Characterisation is so important in creating strong and robust pieces of theatre. Getting to know a character greatly improves the chances of success of a piece of theatre. For understanding who your character is, is also understanding what you are trying to communicate to the audience. But it is more than this. It is a process that enables you, as the actor, to engage with the character that you are becoming so that you can perform them with purpose and clarity. Whatever the genre, style or practitioner you are using, getting to know your character is key.
Here is a collection of six blog posts that explore the process of characterisation and how it can help create strong characters ready for performance.
Conscience Alley is a Drama tool that has been around for quite a long time. I suspect that it comes from Brain Way or Dorothy Heathcote and it is something that I have always associated with ‘process drama’. Drama as a pedagogy rather than Drama as a subject. It wouldn’t look out of place in a History lesson for example. Its structure is loose, which … Continue reading Conscience Alley
This is a really good physical warm up that gives the students the opportunity to explore their characters in a exaggerated and visceral way. It is really useful if you play some physical games or warm ups first to get the students engaged. Then, walking around the space making sure that each students accepts their own personal space and respects the personal space of others. … Continue reading Body Parts
This is a very simple warm up that can be used to explore a characters relationship with the rest of their family and those close to them. Depending on group sizes and the text/devised piece involved, this could be done as a whole class or in individual groups. Begin the activities by having a discussion about the family and important people in the characters life … Continue reading Family Portraits
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. … Continue reading 6 Character Development Exercises to try
Did some work with my Year 10 Drama GCSE class a few weeks ago on what questions must you answer about your character at the moment they enter the play for the first time. No matter what character you are playing or how big a role you have, to play it fully and to play it well, you need to know the answers to these … Continue reading 25 Questions to ask your character the moment they enter the stage for the first time.
Improve and tweak this go to activity to achieve better and more focused learning in your lesson. Continue reading How to improve Hotseating to achieve better learning in your lesson.
If you have any more characterisation exercises that you’d like to add to the list, please add them to the comments below.