What’s wrong with your face?
As artists and performers when we are onstage we are communicating with the audience. It could be a simple message “look at this cool stuff I can do” or a more complex existential rumination on our existence; I’m not here today to judge the message. As human beings we do most of our communicating with our faces, and it doesn’t matter what other amazing things you are doing with your body when your face tells me “I just crapped my pants” that is the message I am getting. Whenever I see a performer deforming their face it tells me a few things.
1. The artist is not fully in control of what they are doing. Clearly the human being has the ability to control their face, yet they are unaware of what their face is doing so I know they don’t have enough control to extend their body awareness up to their face.
2. They are most likely a green performer. A seasoned performer should either be comfortable enough with the act so they can be aware of their entire body or should be controlled enough to isolate their face from the stress they are putting their body through.
3. This is most likely a green act. If this act has been working and no one has yet told the performer what their face looks like, well they need some new friends. If you don’t have friends this is the 21st century grab a camera and record your act, I bet you are doing a lot of things you didn’t realize.
I know it’s enticing to spend that last bit of rehearsal time practicing the one or two edgy tricks, and trick are valuable. But I’ll just put this out there, take some of that time and put some thought into what your entire body is communicating to the audience. Have a friend watch, or just record your act; whatever works for you. Just like you practice pointing your toes and extending through your leg you HAVE to practice what you are communicating with your face. I have seen near countless acts marred by a careless attention to face. There are over 40 muscles up there and what they are doing is just as important as what the rest of your body is doing. It is a small thing, easy to forget that makes a MASSIVE difference. An audience will almost always prefer an act were the artist looks at ease than one where the performer has Popeye face.