Emotion and Character

Unit Objective:

Students will be able to portray emotion and character by participating in space walks and animal improvisations.


Materials Needed:

Empty space



Have the classroom cleared as the students enter so that there is plenty of empty space.


Activity 1 (25-30 min) – Emotional Physicalization Activity

– Can someone sum up what we talked about last time? Why are we focusing on this? How does it apply to “traditional theatre?” I am trying to give you a toolbox for how you can incorporate your movement into your acting in a more specific and clear way. Today we again are going to be focusing on movement and specifically emotions and movement as well as animal movement.
– This time we are going to split the class up and take turns participating. I want to make it clear that this is NOT a performance, we are not performing for the other group but all learning together. You are not to pose “for” the other half of the class but for yourself. As an audience member you also need to be learning so you will take notes that can help you participate when it is your turn. My first group will give the second group advice to help them better learn and explore.
– Again, this is a silent activity in that there should be no talking and really no interacting with others. Same consequences apply for not being focused. Why do you think I am wanting you to be silent during these activities? Really make sure they discover that we are focusing on movement and how we communicate non-verbally and that requires silence so we can really focus in. We need to push the tables to clear space again for our activity today. This time we are going to fold the tables down and stack them on top of each other as well as the chairs.
– We are going to start by once again walking throughout the space. Keeping our soft focus and just moving throughout the space. Notice your breathing, how you are walking, long steps, short steps? How does your emotion effect how you are moving? How do you feel today? Tired, excited, nervous. Let that show in how you are walking. Really take note of what you are feeling internally and notice how that effects your movement.
– Now I am going to call out an emotion. Then I am going to say “1-2-3 Freeze” at which point you are going to freeze in a position that shows that emotion. So let’s try it. Sad “1-2-3 Freeze.” Okay I am going to do that emotion again but I want you to try a different/less typical way of showing that emotion, sad. “1-2-3 Freeze.”
o Happy
o Angry
o Entertained
o Bored
o Curious
o Confused
– Make sure and ask them to exaggerate, try something new. After group 1 has finished have them give advice to group 2 AND then switch and do the whole activity again.



Activity 2 (25-30 min) Animalization Physical Activity

– The whole class is going to participate together in this activity. You will have less space but if you stay focused on what you are doing you will be fine. You really need to show great focus and maturity in this activity. Why do you think it is important that we aren’t laughing, talking with our friends, etc? We then lose focus and start to feel that we can’t explore because we are too conscious of those around us, watching us, instead of exploring we begin to perform. We are going to discover how animal’s physical movements can really help us to more as actors. I want you to think of one of your favorite characters, they can be from a book, a play, a video game, a movie, etc. Raise your hand once you have chosen your character.
– Now I want you to determine an animal that you feel this character could “TRANSITION” to. So if I were picking Severus Snape from Harry Potter I would say he is snake like. Does that make sense? Now once again when you have picked an animal raise your hand. Don’t overthink it, just choose and animal.
– I am going to say “goodnight animals” and you will all lay down to sleep, then I will say “Good morning animals” and you will all wake up as if you were that animal. If I were a cat I would begin stretching, start pawing at the floor, licking my paw, etc. I will then continue to narrate your “day” and you will respond as that animal would physically.
– As you narrate make sure and encourage them to really try new things, discover.
– “Animals, time to eat”
– “Animals, time to play”
– “Animals, time to clean your room.”
– “Animals, time to take a bath.”
– “Animals, time to find food.”
– “Animals, time for bed.”
– Now I am going to say, “Students wake up” and you are going to wake up as humans but using your animal to inspire your character. Maybe you still slither out of bed like you did with the snake but in a more human manner, etc.
– When complete turn on the lights and tell the students they need to write one thing on the board that they learned from this activity, about themselves? About others? About acting? About storytelling? About movement? Etc. Then go through and discuss what was written.




We are going to continue what we have learned by doing pantomime. Like we have done in the past few days we are going to hone in so specifically on movement that we are going to eliminate verbal communication completely and focus entirely on the physical. Please don’t lose track of these tools we have discovered in how we lead, how our environment changes us, how we can show emotion physically, and how we can use animals to inspire characterization.