Characterization Using Context


Characterization Using Context


by Katie Jean Christensen & Shelby Randall



Students will demonstrate an understanding of utilizing context to create a character by performing a personalized version of a content-less scene as their character.



Film Clip, Content-less Scenes  Lesson 3.Contentless Scene, and Character Sheet from Previous Lesson.



Have the students watch a clip from The Princess Bride. [The scene where Wesley and Inigo are fighting at the tops of the cliffs of insanity.]



Transition– Ask the students who the characters were and why they acted the way that they did. [For example: who is the Spaniard? Why is he chasing the six fingered man?]  Discuss that the context (without using the word context) of the scene in a play is what drives the characters to make the decisions that they do. [Ask questions like: What clues do we have about the story from this moment? What do we know about individual characters from their actions?] State that there is a word that sums up all of these facts.



Instruction- Write CONTEXT on the board ask for a volunteer scribe. Ask for definitions of the word. Decide on one answer as a class and have the scribe write it under CONTEXT. [Webster’s Dictionary Definition: The situation in which something happens: the group of conditions that exist where and when something happens. (Relate this definition if used to characters choices)] Ask: What are key identifiers or clues for the context of a characters actions? [Answers: who what when where and why.] Did you notice these in the scene we just watched?



Discussion- Ask students to pull out their worksheets from the last class period (See Lesson 2 Supplements: Profiling Worksheet). Ask them to find the key identifiers listed for context from step 2 [the 5 W’s: Who what when where and Why], in their own characters. How can we use these questions and answers to identify things in our everyday lives?



Guided Practice- Asking everyone to keep their characters in mind. Create the discussion about what a Content-less scene really is, pass around the Content-less scene. Discuss the fact that there is no provided content, explain that in a normal script you would be able to receive clues from the script as to how to portray a character, but for these they will be providing their own. Ask them to imagine their character saying these lines. How would they say it? What would need to be different about the directions/wording/etc… to make the scene true to the character that they created? Give examples of adding CONTEXT to the scene. Pull a character from the class, and as a class change a few directions/lines as a template.



Practice- Pair the students up into groups of two and give them a short period of time to sort through their scenes. Each of the students using their own unique characters as the characters speaking in the scene. Ask them to rewrite the scene with new content and CONTEXT that applies to their characters.



Group Practice – Have the students come up in pairs to perform their scenes as their characters. As each group finishes discuss with the class what made that scene unique. How could be really see what the students did to change the scene and make it their own with individual CONTEXT.



Closure- Tie it all together by having a “what did we learn together today?” discussion. Ask questions like: Why is context important to you as an actor individually? Where else can identifying context be important for you in your life? [NOTE: If desired, have the students write a reflection entry in a journal about what they learned in class that day.]



Students are assessed by the use of their character in adding CONTEXT to their scene. Grading can be done using the performance and the physically re-written scene.