Here is a list of words I have compiled that will assist students of drama and theatre to describe an actor’s use of gesture in performance. Often as part of their coursework, students need to analyse the play making process of a piece of their own work or evaluate a performance by themselves or others. Questions about the use of gesture by performers can also appear in written examinations.
Many known gestures are universally recognised as symbolising nervousness, frustration, excitement, etc. Others may simply be used by actors at different times in a performance that require a simple description when analysing them for your drama/theatre studies.
|arms folded||head down||Scout handshake|
|back of hand to forehead||head in hands||scratch|
|biting nails||head shake||sign|
|body shrug||head shrug||stiff|
|car horn sign||head tilt||stroking chin|
|chin in hands||high five||talk to the hand|
|clasping hands||hitchhiking thumb||tapping fingers|
|curtsy||legs crossed||thumbs down|
|finger clicking||loser (L)||thumbs up|
|finger gun||Nazi salute||touching nose|
|fist pump||nervous||two-finger salute|
|glove handshake||patting hair||Vulcan salute|
|gripping hands||peace sign||wave|
|hand over mouth||pointing||wink|
|hands in pockets||raised fist||wooden|
|hands on hips||rubbing ear|
|hands wide apart||rubbing hands|
Not sure of the meaning of a word on the list? Look it up in the dictionary.