By John Sudol | Article taken from Acting: Face to Face 2nd Edition. To get a copy click
Emotional Alignment is a phrase I use to establish a relationship between what an actor feels and what they reveal on their face. It’s the foundation for speaking the Language of the Face and is based on two factors: inner intensity and outer facial expression.
Inner intensity involves the sensations and impulses you are experiencing internally when an emotion is triggered. You can rate the intensity by noticing changes in your heart rate, breathing, skin temperature, and tension in specific areas of the body, as well as what actions, verbal or physical, you feel compelled to express when you’re experiencing the emotion.
Think of the last time you got really angry. How difficult was it
to control your breath or heart rate? You may not have even been
aware of the changes until you stopped being emotional, but they
were there. While experiencing that emotion, you more than
likely had the impulse to punish, control, or
physically/emotionally hurt the person or thing that triggered
the anger in you. Ever say or do something mean that you
regretted later? Why’d you do it? Because you were angry.
The outer facial expression is based on how many emotionally
related muscle groups appear on your face. As discussed in chapter 3, each of the 7 universal emotions (photo #1) have distinct muscle groups. The more muscle groups that appear on your face, as well as how tense, expanded, contracted, or symmetrical they are, the more intense the expression.
If the inner intensity, without any conscious modification of the expression, is much greater or much less than the outer expression, you are out of emotional alignment.
It’s important to note that emotional alignment is not about what makes you emotional. Although what you’re using as a trigger or the tools you’re using to become emotional may be partly responsible for not being in alignment. It’s also not about how long it takes you to become emotional. Your psychology and internal wiring are chiefly responsible for that. For some, a little conflict sends them over the edge in rage; others have to practically be hit over the head to get any response at all.
Emotional Alignment is more specifically about comparing what you’re experiencing internally with how much your face is revealing. Attaining Emotional Alignment is the first step to understanding how you can level the playing field to achieve what comes so naturally to the 5%.
Following are some of the most common symptoms of being out of Emotional Alignment. Check the ones you can say YES to:
Anyone of these symptoms can be devastating to your on- camera story telling or your success as an on-camera actor and here is why...
If you can't control what your face is expressing - How are
you going to adjust it?
If you don't know how you created it - How are you going to repeat it?
If they don't recognize what's on your face - How can they
If you don’t have an awareness of what you’re
communicating- How are you going to change it?
I know this all sounds
like a little bit of a downer, however, I’ve discovered what you can
do to minimize your distortions and learn to speak this nonverbal
language organically, the way we were meant to. To do this will
take some work on your end. If you’re willing to put the work in, I
guarantee the reward will be well worth it.
At the same time,choosing not to put the work in will reap the same rewards as they did in the past.