The next step is to develop an ability to convey emotions and ideas with the body. The actor must learn to develop an expressive body that will be able to project anger, jealousy, sympathy, and all the vast ranges of emotional experiences to an audience. The actor must also learn to recreate any emotion that he has experienced or that he has seen other people experience.

The difference between any person experiencing hate or fear and an actor creating these emotions is that the actor may create any of these moods at will. When you are sad or in a temper, you experience emotion automatically. If you become furious over some incident, your heart begins to beat rapidly. You become tense in your muscles. Your face may flush red. Your fists may close. Your system responds without your direct control.

But how can an actor make his body express rage towards another actor on stage when that actor may be his best friend and the incident which the script calls for does not make him personally angry? The answer is that the actor must first have an active IMAGINATION to make himself believe for the moment in the situation. And, second, he must have trained his senses and muscles to create the outward physical appearance of tension ( a heart that beats fast, a face that appears to be angry).

To create at will physical attitudes or emotions, the actor must observe him or herself in other people, and with a keen eye detect all of the signs of various emotions. the ability to recreate strong emotion so that an audience believes in your attitude is the heart of acting. In fact, emotion is the heartbeat of the theatre.

Rule 1. Observe yourself in emotional situations.
Rule 2. Observe other people.
Rule 3. There is no such thing as emotion in general - There is always a specific reason.
Rule 4. Be aware of life through you five senses - Hear, See, Touch, Taste, and Smell.

Through your five senses you experience the world about you.

In acting, many times, you must create the impression of seeing or touching objects which are not real (Macbeth, for example). You must imagine, and you must make your senses react as though the stimuli were real. You must train your senses to respond to imaginary objects. You must create an emotional reaction to what you imagine. Therefore, you must remember your own real life reactions.

In watching a motion picture haven't you noticed how many times the camera focused on the facial reactions of the character or a specific part of the body, the feet, for example? At that moment the understanding of the play was dependent upon the expressiveness of that one part of the actor's body.

One should concentrate on specific parts of the body to convey the specific emotion or reaction - hands, feet, arms, and face. But you must react with your whole body, concentrating particularly on letting the part of your body that is suggested show the strongest emotion.

In preparing for acting roles, the actor must learn the techniques of certain actions that are frequently required in plays.
They are techniques rather than creative actions, because they must be performed without the actor becoming physically involved.
These are actions such as learning to faint, die, fight, and experience pain.
When an actor must project the illusion that he is dying or fainting, obviously he cannot do so. These actions then are pure technique.
The actor makes the audience believe, but he himself does not go through the action physically.

How can an actor make his audience believe he has just come in out of a snowstorm and is freezing cold, OR has just burned his hand on a hot stove and is in great pain ?

The answer is that the actor must study physiologically everything that happens to an individual when he experiences these actions.
Down to the last detail an actor must know what happens when people die, and what is more important, he must know the exact cause of death.
Actors have studied the exact phyical action that takes place by consulting a doctor or reading a medical book.


It is essential that as an actor, one must learn how to relax not only off-stage between rehearsals, but onstage as well.
There is always a degree of excitement and nervousness when one appears before an audience, but the actor must learn how to make himself relax, so that he has complete control over his physical movements
A tense actor is not a controlled actor. It is up to the individual to find out what exercise will best relax his muscles.
I personally sit and visualize in my mind a picture of the ocean or a beautiful lake, close my eyes, and concentrate on that scene for a few minutes.


An actor must learn to faint in such a way that he will not injure himself. This means he must learn to relax in certain parts of his body and at the same time have muscular control.
1. Relax the head and shoulders, letting the head fall forward on to the chest.
2. Let the arms hang limp.
3. Let the torso slip downward as the knees bend forward.
4. Keep the weight supported by the legs until you are as close to the ground as possible.
5. Then let the left arm slip out sideways to protect the face as your whole body slumps to the left.
6. Collapse in one smooth relaxed motion without bouncing.


First the actor must know the exact cause of his acting death. Then he must learn the exact physical things that happen in this type of death.
1. The technique is to imitate the signs of quick breathing, tension, pain, and finally the total relaxing that takes place with death.


Fight scenes are frequently a part of an actor's role.
The actor must deliver blows that look real, but that do not harm either actor.
This means that the fight must be rehearsed carefully, first in slow motion, and then practiced until each action is precise.
Blows are given on parts of the body which will not cause serious injury.
The actor must learn to throw a punch with tension in the arm and hand, but stop the blow at the point of impact.
It will appear real, but will land softly.
A good fight scene must be rehearsed carefully, if it is to be exciting, believable, and at the same time safe for the actors.


The cause of the pain must be clearly established.
Again the actor must study the exact symptoms that occur and practice recreating the actions in pantomime.
1. Observe what part the facial reactions play.
2. Notice how the whole body seems to lean toward the area of injury.
3. Pain will not be immediate, but rather a few seconds after the injury.


Actors are often called upon to fall downstairs, trip, fall to the floor, or fall off roofs or balconies.
Even though there may be concealed mattresses to catch the actor as he falls from high places, he must give the impression of falling a great distance.
1. In falling down a set of stairs, the actor lowers his body as close to the stairs as possible and then relaxes completely as he slips down, resting on an arm with the face turned sideways.


When it is necessary for the actor to pick up an object from the floor, it is important that he present a pleasing picture and not appear awkward.
1. Approach the object until you are parallel with it.
2. Keeping the back straight, lower the entire torso so that the object can be reached, then return to the upright position.
3. Do not bend from the waist.


When it is necessary to kneel on stage. kneeling is to be done on the downstage foot or knee.


Dependent on reason for emotion:
crying, singing, boistrousness, hitting of someone or something, destructiveness, self-infliction, sullenness, tenseness, sweating.
sweating, shaking, constant-talking, pacing floor, sullenness, stuttering, cringing.
crying, laughing, singing, whistling, smiling, fiendliness, vitality.
sullenness, crying, tenseness, desire to be alone, desire to be with others.


Charles Northrup
Phone: (561) 649-0041
E-mail: northrup@webtv.net
4610 happy Landings North
West Palm Beach, FL 33415