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How to Cry on Command | Acting Tips to Cry on Command

Cry on Command
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Learn cry on command. Acting tips for how to cry on command.

Table of Contents:

I. Introduction

  • Definition and context of crying on command
  • The relevance of the ability in acting

II. The Science Behind Crying

  • Brief overview of the biological mechanisms involved in crying
  • Emotional vs. physical triggers for tears

III. The Importance of Crying on Command in Acting

  • Emotional authenticity and its impact on performance
  • Specific instances where the ability to cry on command is crucial

IV. Techniques to Cry on Command

  • Emotional Recall Technique: Using personal experiences
  • Substitution Technique: Replacing characters' emotions with personal emotions
  • The “Do Not Blink” Technique: Physical method to produce tears
  • Using a Tear Stick or Tear Blower: Cosmetic tools for crying scenes

V. Exercises to Improve the Ability to Cry on Command

  • Daily emotional recall exercises
  • Practicing in front of a mirror
  • Training with a drama coach

VI. Cautions and Considerations when Crying on Command

  • The importance of mental health and boundaries
  • Avoiding overuse or misuse of emotional recall

VII. Conclusion

  • Summarizing the importance and techniques for crying on command
  • Encouragement for continuous learning and practice in acting

VII. Frequently Asked Questions


The art of acting is one that requires the personification of a wide range of emotions and expressions. Among these, one of the most challenging feats for any actor, be it on the silver screen, a stage, or in a series, is to cry on command. It is often considered the litmus test for the breadth and depth of an actor's skillset. As such, learning how to cry on command is a critical skill for aspiring and professional actors alike. But what exactly does it mean to cry on command?

Crying on command refers to the ability of an actor to shed tears as and when the script or scene demands, often without the aid of external stimuli like glycerin or menthol. Unlike spontaneous crying, which is an emotional response to certain stimuli, crying on command necessitates deliberate control over one's physiological and emotional responses. It's a skill that is honed over time and demands a keen understanding of one's emotional range, the ability to tap into past experiences, and a profound grasp of the human condition.

The significance of crying on command in the acting realm cannot be overstated. In many ways, it's a physical manifestation of an actor's emotional agility. By successfully crying on command, an actor can deliver an authentic and compelling performance that resonates with the on an emotional level. An actor's ability to evoke tears convincingly can turn a scene from merely good to unforgettable, drawing audiences deeper into the story.

However, crying on command is about more than just demonstrating an actor's emotional depth. It's about transforming written words into tangible emotion and bridging the gap between fiction and reality. When an actor cries on command, they breathe life into a character, making the audience in the narrative, sympathize with the characters, and invest emotionally in the plot.

Moreover, crying on command is not solely about shedding tears. It encompasses the whole gamut of emotions that accompany the act of crying — the sorrow, the heartache, the frustration, or the relief. It's about embodying the emotional state of a character in its entirety and conveying it convincingly to the audience. The tears are merely the most visible aspect of a much deeper and complex emotional performance.

The ability to cry on command, therefore, is a testament to an actor's emotional intelligence, empathy, and technical prowess. It is a potent tool in the actor's arsenal, enabling them to express the emotional complexities of their character and to resonate with the audience on a profoundly emotional level. 

In conclusion, the ability to cry on command is a remarkable skill that requires an intricate blend of emotional depth, technical skill, and physiological control. It's a skill that separates the good from the great and a necessity for anyone serious about their craft in the world of acting. 

Whether you are an actor wanting to deepen your range, or someone interested in understanding the intricacies of the acting world, learning how to cry on command offers fascinating insights into the complexity and depth of the human emotional landscape and its portrayal on stage and screen.

II. The Science Behind Crying: An Exploration of the Biology and Triggers

Crying, also known as weeping, is a universal human experience, a natural response to a wide array of emotional and physical stimuli. Yet, behind this seemingly simple act is a fascinating interplay of biology and psychology. Understanding the science behind crying can provide us with a deeper appreciation of our humanity, and in the context of acting, it serves as a valuable tool to enhance authenticity and emotional expression.

