Understanding the Use of Voice and Gesture in Performance

When carrying out a performance, your voice and gestures are powerful tools that can bring the performance to life. Let’s look at how you can use them effectively.

Using Volume, Pitch, Pace and Tone of Voice

Your voice can convey a range of emotions and create different effects. Here’s how:

  • Volume – A loud voice can show anger or excitement, whereas a soft voice can show sadness or fear.
  • Pitch – A high pitch can convey tension or excitement, while a low pitch can convey seriousness or calm.
  • Pace – Speaking quickly can show nervousness or excitement and speaking slowly can add emphasis or show calmness.
  • Tone – A cheerful tone can convey happiness and a flat tone can convey boredom or sadness.

For example, if you’re playing a character who’s just won the lottery, you might use a loud volume, high pitch, quick pace and cheerful tone to show their excitement.

Using Gestures, Facial Expressions and Body Language

Your gestures, facial expressions and body language can reinforce your spoken message and show your character’s emotions.

  • Gestures – These can show your character’s feelings or attitudes. A shrug can show indifference, while a fist pump can show excitement.
  • Facial Expressions – These can show your character’s emotions. A smile can show happiness, while a frown can show sadness.
  • Body Language – This can show your character’s attitudes or feelings. Standing tall can show confidence, while slumping can show defeat.

Adapting Voice and Gestures

Different characters, moods and settings require different uses of voice and gesture.

For example, a king might speak in a loud, slow, low-pitched voice and use grand gestures, while a child might speak in a high-pitched, quick voice and use small, energetic gestures.

Using Pauses or Silence for Dramatic Effect

Pauses or silence can add drama, create suspense or give the audience time to absorb important information. For example, you might pause before revealing a key piece of information to build suspense.

Consider this example from a dramatic monologue:

“I stood there, in the middle of the room, everyone’s eyes on me. I took a deep breath… (pause) and then I told them the truth.”

The pause here builds suspense and draws the audience in, making the revelation more impactful.