Dimensional (3D) Hand Shapes: Buildings and Structures 15. Arrangement of Related Objects 16. Repeating Patterns 17. Angles & Perspectives 18. Environmental Gestures 19. Cooking Up a Storm 20. Character Description 21. Character Icons 22. Animal Character Description 23. Vehicle Gestures 24. Visual Vernacular -- an Aspect Using Body Movement Designators Part 4: Projects 1. Playwriting, and Performing With Gestures and Movement 2. Gestures in the Work World 3. Creating an Original, Visual, Nonverbal, Comical Script a la Mr. Bean 4. Assessing Your Facial Expressions 5. Facial Storytelling 6. Visual Nonverbal Comical Script a la Mr. Bean 7. Performance Reaction Paper 8. Visual-Gestural Translation of a Haiku 9. Re-enacting Little Miss Muffet in Gestures & Movement 10. Two Crows Project 11. Visual Theatre Project 12. Research Project 13. Final Project Part 5: Bibliography

About the Author

Willy Conley is a professor of Theatre and Dance at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. He is is an award-winning playwright whose work has appeared in American Theatre, Theatre for Young Audiences Today, Stages of Transformation and numerous anthologies. He specializes in teaching visual-gestural communication to undergraduate and graduate deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing students. His publications include Listening Through the Bone: Collected Poems (2018), The Deaf Heart: A Novel (2015) and Vignettes of the Deaf Character and Other Plays (2009).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Communication Studies


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