In 1899, Charles Darwin Published a book, "The Expression of The Emotions In Man And Animals" In the book, he stated a theory that humans express emotions in a specific universal way that everyone can universally understand. Then in 2022, Professor Lisa Fieldman Barrett from Northeastern University published a paper in the renowned magazine Scientific American proving Darwin's theory of universal facial expressions being wrong. Still, within the World of acting, a respected actor needs to correctly recognize, show and present emotions in a way that is well understood by most of the population. Among the contemporary acting teachers John Sudol with his series of books on this topic is especially worth mentioning as familiarity with his detailed work is essential for any serious actor nowadays. 


Face: Eyelids and brows raised, mouth drops open. 

Trigger: The surprise might be positive or negative. You can be positively surprised, oh, I've got a new phone, and you might be negatively surprised, oh, my dog made a wee wee on the carpet. But triggers might be individual, you might get a new phone every year (not me) and your dog might do his business in the living room all the time. The surprise trigger is something that is very specific to you.


Face: Eyelids dropped, corners of the lips going down, bottom lip down

Trigger: Think of a sorrow or dramatic experience in your life, when your pet passed away or when you've learned that the cute boy you had a crush on already has a girlfriend.


Face: Eyelids lowered, mouth shut, jaw tight, brows tight

Trigger: Think of the time when the boy that was sitting behind you pulled your hair, or you got pushed by this nasty girl from your class. Think I will get you, and you will regret it.


Face: Asymmetrical, one part of the face smirking with eyebrow raised, the other normal

Trigger: Think of the situation when this nasty girl got caught cheating on the test. Or of a situation when the boy that was flexing so much ab out his basketball or music skills got over-flexed by someone else.


Face: Brows and upper eyelid raised, lips opened

Trigger: Gosh, think of a huge troll with a ginormous axe about to invade your room, a ginormous spider, a tiger, a mouse, or a tiny little fluffy bunny in case you've spent your whole life in a tower somewhere in the middle of nowhere entrapped by your a wicked witch. Whatever makes you truly terrified.


Face: Nose trying to stop the smell, eyes narrow, upper lip raised, mouth closed

Trigger: Like think you're preventing yourself from smelling something disgusting or preventing yourself from vomiting, you wish to close your nose, mouth and all the senses. Think of the broccoli, or spinach, think of having to eat a cockroach or think of entering a public washroom and finding out that someone didn't flushed the toilet after his business, 


Face: eyes smiling with wrinkles on the side, teeth showed, mouth smiling

Trigger: Think of happy memory, when you booked the first role or when you heard about the BCActing website and started following us on Instagram. This is such a cheap auto-promotion, but maybe it made you smile. 

The Expression Of The Emotions In Man And Animals

This book by Charles Darwin is available for free through Project Gutenberg

How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain

The book by prof. Lisa Fieldman Barrett about emotions

Acting Face to Face - Book 1

In the first book, John Sudol goes into detail about emotions and teaches how to recognize them. (Please note there are two editions, the second edition is expanded)

Acting Face to Face - Book 2

In the second book, John Sudol teaches how to fix facial emotions and re-calibrate them