Throughout your training as an actor, you will likely encounter situations that may seem odd. For example, throughout the beginning years of my training, I had an acting coach who would require my scene partners and myself to perform a song without actually saying a word. Instead, he wanted us to delve into the physical movements and emotions of a scene without relying on our voices to convey such emotions.
This form of external training utilizes your entire body, from head-to-toe, to convey emotions and objectives of your character. As an actor it is important for you to engage in a wide variety of physical training, such as dancing, fencing, combat training and even contemporary dance.
Your body is vital when it comes to providing a realistic and believable performance. The gestures, alignment and movement of your body is the principle tool you use to create a full-fledged character. Below are several tips to help you connect with your body to create a believable and realistic character:
Being Physically Responsive to Emotional Stimuli
I want you to think about a situation that truly upset you in your life. Maybe it was a conversation with your mother, or your boyfriend breaking your heart. These highly emotional situations didn’t just cause an internal reaction, but also a physical one. The same can be said when you’re experiencing true moments of joy, peace and happiness.
As an actor you must think about the positioning, gestures and primary alignment of your body throughout all emotional levels of a script. When you’re rehearsing a scene, have the character playing opposite of you deliver his lines while you can only provide non-verbal, physical only responses based on the emotions his lines gave you.
Embracing Inner Thoughts with Exterior Movements
Our bodies have its own vocabulary, and often times, this vocabulary speaks much louder than our own words. We express our fears, hopes, worries and all other emotions through our body. You must learn how to embrace the inner thoughts of your character and combine these thoughts with exterior movements.
Establishing Personality through Movement
We all have our own bodily movements that are as unique to us as our fingerprints. When creating a character, it is vital that you create a physical profile for him. How does he walk? How high or low does his shoulders rest? When he’s upset, how does his body react? When he’s bored, what does his body do? How does his face react when talking and listening? These personality movements give your character not only realism, but it helps separate yourself from him as his movements are not your own.