On a basic level, crying involves the production and release of tears from the lacrimal glands, which are situated in the upper, outer portion of our eye sockets. When stimulated, these glands produce a fluid commonly known as tears that serve to clean and lubricate the eyes. Beyond this basic function, tears play several roles in emotional expression, communication, and even pain relief.

The act of crying can be divided into three types: basal, reflex, and psychic. Basal tears are constantly produced to keep the eyes moist. Reflex tears are triggered by irritants like smoke, dust, or onions. The third type, psychic tears, are what we typically associate with crying in response to emotions or pain. These are the tears that we will on.

Psychic tears are triggered by a complex network of signals in our brain. When we experience strong emotions or physical pain, our limbic system (the emotional center of the brain) sends a signal to the hypothalamus (a small region at the base of our brain). This communication leads to the autonomic nervous system stimulating the lacrimal glands to produce tears, resulting in what we experience as crying.

Emotional triggers for tears are diverse, encompassing both positive and negative emotions. Feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, or even extreme happiness can trigger crying. Many researchers believe that crying in response to emotions is a highly evolved behavior, serving as a signal of distress or a plea for help. This “emotional crying” is considered uniquely human and is not observed in other species. 

Physical triggers, on the other hand, can include pain or discomfort, but also extend to responses to certain physiological states such as fatigue or illness. Crying can also occur as a response to specific sensory stimuli like bright lights, or as a reflex to protect the eyes from potential harm.  

In the context of acting, understanding these triggers can help performers tap into this natural response more effectively. An actor might leverage emotional recall, tapping into past experiences that stirred similar emotions to those being portrayed. Alternatively, understanding the physical response to stimuli like bright lights or the “do not blink” method might be used to stimulate tear production. 

Crying, in all its complexity, reveals an intricate interplay of our emotional and physiological selves. While the biological process of producing tears is a physical one, the triggers are deeply connected to our psychological state, whether that be an emotion or a response to physical sensations. As such, the act of crying, especially on command, requires a deep understanding of both our bodies and our emotions. It's not simply a physical act, but a whole-body response to our internal state.

In conclusion, the science behind crying presents a fascinating study of human behavior and biology. Whether tears are shed from joy, sorrow, or physical discomfort, they offer a testament to our shared human experience. For actors, harnessing this understanding can significantly enhance their ability to convey genuine emotion, making performances more believable and impactful. Whether you're an actor, or just someone interested in the intricacies of human behavior, the science of crying is certainly worth shedding a tear over.

III. The Importance of Crying on Command in Acting

The craft of acting demands a wide array of skills, each contributing to the art of bringing a character to life. Yet few skills are as emotionally charged and immediately impactful as the ability to cry on command. This unique skill is about more than merely shedding tears; it's about conveying raw, authentic emotion that resonates with an audience and drives a narrative forward. In this section, we'll explore the importance of crying on command in acting, focusing on the role of emotional authenticity and the crucial instances where this ability comes to the fore.

Emotional authenticity is the cornerstone of compelling performance in acting. It is the bridge that connects the audience to the character, the thread that weaves the narrative together, and the mirror that reflects our own human experiences. When an actor cries on command, it's not the act of crying itself that moves the audience—it's the genuine emotion behind those tears. It's the character's pain, grief, joy, or relief that the audience feels in those moments, which makes the experience truly immersive. 

Actors who can cry on command have the power to dig deep into their characters' emotional layers, making their performances more nuanced, believable, and engaging. These tears are not a symbol of weakness but rather a testament to the character's humanity, vulnerability, and resilience. They are a raw and visible manifestation of the inner emotional journey that the character is undertaking.

A study by neuroscientist Paul J. Zak that watching others go through emotional experiences can cause viewers to experience similar emotions, a reaction caused by the brain releasing a hormone called oxytocin. Hence, an actor's authentic emotional display—like crying—can stimulate the audience's empathy, making them more invested in the character's story.

