To deliver a believable performance, stage and screen actors must involve their entire bodies when acting. Acting classes that focus on memorization, character development and auditioning skills are important; however, to become a well-rounded actor, exercises in body movement and voice should be integrated into their training.
Stand in a circle so every actor is facing each other. One at a time, each actor should create a spontaneous movement that lasts one to two seconds. This movement should involve the entire body, and it does not require the actor to stay in place. Do not incorporate sound with the movement. The person directly across the circle from the actor making the movement must then imitate those movements before creating a new movement that will be passed on to the person next to her. This exercise helps loosen the body and promotes freedom and confidence in movement.
Sit 2 actors in chairs facing each other. Give the actors a line to say. An example is, “Do you really love him?” Have the first actor say this line in a normal tone and style, and then have the second actor imitate the line in the same tone as the first actor. The second actor must then say the same line with a completely different emotion and tone. The first actor repeats the line and imitates the emotion. Continue the exercise for several minutes until the actors have run out of emotions. This exercise will help an actor hone their understanding of the connection between voice and emotion.
Full Body and Voice
Write a movement and 1-sentence line of dialogue on index cards. The number of cards needed is determined by the number of actors involved in the exercise. This exercise should involve real-life movements such as “fixing a cup of tea” or “window shopping at the mall.” Dialogue could be, “why I love this type of tea” or “I would like to buy that shirt, but it is too expensive.” Have each actor pull an index card and allow him a few moments to read over the card and prepare. After the actor has performed the short scene, instruct him to incorporate a different emotion into the movement and dialogue, such as fear, love, nervousness and so on. This exercise will help train actors to connect natural movements and purposeful vocals to achieve the proper emotional tone and physicality for any scene.
Jonathan McLelland has been a professional writer since 2005. He has worked as a story writer and editor for the international sitcom, “Completing Kaden,” as well as a proposal writer for various production companies. McLelland studied communication and theater at St. Louis Community College.