Performance: Physical Performance Skills

Performance: Physical Performance Skills

Understanding Physical Performance Skills in Drama

  • Physical performance skills are integral to drama and must be developed and refined over time.
  • Developing physical skills requires practise and discipline, including warm-ups and exercises.
  • These skills are fundamentally about how an actor uses their body to communicate a character to the audience.
  • The aim of mastering these physical skills is to enable a performer to immerse themselves so fully into a character that the audience is convinced by their portrayal.

Techniques of Physical Performance

  • Posture is a vital physical skill. Different characters will stand, sit and move in different ways reflecting aspects such as age, health status, social position, and personality.
  • Facial expression is another key physical skill. It is a direct reflexion of a character’s emotional state and relates to other elements such as tone of voice.
  • Gestures and movements can denote character traits or emotions. For example, a nervous character may fidget or make small, jittery moves.
  • Spatial awareness is a necessary physical skill meaning understanding the space around you and how your character would interact with it.
  • Eye contact can be a powerful tool. It can show connection or tension between characters or break the ‘fourth wall’ to engage the audience.
  • Blocking refers to the planned movements on the stage, considering character dynamics, set design, and the visual presentation of the scene.
  • Stamina and physical fitness are also part of physical skills. Drama performance can be physically demanding, so maintaining fitness and endurance is important.

Approaching Characterisation and Performance

  • Characterisation involves incorporating physical skills with voice, character profile, and context.
  • Physicality extends to props and costume. Actors need to be comfortable and practised in their use as they become an extension of the character on the stage.
  • Remember, physical performance is not just about grand, exaggerated movements. Subtle changes in posture, expression, or gesture can be incredibly powerful in conveying character and emotion.
  • It’s essential to remember that effective physical performance is a combination of the performer’s interpretation of a character and the director’s vision. Both must work in harmony to create a credible performance.