GUEST POST: How to Avoid Vague Gestures in Interp
You’ve probably all seen at least one interp where the performer points, waves or caresses some imaginary object every third of a second. At that point, you are no longer watching the performance; you’re watching the performer’s hands, wondering if they are going to take flight into a fluorescent light fixture.
On the flip side, you have all probably seen an unfortunate competitor with their hands glued to the side of their body, just staring intensely at you with forehead veins pulsating, or worse staring at a script that they clearly don’t know.
Here are a few helpful tips on how to give your gestures purpose and take your performance to the next level.
- Give your objects weight- If you are picking something up a fifty pound weight in your piece, ensure that your audience knows how heavy it is. To help you get in the moment practice with the actual object that you are miming. Also, don’t forget to recognize as an actor if your invisible object is wet, hot, sharp or smooth.
- Find unique gestures for individual characters- It can help not only build your characterization by giving each character a tick that makes sense, but it can help the judges differentiate between them. Being unable to distinguish between character pops is often times a huge criticism in Interp; just be sure that you select a gesture that makes sense for the character. For instance, in my DI script Falling Down the Rabbit Hole, a young woman chooses to give away her baby, so she might rub her belly every time she is reminded of her baby.
- Find the most powerful moments- If you move every second the movement becomes less impactful and distracting. Mark up your script and find some specific moments where you think a gesture might make a judge feel something. A good rule of thumb is, if the gesture is appropriate for the character and script and will make an audience feel something, then use it. If your gesture does not pass that test, then it is probably not making your piece more effective.
Clint Snyder is an accomplished playwright with over 50 scripts through various publishers. He recently launched a line of scripts on the SpeechGeek Market called Interp Script House