Invite students to stand up and move around the classroom just as themselves. At this point, they should be silent as they walk. Focus on moving through space, if see any huge open gaps, fill them. Focus on yourself, just existing in the space. Have them continue to explore the space, now playing with tempo (1=mega slow, 4=normal walking pace, 10=super fast). After a bit, call out different body parts for them to “lead” their walk from (head, knees, stomach, chest, hips, feet). If desired, have students now add a specific character to walk around the space as. With each character, ask them to greet others, as they continue to move around the space. What sort of voice/word choice does the character have/use. Go through a couple different character types. (3 year old, grandma/grandpa, rock star, a business executive, superhero, the most popular kid in school, etc…)
Have students sit down where they are. Ask, what that experience was like? Things you liked that you saw happening? What was fun or entertaining?
Other potential questions:
How did tempo and body lead influence the sort of energy or character that you took on? How did you decide how to move and speak as each character? What did you have to know/decide about the character to make a characterization?
Highlight the idea that the more detailed/specific characterizations were (physically and vocally) the more believable and interesting the characters are to watch.
Ask students: How can you determine what traits to take on for your character? Use students’ answers to transition into the next activity.
Ask students: How many of you have Facebook?
What sorts of things can learn about a person based on their Facebook profile?
What sorts of things do people usually post in the info about themselves?
On the board draw out a basic FB profile “about me” template (or can project one if you have a good one).
As a class, pick a character (can be from a movie, book, etc…) Ask students to imagine if this character had a Facebook profile. What information do you imagine might be on their Facebook “about me” page? If a student has an idea, invite them to come up and write some on the board or verbally share ideas.
Read through the profile as a class and discuss what insights the information provides about the character.
Give each student a FB profile worksheet. Have students imagine that they are their character. What might your character put in a Facebook “about me” profile? Have them consult their scripts for character details and fill out the info on their papers.
When finished, have students get with their scene partner and exchange papers (or read them to the other).
Have a couple people share their responses with the class.
What sort of things did you learn about your character through this exercise? What about other people’s characters? Ask students to think about some of the best performances they’ve seen—what made the characters so engaging to watch? Highlight the idea that the more an actor can pull character details from the script, the better time they’ll have taking on and interpreting the character. Chances are, the audience will enjoy the performance more too because the character will feel more realistic and well rounded.
Scene Partner Interview:
Have students get back with their partners. Explain that one of the best ways to start taking on and developing character traits—aside from analyzing the script—is to practice speaking and moving like the character you’ll be taking on. Project a list of “interview” questions on the screen in the class. Explain that partners will take turns interviewing each other using questions on the screen (they can add ones of their own if they’d like). Here’s the thing—they both need to conduct the interviews in character (with both the interviewer and interviewee speaking, responding, sitting, standing, moving like your character would in the interview situation). Set a timer for 6 minutes—this time is for partner A to be interviewed. When time is up, set timer again for 6 minutes—this time is for partner B to be interviewed.
Do a quick demo of what this might look like for students.
When time is up, ask students what the experience was like? What was fun? Challenging? What did you discover about your characters through this exercise? How about your character’s relationship? How can you use this information to help you develop stronger characters as you rehearse?
Have students spend the rest of the class time going through their scenes, working on memorization, implementing character traits, and especially looking at what the character’s relationship is—how that relationship can help you come up with character traits/relationship dynamics in the scene.
At the end of class, have students turn in their character FB papers. They will be given points for these as well as for their participation in class that day.