But crying on command is not just about displaying emotional authenticity—it's also about delivering performance when it counts the most. There are specific instances in scripts, often at pivotal points in the story, where the ability to cry on command is absolutely crucial.

Consider intense drama scenes, where a character's dream shatters, or they experience a profound loss. The script may call for the character to break down and cry. In these situations, the actor's ability to cry on command can heighten the emotional intensity of the scene, leaving a lasting impact on the audience.

Or think about climactic moments of catharsis, where tears represent a release of pent-up emotions. It might be a character finally confronting a painful past or achieving a long-pursued goal. These tears, prompted by overwhelming relief or joy, can be just as moving as tears of sadness, and they require the same skill to produce on cue.

Moreover, crying scenes often serve as turning points in character arcs. They can signal a transformation, a moment of realization, or a decision that propels the narrative into a new direction. Thus, being able to cry on command enables an actor to contribute meaningfully to the story's development.

In conclusion, the ability to cry on command is more than a party trick—it's a vital tool in an actor's kit. By tapping into emotional authenticity and meeting the demands of the script, actors can use this skill to enhance their performances, make their characters more relatable, and truly immerse the audience in the story. However, it's also essential to approach this skill with care, maintaining a healthy balance between emotional authenticity and emotional well-being, which we'll explore later in this article.

IV. Techniques to Cry on Command

The ability to cry on command is an invaluable skill for any actor. It not only bolsters the authenticity of the character's emotions but also adds depth to the storyline. Mastering the ability to cry on cue is a testament to the actor's commitment to craft, enhancing the overall viewing experience for the audience. Today, we'll discuss several techniques that can help one achieve this, from tapping into personal emotions to using physical stimuli. 

The first technique we'll delve into is the Emotional Recall Technique. This method involves mining your past and using personal experiences to elicit the required emotion. If the scene calls for sorrow, think back to a moment in your life where you felt genuinely distressed or upset. The key here is not just to remember the situation but to relive the feelings associated with it. To make this method effective, one must practice recalling these memories while detaching them from the original context. This requires practice and emotional strength, as it might involve revisiting painful memories. However, when done correctly, the Emotional Recall Technique can significantly enhance the authenticity of your performance.

Next up is the Substitution Technique. This technique, like the Emotional Recall Technique, revolves around harnessing your own emotions. However, instead of linking your emotions directly to the scene, the Substitution Technique involves replacing your character's emotions with your own. For instance, if your character is going through a heartbreaking moment but you cannot relate to the specific situation, think of a different scenario that makes you feel the same way. By substituting the character's emotional context with one from your own life, you can still portray the intended emotion accurately.

The “Do Not Blink” Technique is a more physical approach to producing tears. This technique is as simple as it sounds – you refrain from blinking for as long as possible. By keeping your eyes open, they naturally begin to dry out, which causes discomfort and triggers your tear ducts to produce and release tears. However, this technique might take some time to take effect, so it's best used when there's a build-up to the emotional scene.

Finally, we have the use of Tear Sticks or Tear Blowers, which are cosmetic tools used to stimulate crying. Tear sticks are infused with menthol, which irritates the eyes enough to produce tears. You apply it under your eyes, much like , and within moments, your eyes will well up with tears. Tear blowers, on the other hand, are small, hand-held devices that blow a gentle stream of air into your eyes, causing them to water. Both these tools are widely used in the film and television industry when natural tears are hard to come by.

It's essential to note that these techniques are merely tools to aid an actor's performance, not crutches to lean on. Real acting comes from a place of understanding and truth. While these techniques might stimulate tears, the emotion behind those tears still needs to come from a genuine place. So, whether you're summoning up past experiences, swapping out emotional scenarios, holding back a blink, or resorting to cosmetic tools, remember – the best performances are those that communicate the truth of the character's emotions. And that, at its core, is the real art of acting.

