6 Character Development Exercises to try

The Monologue

In the role of your character, write, rehearse and prepare a 2-3 minute monologue that accurately portrays your character at a particular point in time within the play your studying / performing.

Consider what the character is thinking and feeling at that moment. What are their fears, hopes, love and hates in life and how they relate to this moment in the play.

Hint: The character is talking to themselves and try to use the characters speech and movement patterns as you would if you were acting a scene from the play.

The Speech

In the role of your character, write, rehearse and prepare a speech in which your character has been asked to present to a group about an issue or experience that is personal to them.

The scenario could be speaking to a group of children about their career choices, speaking at a rally about their protest against nuclear weapons or a speech to a group of young mothers-to-be about your characters experiences of childbirth and child rearing.

Hint: Remember that the character is addressing an audience of other people and try to use the characters speech and movement patterns as you would if you were acting a scene from the play.

Recent, Short and Long Past

In pairs, act out a most recent meeting of two characters in the play you are studying. Add to that an improvisation of a meeting between the two characters in the short term past. Finally add to that an improvisation of a meeting between the two characters that is in the long term past.

The scenarios for these scenes are very much linked to the backstories of the two characters involved.

Hint: There is a certain amount of close text study that will need to take place to discover facts about the past relationships between the characters.

This is your life

Working in a group of three or more, one person takes on the role of the biographer, the person telling the audience the story of one of the characters in the play you are working on. The second person takes on the role of the character in question. Finally the others in the group then multi-roles and take on the people in the characters life (father, mother, first love, first boss etc.…).

Prepare an improvisation during which the first character presents to the audience a brief outline of the second (central) character biography in chronological order. Each time a significant person from the characters past in mentioned they come on stage, played by the other actors in the group, and a short scene follows where the central character meets the significant person.

This exercise really involves quite a lot of close text analysis and making reasonable and informed assumptions based on what you have learnt from the text. For example, every character has a mother but how do they feel about her and how did they act around her?

Hint: This exercise also works really well as a whole class improvisation (especially a small GCSE or A Level class) as the significant people don’t have to leave the stage. Instead those relationships can be explored further, especially with the addition in other significant people on stage.

What’s in store?

In pairs, act out the a meeting between two characters both in the near and far future. Shape the events of this scene based on the knowledge you have of both characters present and past. Make sure that the decisions you make are the most likeliest based upon the evidence you have from the play, and then from the backstory that has been created.

Hint: There is a certain amount of close text study that will need to take place to discover facts about the past relationships between the characters as well as analysis of the current status of the relationship in order to reliably predict what the future will be like.

Day-To-Day Daily

In the role of your character, prepare a sequence of action that depicts the moments when your character is alone in any typical day. Often when we are alone we reflect and react to events that are taking place. We have a drink, a moment of reflection or review of the truth.

Hint: Don’t be afraid to mime the actions you are doing, use facial expressions and body language to express your characters inner thoughts and, if it helps, externalise your characters personal inner thoughts so that they are said out loud.

 

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