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Foundations Of Acting/ Scenework

Lesson 3.Character


Students will demonstrate their ability to develop a character by composing a character’s circumstances journal.


Students can be assessed on their completion of the practice character journal and later on the quality of work in their characters’ circumstances journals.


Collection of character props (more than enough for one per student), jar of Popsicle sticks with students’ names written on them, extra chalk/markers for writing on the board, copies of Lesson 3.Character Journal Assignment and Rubric, sheets of unlined paper, crayons, colored pencils

  • Step One—Hook

At the beginning of class, have a variety of household items and props (kitchen utensils, articles of clothing, office items, small trinkets, etc.) displayed on a table at the front of the room. Encourage the students to walk around the table for a few minutes to get a good look at every item and then ask them to return to their seats. Draw the Popsicle sticks one by one. When students’ names are called, they should pick an item from the table and take it back with them to their seat.

Transition: Once all of the students have items, direct them to list characteristics about it on a sheet of paper. For example, a leather glove might be described as soft, worn, black, stylish, wrinkled, warm, etc. Move around the room as they do this, offering support and motivation to students who are struggling to generate ideas. Inform the students that the more descriptive words they can come up with about their prop, the better.

  • Step Two—Group Practice

Direct the students to get into small groups (of 2 or 3 people) and share their character props and lists with their group members. The group members should offer their own ideas about characteristics they see in each other’s props. Tell the students to expand their list of characteristics as much as possible with the assistance of their classmates.

  • Step Three—Discussion

o What were some of your favorite characteristics you heard listed about others’ items or that you came up with about your item?

o What are some of the visual, physical traits and circumstances we can use to describe a character?

As they think of these qualities, students should write them on the board as a graffiti wall. Add items from this list to the board as necessary:

o Height and weight

o Coloring

o Age

o Facial features

o Clothes they wear

o Food they eat

o Occupation

o Personal Hygiene

o House they live in

o Hobbies

o Education

o Voice

o Gestures

o Posture

  •  Step Four—Independent Practice

Put the drawing supplies and paper out for the students’ use and instruct them to create a picture of their character from Almost, Maine using details from the script and ideas from the graffiti wall. Move around the room and offer advice about how individuals can incorporate characteristics from the class discussion to their illustration.

  • Step Five— Directions

As students are finishing up the final details of their artwork, distribute the character journal assignment handout to every student. Tell the students that the journal is due on the final performance day. Each question should be answered in a paragraph with supporting examples from the script.

For now, a shorter version of this same assignment is due the following class period. They should take 10-15 minutes to answer each of the questions about themselves (NOT their character) in 1-3 sentences before next class period. Encourage them to remember the discussion about character traits and circumstances.