Characterization by Ray Sanchez

Knowing your lines and having a cute costume isn’t enough!  You need to know how to move your body to give credibility to your character as an individual being. To accomplish this, it helps to

Learn What to Do With Your Body When…

1.     … you are saying your lines.

  • Remain open to the audience at all times, even though it is not natural.  This task is more difficult when the audience is wider, but it is still possible.
  • Why?          When you turn your back to the audience, it’s the same as telling them that you are not in the scene anymore. Also, you prevent them from participating in the play. What’s more, it’s impolite.

2.     … you are being spoken to by another actor.

  • Listen attentively, constantly reacting to what the other actor is telling you. Do not get distracted by the audience or anything else.  The director will help with this.

3.     … you are in the scene, but not a part of the dialogue.

  • Engage in activities your character would naturally engage in. Invent something for your character to do. Stay quietly busy, but do not be so animated that you upstage the main characters.

4.     … you have to be on stage, but you are not a part of the scene.

  • Turn your back to the audience completely, bow your head, hold your hands in front of you against your body and do not move or make a sound. DO NOT TRY TO SEE WHAT THE OTHER ACTORS ARE DOING!

5.     … you are backstage waiting for your cue.

  • Move like a mouse. Always be aware of what’s around you so you do not bump into anything. It is sometimes very dark offstage.


Above All, Remember To:


  • Especially when acting in venues that are not “acoustically sound” (where your voice does not carry well). This is not so easy to do when you are portraying sadness or some other quiet emotion. Use your diaphragm to breathe.


  • If given a choice between seeing your back or your face, the audience would rather see your face. Really, they would. If your character pivots to face another part of the stage, turn so that the audience will see your front side in the process.


  • Exaggerate every shrug of the shoulders and every wink of the eye or an audience will think your character has nothing more than a nervous twitch.