Diction not only includes patterns of speech, Diction can also mean the lack of a spoken word:  Silence.  Silence is a frequently overlooked, but powerful, meme to employ in an effective life stage performance.

The whisper, the hushed tone, and the silent look are all incredibly powerful moments in performance when employed by a properly trained actor.

You can also be daring and bring to the empty space a completely silent performance.  Audiences will immediately get edgy in the quiet as every cough and fart and giggle from them become part of the hubbub surrounding the silent performance.

A silent performance means a lack of recognizable speech.  A silent performance can be quite noisy with the opening of creaky doors, the shuffling of leather soles across a rough stage and the flappy sound of sheer curtains blowing across an open window.

Silent performances challenge actors to find a way to express a thought from the body in situ instead of relying of vocalization tricks.  Oftentimes a silent performer is more memorable, and infinitely more human, than an actor who relies on voice alone.

I have written and directed many “Silent Performances” for both Deaf and Hearing audiences and I find the quiet incredibly powerful and loud in every memeingful way.


  1. I have a vivid memory of one evening when I was visiting Romania with my father. I was twenty-one at the time and we went to a friend of my father for dinner. One of the older sons of the friend approached one of the other guests there and whispered something into his ear. It was like watching poetry in motion, seeing this whispering.

  2. Silence is powerful in every spehere of life…. I agree David.
    Communicating through silence is one of the toughest job by any director and if you ask me I think the last scene of Roman Holiday ( as far as movies go) would be an effective example of the same…

  3. Here you go….

    I watched this when I was in school, describing the scene would still hurt…
    Those who are yet to watch the film, I have only two words for them – watch it!

  4. That’s a perfect, silent, scene. If you don’t know what happened before, you’re a little lost, but as an example of the power of silence, there’s no doubt it’s a classic moment.

  5. I don’t know how I forgot but somehow I did…here goes another classic – “Battleship Potemkin.”

  6. There are lots of great silent movies. I think the genius is using silence in performance is placing it in the midst of the availability of sound.

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