Body language is communication by movement or position, particularly facial expressions, gestures and the relative positions of a speaker and listener. It may be the message being conveyed or it may add layers of meaning to the spoken words, being referred to as non-verbal communication. Age, gender, culture and social situation will all contribute to body language. In real life, reading body language is an important part of understanding the full significance of a conversation.
Why describe body language?
The three main situations describing body language:
director’s notes - body language is an important part of the armoury that a director can use to help an actor reach the best performance
an actor may write about the body language they used and why in a self-evaluation
when analysing a performance, body language will be something that should be mentioned
Different kinds of body language
Position includes several different elements:
Levels are very important, eg if we wish to show dominance we will probably have the person in authority on a higher level.
Closeness is also important as there’s usually much greater intensity when the characters are close together.
Distance shows how intimate characters are with each other.
Posture is the position of a person's body when standing or sitting, eg a soldier would stand upright but a drunk person would slump.
How the characters use their space
The facial expressions are consider as one of the important aspect of body language. Facial expressions describing in detail and how they enhanced the work.
Stage and screen
Performing in a large theatre auditorium might mean that many of the audience are a long way away. It’s the actors’ job to communicate their role to fit the space effectively. Facial expressions, like body language, may be heightened or exaggerated so that the character’s intentions are clear for all.it’s much closer and intimate. This is reflected in acting style and facial expressions may be more subtle. Even a slight alteration of an actor’s field of vision can indicate a change of thought.
Gesture is an important part of the drama medium. It’s usually included with movement and mime. The most significant is usually hand gestures. However, gestures can also amplify a question, such as pointing in a particular direction, can also convey a mood, such as a shrug of the shoulders to convey indifference. A more subtle gesture would be arms out, almost as though you plan to hug someone, but you are using the gesture to embrace a crowd of people as you say, 'Welcome!' Body language and facial expressions can give away a character’s real intentions to the audience.
A movements is consider such as rushing in and coming right up to the character onstage, or stamping your foot and exiting hurriedly. These movements could be used by a child character, the first to express happiness and the second to convey annoyance.
A realistic well-rounded character may have a distinct physical mannerism, something that’s unique to them. A nervous habit of scratching your nose, a vain flick of the hair or an exaggerated limp are all possible ideas to build a character’s mannerisms. Think of familiar character types on stage or on screen and the mannerisms or movement that define them.