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Writing A Short Play

Characterization is Important!


Characterization is Important!


Students will demonstrate their understanding of the importance of characterization in their plays by reviewing character development, emotion, and objectives. 


Candy, clear bowl, strips of paper


When all of the students are in their seats, bring a desk in front of the class and set a bowl of candy on it. Go to the board and write “Objective: Get a piece of candy.” Wait and wait until someone asks about the candy/mentions it/takes a piece. The first person to do something like this gets a piece and then you should go to the board and write the tactic on the board. For example, if a student asks you for a piece, write “Asking” on the board. If a student just takes a piece, write “by force” on the board. If the student makes you feel bad for them so you give them a piece, write “pity” on the board. They can’t use the same tactic twice and keep this up until everyone has gotten a piece of candy.


All of these ways that people got candy, what are these called in relationship to the objective? TACTICS! Why are objectives and tactics important in scenes? These are things that everyone should be thinking about as they create their characters for their plays. Every single character needs an objective not matter how small the character is, even if it’s the delivery man that has one line. Is his objective to deliver the package? Or is his objective to deliver the package as fast as he can so that he can finish his route and get home to his wife and newborn baby boy? Obviously this entire backstory does not have to be evident in what he says, but the emotions that come with that objective should be evident. By creating a backstory with an objective and tactics, you will be able to create more meaningful dialogue. What else is important to include in your characters in your plays? Write the ideas on the board. All of these ideas are awesome but are all of your characters going to immediately start like this? Character development is key in all plays.


Hand out everyone two strips of paper. As you do this, remind everyone that we already briefly talked about emotions when we talked about stage directions. Think about those emotions that we used in the stage directions. Tell them that everyone needs to write one emotion on each piece of paper and put them all in the hat.


Pick two students who are brave and are willing to be the first to perform and have them come up to the front of the class. Ask the class for a suggestion of a location/relationship/genre for a scene. Then each student will draw out a strip one at a time and announce it to the class. The first emotion they pull out is the emotion they will start as in the scene and the second emotion they pull out is the emotion they must develop into and end the scene as. For example, if a student pulls out “depressed” and “embarrassed,” he must start the scene acting depressed but slowly transition into being embarrassed.


After the first couple, ask the students what they observed the performers do to make the transition. Why does this kind of development make for an interesting scene? All of their plays must involve character development and each character must have some sort of development. 


Have more duos choose two emotions and perform scenes with the emotional transition.


Have students take their play outlines from last class period and add characterization to them. Students should consider relationships, objectives, tactics, etc. as they begin to write dialogue in the outline.

Have student take their outlines home to write out in proper format with more detail for their rough draft.


Remind the students that their rough drafts are due next class period.