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Actor versus Character


Students will demonstrate an understanding of relating to their character by performing a short piece both as themselves and their character.


Materials Needed

Clip 1: clip from a movie; Clip 2: different movie with same actor in Clip 1, yet portraying a very different character; Clip 3: clip of actor as himself (i.e. on a talk show or interview)


Lesson Directions

Show Clip 1. Then Clip 2. And finally Clip 3.


Step 1:

Compare and contrast the actor to the different characters he portrayed. Discuss the differences and similarities of both.  Could you see inspiration of the character in the actual person?  Were there any characteristics that showed up in all three clips?  How can actors USE THEMSELVES in a character they are performing?

Step 2: 

Have the students look at their own character and themselves and ask:

1-      How am I the same as my character?

2-      How am I different from my character?

Have them get out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of the paper vertically.  Have them label on side as “Me” and the other as their character’s name (i.e. Felix Ungerman).  Have them write down physical, mental, emotional, etc. characteristics for both themselves and their character in the proper columns.

Step 3:

Have them share their findings with a partner.  They can share three things that they’ve written down, and then share the biggest difference between themselves and their character along with 1-2 ways that their character is similar.

Step 3:

After identifying an everyday routine (i.e. making their bed, doing homework, etc.), have the students create a simple 30-60 second piece that portrays them doing the task as themselves. Then have the students adapt their scene so that it is their character that is performing the task.

(Students could also work with another student in a short improv scene. Working in partnerships would allow the students to see how they themselves compare to their peers, as well as how their characters compare to other characters.)


Step 4:

Give some time for practice and then perform the pieces.

Step 5:

After each performance piece, discuss as a class what was just seen on stage.  Compare and contrast the two people performing the task; how was characterization affected by the personal nature of the actor?