Showing moods and emotions

5 different types of body language: Dominance, Submission, Happiness, Sadness, Worry

Being able to recognise where changes in mood and emotion in a script occur is important because you need to convey these changes to your audience. The meaning of the words as well as the punctuation used in the script can really help here (sometimes there are stage directions to help, too, although not usually in Shakespeare).

Actors express emotion through:

  • facial expression
  • body language
  • gesture
  • pace, volume and tone of voice
  • effective use of pauses and silence



Using these methods, decide how you would express the emotion of anger.

What happens to your face, body and voice when you feel angry? How do you walk when you're in a bad mood? Which gestures do you use to show someone you're angry with them?

  • Facial expression - frown, tightly clenched jaw, a tight mouth or even bared teeth.
  • Body language - tense shoulders, a swift and purposeful walk, almost like a march.
  • Gesture - strong and forceful gestures. Perhaps even clenched fists.
  • Volume, tone and pace - either very loud and out of control or very quiet and menacing.
  • Pauses - maybe if you're very angry you won't pause often, you'll talk very quickly without giving the other person a chance to talk; or the pauses might be long - a deafening silence.

Now try this with other emotions, eg, surprise, excitement, happiness, sadness. See how your body, face and voice change with each emotion.

Mood walks

Another way to practise emotions is to do ‘mood walks’ - put all the elements together to develop a walk that represents each emotion, then greet (or growl at!) people with the appropriate tone of voice.