It happens all the time in young or beginning actors. You’re sitting in the audience and out of the corner of your eye you catch it – an actor starts to shift back and forth on their feet. Their hands drift up and down for no reason. Wanderitis. It becomes the sole focus of your attention. All you can see is the shift, shift, shift. It’s impossible to pay attention to the action on stage.
Wanderitis is often an unconscious movement. Actors don’t even know they’re doing it. They think they’re doing great – they’ve learned their lines, they’re emoting, they’re acting.
Creative work becomes compromised when a student has wanderitis.
When an actor has wanderitis that means they’re not fully focused on their actions. They’re distracted. They haven’t thought fully about their character from head to toe. Wanderitis is rarely a character driven movement.
When an actor is in character, they made choices as to how to stand, how to move, how to gesture. They can describe their character’s physical presence. They can demonstrate character without ever saying a word – it’s all in the body.
Ask your students these questions to get them thinking about the physicality of their character:
- What are three words that describe your character’s physicality?
- Is your character heavy or light? How does this affect their stance? Their posture?
- Is your character bound or loose? How does this affect their stance? The way they move?
- Is your character fast or slow? How does this affect their body? The way they move?
Get your students used to standing and moving in character. Make it part of any character development they do when working on a monologue or scene. Have your students create silent movement moments for their character where they have to enter, complete an action and then exit. Are the movements defined? Are the movements character driven? Is every gesture specifically chosen?
Share this video with your students on what wanderitis is, and an exercise you can do to try and stop it.
You can also download and print the “Don’t let your feet drag you down” poster below for your classroom – including tips for curing Wanderitis.Click here to download the poster!