The 39 Steps: Performers' physical interpretation of character (build, age, height, facial features, movement, posture, gesture, facial expression)

The 39 Steps: Performers’ physical interpretation of character (build, age, height, facial features, movement, posture, gesture, facial expression)

#Understanding the characters

  • Begin with a comprehensive grasp of all of the character’s physical attributes including age, height, and build as outlined in ‘The 39 Steps’ script. An understanding of these traits will provide helpful hints about the character’s mannerisms, postures, and movements.

#Interpretation of Character Traits

  • Learn to portray these physical features realistically using your own body. For instance, think about how you would modify your physicality to represent an older character? This could require changes in your movement speed, posture, and the effort level in your gestures.

#Mimicry and posture

  • Attaining your character’s posture is vital in theatre. Your entire body should reflect the character’s age, physical wellness, and social standing. This may require studying individuals similar to your character or even actors who have previously performed that role.

#Subtle Gestures

  • Take great care with the small details - a character’s unique quirks and their subtle gestures. The way your character fidgets, or interacts with their belongings, can reveal much about their personality and mental state.

#Facial Expression

  • Facial features and expressions are critical for conveying a character’s emotional state. A thorough understanding of the emotional nuances associated with your character will support you in nailing their facial expressions. A character’s facial expressions should always match their speech and actions.

#Physicality and emotion

  • Always remember that a character’s physicality is closely linked to their emotional state. Emotions such as stress, happiness, anger, and worry all dramatically affect our movements and posture.

#Body Language

  • Acquaint yourself with body language. How a character stands, moves, and gestures can inform the audience about their character traits, feelings, and relations with other characters.


  • Maintain consistency in your depiction of a character’s physicality throughout the entire performance. This assists the audience in believing in your rendition of the character.


  • Frequently practice the character’s physical traits to make them second nature. This will result in a more natural and convincing performance.

Remember: The objective is to entirely inhabit the character, allowing the audience to believe in the reality you’re constructing.