V. Exercises to Improve the Ability to Cry on Command

Exercises to Improve the Ability to Cry on Command

While acting requires various skills, crying on command is one ability that can add an extra layer of authenticity to a character's emotional depth. Some performers naturally have this ability, but for others, it's a technique that requires consistent practice. If you're wondering how to improve your ability to cry on command, here are some exercises that can help:

Daily Emotional Recall Exercises

An emotional recall exercise is a well-recognized acting technique based on the principle of Method Acting, where you use your past emotional experiences to express your character's emotions more authentically. Essentially, you're drawing upon your personal memory bank of feelings to bring genuine tears to your eyes.

Begin by setting aside 15-20 minutes each day in a quiet, comfortable space. Close your eyes and allow your mind to wander back to an experience that brought you to tears. It could be a heartbreak, loss of a loved one, or even an overwhelming moment of joy or gratitude. Allow yourself to immerse in the emotions, details, and context of that experience. Remember, this is a safe space for you to explore these feelings. As you get more comfortable with this exercise, you'll notice that it becomes easier to tap into these emotions, and consequently, easier to cry on cue.

Practicing in Front of a Mirror

Practicing in front of a mirror is a straightforward yet powerful exercise to improve your crying on command skills. It provides an opportunity for you to observe your facial expressions and body language as you transition into an emotional state. Furthermore, it can help you identify any discomfort or unnatural movements that you might need to address.

Spend some time each day standing or sitting in front of a mirror. Once again, tap into your reservoir of emotional experiences, or use a monologue that requires a high degree of emotion. As you reach the peak of your emotional state, observe your facial expressions. Do your eyes well up naturally? Are there any tension lines on your face that might hint at forced crying? Remember, genuine crying is not just about the tears; your entire face should reflect the emotion you're feeling.

Training with a Drama Coach

While the first two exercises are things you can do on your own, working with a drama coach can take your skills to the next level. A professional coach can provide valuable insights into your technique, giving you personalized advice to improve. 

A drama coach can guide you through emotional exercises, helping you tap into your feelings more effectively. They can also teach you various acting methods, like the Stanislavski's System or the Meisner Technique, that focus on emotional authenticity. Moreover, a coach can provide constructive criticism on your performances, helping you understand where you excel and where you need improvement. 

Working with a drama coach may require an investment of both time and money, but the benefits you gain—enhanced skills, industry insights, and personalized feedback—can significantly improve your ability to cry on command and your acting skills more broadly. 

In conclusion, improving your ability to cry on command is a journey that requires patience, practice, and vulnerability. These exercises are meant to guide you, but it's important to remember that each actor's journey is unique. What works for one might not work for another. So, feel free to adapt these exercises to suit your comfort level and emotional landscape. With time and consistent practice, you'll find yourself becoming more proficient in crying on command, adding a new depth to your performances.

VI. Cautions and Considerations when Crying on Command

Crying on command is a powerful tool for an actor, allowing them to portray deeply emotional moments with authenticity and intensity. However, it's not a skill that should be used lightly or without consideration. There are several important factors actors should be aware of when using this technique to ensure they maintain their mental health and personal boundaries.

The Importance of Mental Health and Boundaries

Firstly, it's essential to understand that acting, like any form of artistic expression, can take a mental and emotional toll on individuals. This is especially true when engaging in emotionally intense scenes or using techniques like emotional recall. For this reason, mental health should always be a priority. It's crucial to take care of oneself and ensure one's well-being isn't compromised for the sake of a performance.

It can be easy to lose oneself in a role, particularly when accessing deeply personal emotions to cry on command. It's crucial to establish and maintain boundaries between oneself and one's character to avoid emotional drain or confusion. One must remember that they are an actor performing a role and the feelings being evoked, while real, are being used for a specific purpose within a contained environment.

Implementing self-care strategies, such as meditation, relaxation techniques, and regular counseling or therapy, can be beneficial for actors. These practices can help to separate their own experiences from those of their characters, allowing for emotional release and rejuvenation after performances.

