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

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

Physical Characteristics

  • Understand the character’s physical characteristics: Every role in The Crucible has distinct physical qualities defined by Arthur Miller. A performer must note the age, height, and build of the character not only to realistically portray them, but to understand how they move, behave, and interact with other characters.

Facial Features and Expressions

  • Facial Features: Use makeup and prosthetics to enhance or modify your natural features to better match the character. Maintaining facial expressions that align with the character’s personality is also crucial. For example, a stern character like Rev. Parris might have permanent frown lines.
  • Facial Expression: This is one of the most significant factors in conveying emotion and character motivations. Expressions should change in response to dialogue and events on stage, helping the audience to follow the character’s emotional journey.

Movement and Gestures

  • Movement: This refers to how a character moves in a given space, relative to their personality, habits, and health. John Proctor, a farmer, is strong and robust, moving with purpose and determination. On the other hand, Abigail, being a young girl, could portray more hurried and excited movements.
  • Gestures: Consider how various characters use their bodies to express emotion or underline the text. Do they use expansive, confident gestures (like Rev. Hale), or do they make themselves smaller and more insignificant (like Mary Warren)?

Posture and Body Language

  • Posture: A character’s posture can tell the audience a lot about their background, status, and even state of mind. Look at characters like Proctor, who stands tall and firm, portraying a commanding presence compared to someone like Tituba, who may stoop or cringe, indicating her lowly status and constant fear.
  • Use effective body language and make deliberate choices: Every physical action, from how a character walks or sits, to how they react to others, should be deliberate and designed to disclose the character’s thoughts, feelings, and intentions.

Interpreting the Character

  • Physical Interpretation: This doesn’t always mean the performer should match the physical description given by Miller exactly. Sometimes, it’s about impacting the narrative. For example, Abigail can be played as taller, more imposing, to signify her metaphorical power over others in Salem.
  • Avoid stereotypes: While some physical attributes can indicate personality traits (e.g., a hunched posture could suggest submission), a rich, complex character cannot be boiled down to one or two physical characteristics. Multiple factors should contribute to the physical interpretation of a character.


  • Voice: While not a physical characteristic, the use of voice is key in performing a character. Accents, voice modulation, speech pace, and tone can highlight a character’s personality and emotional state. For example, Rev. Hale’s voice might sound authoritative and confident at the beginning, but hesitant and regretful towards the end.


Overall, a performer’s physical interpretation of a character in ‘The Crucible’ is about understanding and expressing the character’s nature, status, and psychological state in an engaging and believable manner.