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Eye contact should also be appropriate to the piece and character. If the character is shy, reserved, or uncertain; it would be natural for the character to look down or “off in the distance” and not make direct eye contact.
But there are other ways to convey “shy” with body language: closed shoulders, limbs close to the body, angling the body away from the audience (but keeping the head turned slightly to the audience), angling the head down but have the eyes still looking up toward the audience.
An effective way to coach Solo Acting is to think about who the character is talking to and where that other person is within the performance space. Choose a place within the performance place for that “other person” to be. That “other person” doesn’t have to be standing where the audience is sitting. He/she could be sitting next to the performer, standing on the opposite side of the room, or even in another location.
Students should look at the judge, but not ONLY at the judge.
In acting categories, a performer should make appropriate eye contact with everyone in the audience, including the judge. Since usually, the actor is not directly addressing the people in the audience, eye contact means that the audience has contact with the eyes of the performer.
I have a coach asking about eye contact in the Humorous Solo category. They want to know where eye contact can be directed to, and if they can look at the judge. The rules/rubrics do not say that you can or can’t look at the judge in any category. Is there any “unwritten” rule that students should only direct eye contact to other people in the room and not the judge?