Last year I learnt the term for a character's facial expressions showing the audience what they feel, as well as their tone of voice in the stage directions when reading a play. I am currently writing a dissertation and cannot for the life of me remember what the terms were, and cannot find anything online; all i remember is that at least one of them started with a 'p'. Could anyone please help me and tell me what these terms are? Thank you all :)

  • "Indeed, the study of thousands of stage directions does not elicit a technical backstage vocabulary that is the exclusive property of one or another group of theatrical professionals or is linked to specific venues." A Dictionary of Stage Directions ... That said, perhaps you're referring to 'gestural' stage directions (includes facial expressions), also known as 'pantomimic' directions. 'Delivery' directions might be used to refer to tone of voice directions. I could be misunderstanding your question entirely, though. – JEL Apr 22 '16 at 5:54
  • Have a look at the answer. – vickyace Apr 29 '16 at 8:37
  • Are you talking about "miming"? See also "mugging", defn 7 here dictionary.com/browse/mugging – Max Williams Jul 28 '16 at 11:03

Here are a few suggestions

countenance - the face as an indication of mood, emotion, or character

physiognomy- the facial features held to show qualities of mind or character by their configuration or expression

The verb is physiognomize.


If you want an outdated term you may try 'look'.

[WITH OBJECT] dated Express (something) by one’s gaze:
'Poirot looked a question'




  1. pl. per·so·nas or per·so·nae (-nē) The character represented by the voice of the speaker in a literary work.

  2. personae The characters in a dramatic or literary work.


: the personality that a person (as an actor or politician) projects in public : image (emphasis is mine.)



Body language includes a character's facial expressions showing the audience what they feel.

From Wikipedia:

Body language is a kind of nonverbal communication, where thoughts, intentions, or feelings are expressed by physical behaviors, such as facial expressions, body posture, gestures, eye movement, touch and the use of space.

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