5 Ways Your Body Is an Amazing Acting Tool

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My favorite tool as an actor and coach is the body. It’s all yours, so use it to its full advantage. To help you get the most out of and celebrate the one and only body you’ll ever have, here are a few tips on how to use it in your acting.

1. Your body helps you own the room.
When you walk into an audition or performance, don’t you want to own that space? Don’t you want to have confidence and power? Your body language says a lot to others and to your own mind. Whatever energy you have will fill that room, so guarantee it’s working for, not against you.

Before you go into an audition, important meeting, or performance, step into a bathroom or private area and do a power stance. Place your feet shoulder-width apart, chest forward and proud, hands in fists on your hips. Or stretch your limbs out to the sides, making a star shape. The idea is to take up space, to expand yourself.

Stay in the pose for a couple of minutes and let your brain tell your body that you feel confident. That surge of energy will travel through your whole aura and in turn, it will influence everyone else in the room when you enter.

2. Your body can stimulate real emotions.
Just as we used a power stance to trigger a feeling of power, we can use physicality to stimulate emotions.

Try sitting in a chair and slumping down as if you were sad, cradling your arms in a protective way. Pull your legs up under the chair and droop your head. Maybe even let out a deep sigh. You’ll start to feel sad, maybe tired or a bit melancholy; that’s your brain responding to your body acting out a feeling of sadness.

Tighten every muscle in your face, neck, shoulders, and body. Make your hands into fists and squint your eyes. Try screaming: “Stop!” Your brain is feeling anger based on your physicality, and you can feel the adrenaline start to flow through your body.

READ: “5 Innovative Ways to Use Your Voice”

3. Your body can create a more specific character through mannerisms.
In order to create a more interesting character, figure out what little mannerisms and habits your character might have unconsciously. Maybe you tug on your ear when nervous. Perhaps you pull your sweater cuffs down over your hands when insecure. Your character might play with her hair or rearrange things nervously. Inflect some original personality quirks and traits without saying a word.

4. Your body can let you move like a character.
One of the triggers I use most when teaching students to be more real is to get them to drop down into the character’s body. By this, I mean just feeling like a flesh and blood human being. Let your character use your senses and instincts. Exist in your body. Sit down like the character. Walk like the character. Open a door like the character. Once you start to move in your character’s body, you start to think like your character.

5. Your body allows you to start a scene naturally.
This is especially good for auditions and camera. You need to be real before the scene even starts or you’ll just start out by repeating lines and trying to indicate things. Trick yourself into being real before the camera starts rolling by giving your character something to do bodily. Is he in the middle of washing dishes? Did she just alk in the door and take off her coat? Get into your body and do it.

Use your body, folks! It will create a reality, set you free, and empower you!

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Cathryn Hartt
Cathryn Hartt, founder of Hartt & Soul Acting Studio, is known to many as “the UN-Acting Coach.” She coaches all ages (children through adult) and all levels (from beginning through masters).
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