Avoiding Overuse or Misuse of Emotional Recall

Emotional recall is an extremely powerful technique, allowing actors to tap into their personal experiences to portray emotions realistically. However, this doesn't mean it should be the only tool in an actor's emotional arsenal or that it should be used all the time. Over-reliance on emotional recall can lead to emotional exhaustion and may even blur the lines between the actor's emotions and their character's.

Additionally, misuse of emotional recall can result in damage to one's mental health. If an actor repeatedly recalls traumatic or deeply distressing experiences for the sake of a performance, they risk re-traumatizing themselves. This is especially true if they don't have a healthy outlet for processing these emotions outside of their performances.

It's crucial to use emotional recall responsibly. Actors should ensure they're emotionally prepared to handle the feelings they're bringing up and that they have support systems in place to help them process these emotions. They should also consider alternate methods for reaching emotional authenticity in their performances, such as Meisner's technique of using imaginary circumstances.

In conclusion, crying on command can be an incredibly effective tool for actors, allowing them to bring raw emotion and authenticity to their performances. However, it's vital to use this skill responsibly and with full awareness of the potential emotional impact. By prioritizing mental health, establishing personal boundaries, and using emotional recall responsibly, actors can use the power of crying on command without compromising their well-being.

VII. Conclusion

In the dynamic and ever-evolving realm of acting, possessing a diverse array of skills can distinguish you from the crowd and set you on a path to success. One such ability, and a potent one at that, is the capacity to cry on command. This poignant skill has the potential to elevate a performance from good to exceptional, transforming an actor's interpretation into a deeply emotive and memorable experience for the viewer.

The capacity to cry on command is not merely an exhibition of raw talent; it's a testament to an actor's ability to delve deep into the character's psyche, empathize with their experiences, and manifest their emotions in an authentic and compelling way. It allows actors to humanize their characters, endowing them with depth and complexity. A tearful performance can resonate with audiences on a profound level, creating an emotional bond that ensures the character's journey lingers in the mind long after the curtains close.

The process of eliciting tears on cue, as we've seen, is not as straightforward as one might expect. It's not about showcasing sorrow or distress in a generic sense, but about embodying the unique emotional journey of the character in the context of the narrative. Achieving this requires a nuanced understanding of different techniques and a commitment to the practice.

The techniques we discussed earlier – emotional recall, substitution, the “do not blink” method, and the use of cosmetic tools such as tear sticks or blowers – offer a range of options to explore. While some actors may naturally gravitate towards certain methods, the key lies in experimenting with different techniques to find the one that best aligns with your acting and emotional vocabulary.

Each technique, while effective, comes with its unique considerations. Emotional recall and substitution can provide potent material for tearful performances, but they demand a high degree of emotional intelligence and control. Repeatedly delving into personal emotional reservoirs can be mentally taxing, emphasizing the importance of maintaining healthy emotional boundaries. On the other hand, physical techniques and cosmetic aids, while less emotionally draining, may not convey the same level of emotional authenticity, and may require more practice to master.

Beyond the acquisition of these techniques, the journey to becoming adept at crying on command is a testament to the broader ethos of acting – continuous learning and practice. In an industry characterized by its competitiveness, continuous skill development is not merely beneficial, but essential. In addition to learning new techniques, actors must also constantly refine their craft, engaging in regular practice sessions and seeking feedback to enhance their performances.

And so, as we draw our discussion on crying on command to a close, it's important to remember that acting, at its heart, is about truthful representation of the human condition. Whether it's shedding tears of joy, sorrow, frustration, or any other emotion, the capacity to evoke these feelings authentically and consistently is a testament to an actor's commitment to their craft.

Remember, crying on command is not just about showcasing your ability to shed tears on cue; it's about demonstrating your understanding of your character's emotional landscape and your capacity to convey it convincingly to the audience. So, keep practicing, keep learning, and most importantly, keep pushing your boundaries. In the world of acting, the only limit to what you can achieve lies in the power of your imagination and your willingness to explore it. As they say in the industry, “The show must go on.” Make sure you are prepared for when the spotlight turns to you.

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