Here is an updated list of over 200 words describing facial expression in performance which should prove useful for students of drama and theatre.
Often as part of their coursework, students undertake a written analysis of a live theatre performance. Part of this task normally involves evaluating the actors’ use of expressive skills.
Drama and theatre students are often required to analyse and evaluate their own solo or ensemble work developed in the classroom. These written pieces may form part of a regular drama journal kept on a class-by-class or weekly basis. Occasionally, performance analyses are also written for formal assessment or on end of semester examinations. These tasks commonly involve describing the use of facial expressions by one or more performers.
Ever found yourself repeating the same old words or phrases in a class essay about how an actor used facial expressions in a performance? For years I received them same old responses from my drama and theatre students. How many times can you say she had a furrowed brow, pursed lips, or conveyed a gentle glance to another character on stage? Don’t worry. You’re not alone! I soon realised this was my fault as their teacher because I did not provide my students with a set of powerful words describing facial expression in performance, beyond our frequently used phrases.
Students of drama and theatre often find those tiny movements of lips, eyes, cheeks and skin notoriously difficult to describe. Part of the problem lies in the fact that they are so small. It’s relatively easy to describe an actor’s movement on stage because it is usually clearly visible and easily interpreted. But not so with facial expressions.
While musical theatre is renowned for having actors use large facial expressions to convey emotion, straight dramas are another challenge altogether. Subtle use of facial expression is often deliberate in stage plays and can convey a lot about a character. But once you have spotted them, how do you describe them in detail, academically, and without sounding clichéd?
This curated list of words below should prove helpful for students trying to successfully describe an actor’s use facial expression in performance.
231 Powerful Words Describing Facial Expression In Performance
Not sure of the meaning of a word on the list? Look it up in the dictionary.