“Few realize how loud their expressions really are. Be kind with what you wordlessly say.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich, Making Wishes
An actor uses a variety of tools to convince an audience that he truly has become the character he is playing. As a director, I am constantly encouraging the actor to build his character from the outside in or inside out. I don’t care which way he chooses, but it is a must to combine your body and face for the full character development.
In fact, most of us study the face for clues to what a person is really saying to us. Non-verbal communication becomes essential in acting. Did you know that according to a study by Dr. ‘s Paul Ekman and Wallace Frieseney, they found that, the 42 muscles in the face responsible for expression, can make over 10,000 configurations! 3,000 of these relate to emotions. Amazingly enough, expressing yourself by the use of your face doesn’t come natural to everyone! But it is so important.
I remember vividly being scolded as a youngster for the “tone of my voice.” The words I said and my facial expression might have been communicating one message, but the message that was coming from the tone of my voice made my parents believe I was being disrespectful. (which I probably was. Sadly.) Maybe if I had a twinkle in my eye and a smile on my face I would have gotten away with it….again….probably not.
Often words do not match emotions, but the face can betray what the person is actually feeling. Thus, important in communication, but also in acting.
People’s emotions are rarely put into words , far more often they are expressed through other cues. the key to intuiting another’s feelings is in the ability to read nonverbal channels , tone of voice , gesture , facial expression and the like.
Why do I bring this up now?
You got it. The masks.
Now don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying don’t wear them. I am not saying I don’t believe in them. In fact, when I am around groups of people I will be sporting this beautiful Cubs mask made by SERJ Handiworks (serjhandiworks.com if you want one) But I do think we need to understand that there are risks that go beyond health risks. If we focus on those maybe we can prevent problems that might occur after this year of mask wearing.
If we cover half of our face, we only have half to communicate with. Let’s be aware that we still need to be expressive when we are engaging with others.
In a recent study about Facial paralysis a group was shown videos of people with disorders that affect facial movement, They were then asked for their first impressions based on the videos.
People with severe facial movement impairment were rated as less happy and sociable compared to people with mild facial movement impairment. Participants also had less desire to form friendships with them.
In other words, it is very difficult to conquer the human tendency to form impressions based on facial expressions or lack of them.
In 2001 there was a study done on children to test their face-reading skills. This study showed that children with stronger face-reading skills were more popular, and performed better academically. They also discovered that students who had trouble with face-reading had more trouble making friends and had learning difficulties.
I do not wish to alarm and I’m not even sure I totally agree with the results of the study on face-reading. However, I do believe that we need to be aware that with the masks we need to try harder.
Don’t hide behind your mask. The eyes are the window to your soul. Make an effort to connect with the people you see. Honestly, we are all in need of a human connection. It might be the smile in your eyes that makes a difference in someones’ day.
Who knows? Maybe when we can take those masks off for good we will find that the work we put into our facial expression will offer communication and connections that we would never have made before this whole thing started.
And that would be a very good thing indeed.
2 Corinthians 3:18
‘And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.’
I’d really love to hear from you! Please leave me your comments. But I’d love it if you would share this blog as well!
Until next time!