Title: Create a character Subject/Course: Theater
Topic: Character Development Grades: 9-12 Designer: Rachel Kurnos
Content Standards: Theater Arts, standard #1 – Students will…
1.14 Create complex and believable characters through the integration of physical, vocal, and emotional choices
1.15 Demonstrate an understanding of a dramatic work by developing a character analysis
1.17 Demonstrate an increased ability to work effectively alone and collaboratively with a partner or in an ensemble
Theater Arts, standard #5 – Students will…
5.13 Use group-generated criteria to assess their own work and the work of others
5.14 Demonstrate objectivity in assessing their personal abilities and creative endeavors
5.15 Demonstrate the ability to receive and act upon coaching, feedback, and constructive criticism
Understandings: Students will understand that…
• A character’s past is important to understand in order to recognize where they are now and where they are going in the future.
• Finding out their character’s flaws will be one of their greatest tools towards discovery for their character and for themselves.
• Physicalization can reveal just as much about a character (and sometimes more) than words can.
• The important people in their lives influence their work, even if subconsciously.
• Inspiration for developing a character can be found in unconventional places, such as through clothing and music.
• What facts are important to know about your character? Why these facts over others?
• How does movement and voice affect character development?
• How do important moments/failures and mistakes affect how a character acts in everyday life?
• How do you relate to any of the characters that you have created? Why do you think that is?
• How do your character’s traits reflect the important people in your life? Are those traits the good or the bad traits of that person?
Students will know…
• The vocabulary associated with character development.
• The value of creating biographies in the development of a character.
• The many ways of getting into/creating a character.
• The importance of body language in character development.
Students will be able to…
• Create biographies for the characters they choose to work with.
• Create characters through different outlets (music, clothing, etc.).
• Incorporate their created characters into scene work with others.
• Demonstrate their knowledge of their character through journaling, scene work, and monologue work.
• Show their character through full body physicalization.
- Introduction game: Variation on to tell the truth – class split up into three to four groups, everyone writes down something no one in the room knows about them, and other groups have to guess whose secret is whose.
- Go over class syllabus
- Historical people game: students act out important people in history as the rest of the class guesses who they are acting out
- Students chose their favorite actor – all students “step into” that actor, then volunteers go up to get interviewed by the class (the interviewers asking questions as their actor and the interviewee answering questions as their actor)
- On a big sheet of paper, students write out different character types (or stereotypes)
- Act out those character types (groups of five go onstage and when character type is called out, they strike a pose as that type)
- Discuss show vs. tell
- Redo acting out character types with new knowledge
- Students pick a person in their life that they admire – they get into that physicalization and walk around the stage interacting with others as that person
- What age am I: Students are given an age, and without words in groups of four to five they sit at a bus stop and try to show their age through body language
- Students pick a job that they aspire to do; in pairs, students act out that job to their partner and the partner tries to guess the occupation
- What occupation am I: Same as what age am I but with occupations
- Bench Game: One student on bench, one student comes in and tries to get that person off of the bench
- Discussion of tactics
- In groups, do the bench game with the same characters they used before but students must choose different tactics to get the person off of the bench
- Party Quirks with famous actors or people from history
- In a circle, the students think of their favorite character from a movie, book or TV show, and they go around the circle striking a pose as that person or doing a movement that person might do and class guesses who that character is – then they must say 2 sentences on why they like that character
- Pair off and have debate on why their character is better
- Chair poses: In groups of 5 – each person thinks of five poses that their character would do (using a chair) and group presents, each student doing their own character
- Students volunteer to go up and do a pose that one of the other students did that struck them
- Creating class character bio: Class picks a famous person and the class as a whole works on a bio for that person. They come up with: name, age, height, best/worst moments in their lives, mistakes that they wish they could take back, etc. All of this is written on a large sheet of paper in the front of the class.
- In pairs, each person shows an important moment in their character’s life (the character they chose as their favorite character in fiction) either through song, poetry, movement/dance, or through a monologue (students will have 5-10 minutes to create their piece before showing it to their partner)
- Students each pick an animal that they relate to – class is split up into two groups and each group goes up and students act out their animal while interacting with the other animals. Class guesses what animals they were
- Students write a short bio for their animal
- Class reads short bios in a circle
- In pairs, they must create a scene between their two animals (the animals can speak)
- Finish animal scene rehearsal
- Present scenes
- Exaggerated walks: walk in circle and exaggerate the walk of the person in front of you
- Space walk through different substance (e.g.: water, sand, Jell-O, noodles, etc)
- Students experiment with walking light vs. heavy, fast vs. slow, and direct vs. indirect; students identify which of the characteristics they associate with their own walk
- Song circle: Student steps into center of the circle and starts singing a song (rest of group joins in if they know the song); another student takes that person’s place when they think of a song
- Vocal resonators: teach students about the different resonators (chest, adenoidal, nasal, sinus and head)
- Students break up into groups and choose which dwarf out of the 7 dwarves they want to portray; with class’s eyes closed, each group goes up and says the names of the 7 dwarves using their different resonators – class tries to guess who said which one
- Radio show: Groups of four; students create a radio show (the kind from the 50s when the radio was used as we use the TV now) – each student plays a different character and they come up with a scenario to act out (the audience of their show will close their eyes, so they must communicate only through sound)
- Tongue twisters
- Continue work on radio show
- Present radio pieces
- Discussion on the experience of only listening without being able to see the action
- Homework: students pick their favorite cartoon character and bring in a picture of that character
- Students pair off and tell partner what they did last weekend while partner repeats their speech and their body language
- Class gets in a circle and turns to the outside of the circle. On the count of three, they turn around and strike a pose as their favorite cartoon character
- Go around circle, and each student says a line as their character and class tries to guess what character they are
- In pairs, do the overlapping speech activity again but this time as their cartoon character
- Leading with different parts of the body: students walk around room and body parts are called out and they must try to lead their walk with that part of the body
- Students pick a piece of clothing from the pile in the middle of the room. They put it on and see what it does to their bodies. They visualize their newly created character (which is formulated from that piece of clothing) in front of them and they try to match their body exactly.
- Students walk through the space as if they were in the woods – they interact with other students as their character nonverbally
- Journals are passed out – students write their findings on their new character and a short bio
- Put on same article of clothing – step into characters
- Play music – how do their characters move to different types of music? Eyes are closed so no one feels self-conscious
- Pair off – pretend that they are in a café and the only seats available are the seats next to one another. The characters have to talk to one another and they ask each other questions
- Step into character
- Situation: All of the characters are in a restaurant when a natural disaster strikes outside and they are all locked in – how do the characters react in a crisis? Who is drawn to whom?
- After a while, students will see which characters they are drawn to and they will form a group with those characters and create their own scene
- Human band: as their characters, students go up one by one and create a sound and a movement their character would do; by the end, everyone is onstage as a human band with their characters
- Chair poses as in previous days but with their newly created character
- Short class discussion on how body language gave away characters’ statuses/how the character feels towards the world
- Students grab their journals and write a monologue in the voice of their character during an important moment in that character’s life
- Emotions – students are given an emotion and they must portray it with their body
- Class assigned into groups of four. The members share their monologues with their group. Group then must figure out a scene between the four characters
- Get back into groups and keep working. Figure out the who, what and where. Start writing out dialogue. Figure out the piece’s beginning, middle, and end.
- Finish up scenes (dialogue and blocking)
- Perform scenes
- Discuss what class saw in each scene