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acting  MELODRAMAtically

Here are a slew of suggestions Melodrama actors. Consider this your crash course in being a Hero or a Villain!

Always Remember: That in the first and final analysis - Melodrama is Essentially a Theatre of Emotions. Yours and those of the audience.

A gesture here, an inflection there. “Over the Top” facial and physical expressions that you might typify as sensational, sentimental or thrilling is what audiences expect to see at an old west style melodrama. The acting style brings an exuberance of emotions rather than the more realistic motivations we normally experience in life. And it's fun.

In Melodrama every character, every action, every predicament needs to stay true to their character. The good guys are really good, and the villain is really bad … that's just how it is. Happy endings are the rule and the villain always gets what he deserves in the end. Conflict, misadventure and desperation are resolved at the very last moment, unexpected revelations, unexpected twists or turns are all ingredients of the successful melodrama.

On stage ... the results of small actions taken are not necessarily recognized, but the consequences are foreshadowed to increase the tension inherent in the play. It is not telegraphed but set up so that there is some sense of expectation of what might occur. The decisions that characters ‘might take' and 'might not' take are presented as possible alternatives and the audience can envision.

As a result, when things do not go as might be expected, the audience is moved into a state of wondering of what might happen next. The actors knowing what is actually going to happen can help push the limits of audience frustration and take them where they never thought they would go and it can be a lot of goof family friendly fun.


Exaggerated Melodramatic Emotions

Since the plot lines in melodramas are pretty much "black and white" ... Villain versus Hero ... Evil versus Good, the emotions are also very easy to determine from the audience's perspective. Here is how you might want to express them on stage.


Anger - The actor's hands are both shoulder high … eyebrows are pushed toward each other with the actor's face in a grimace … hands in tight fists.

Fear - The actor's face is turned to the right side… eyes wide … with the right hand to the mouth, fingers curled under touching the top of the palm. Optionally both hands can come to the cheeks with the fingers extended.

 Grief or Sorrow - The actor's shoulders rounded … head down and hands cupping the face. Shoulders rise up and down … with a sobbing noise.

Love (Male) - The actor's chest is held high with his right hand crossing the chest and resting over the heart - opening out to the right and his loved one.

Love (Female) - The actor's chest is held high with her head cocked a bit to one side the opposite leg goes out with foot pointed … hands under the chin … fingers entwined and bent at the first and second knuckles, hands then go out towards her beloved with a broad beaming smile on her face.

Villainous Scheming - One eyebrow up, the other down, a grimace on the face and hands rubbing together, if it is a really good plan, the fingers twiddle.

Villainous Sneaking - Shoulders hunched over, one arm raised to cover the nose on down, eyes free to shift around the room, legs bent on the cross of the stage. If you have one … twirl your black cape or duster as you enter the scene.

Feeling Overwhelmed - Chin up bringing the face to look up, one arm dropped limp to the side, the other hand open with palm towards the audience on the top of the forehead. But don't be overwhelmed ... purchase a Melodrama today! You will be so glad that you did.

Always remember that Melodrama is an audience participation style of entertainment and your villain may want to memorize several dozen snappy “come backs” to the inevitable heckler's remark. A list of these “Heckler Comebacks” is available in Hero and Villain's Website's FREE RESOURCES dropdown. Go ahead and visit that page and explore all of the other great resources available for both villains and heroes alike ... we know you really want to!