Types of Characters (Stock Characters)

Learning Objective:

The students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of stock characters by participating in content-less scenes.


Materials Needed:

Pictures of different types of people, content-less scene, different combinations of stock characters.



As students enter the room, have pictures of different types of people on the whiteboard. (make sure the pictures show a range of ages, ethnicities, and body shapes—can be from plays, television, anything) Once the class is settled down have them come up and look at these pictures. As they look at them take notice of the different types of people represented. Give the students 2-3 minutes to look at the pictures.


Step One: Transition

Ask the class what different types of people did you see represented in these pictures? Ask for a volunteer to come up to the white board and write down what the class throws out. Once the students have thrown out several different examples, ask the class who has heard the term stock character? Define what a stock character is as a class. (A fictional character based on a common literary or social stereotype, influenced by culture)


Step Two: Instruction

Have each person get with a partner from the class and have them pick one stock character. Once that is picked have them write down distinguishing indicators that make their stock character unique. Prepare a short improvised scene showcasing the stock character.


Step Three: Practice

Give the students 5-7 minutes to prepare the improvised scene. Check with the class after five minutes to see where they stand. As they are working encourage them to add as much detail as they can to create a convincing character.


Step Four: Performance

Gather the students together. Ask for a volunteer to go first. Tell the whole class as well as the performers that we as the audience will guess what stock character you are playing. Spend 10-15 minutes letting people perform their scenes.


Step Five: Discussion

What choices or moments stuck out to you? Where do you see stock characters today? How do stock characters apply to you as theater practitioners today? How do stock characters affect casting in theater? Do people see you as a stock character?


Step Six: Instruction

Hand out a content-less scene to each person in the class. Have them get with a different partner then who they were previously working with. We are going to test our knowledge of the differences between different stock characters. I am going to yell out a two different stock characters and you and your partner decide which one is which and then act through the scene in your own place in the room. Once you have performed it in those characters I will yell out a different combination. (hero and damsel in distress, villain and side kick, hero and villain, and etc) Ask for combinations from the class. We will do this several times.


Step Seven: Practice

Have the students practice taking on different types of characters. Spend a total of 10-15 minutes max on this activity.


Step Eight: Performance

Ask for a volunteer to come up in front of the class and perform their content-less scene for the class. If enough time have as many people as they would like perform. Tell the students that these do not need to be polished or perfect it is just an exercise.


Step Nine: Discussion

Gather all the students together and ask them what things did notice while doing this content-less scene? As an actor what was it like to switch from character to character quickly? What did you use to help distinguish a difference between each time you performed it? What was difficult? Looking at Beauty and the Beast what stock characters do you see within that show?



Students will show knowledge of stock characters by performing a content-less scene.



Copies of different people’s pictures and copies of content-less scenes.