Characterisation is an actor’s main job. The actor needs to understand the character to bring them to life in a way that will connect to the audience. Character excesses are the best way to learn characterisation. Drama exercise should never be overlooked when training to be an actor as they are a powerful tool in character building. In this article, we will take a look at acting character development exercises you should try.
If you get an impulse in a scene, no matter how wrong it seems, follow the impulse. It might be something and if it aint … take two!Jack Nicholson
What better way to learn characterisation than through games? Character development or learning how to develop a character for a role is a crucial skill that should be taught to every acting student at a young age. Take a look at some games. Some of these games may require an acting partner.
5x Character Development Questions
When you ask you get answers and through the answers, you get to understand the character for your role. In this game, you should assign yourself a monologue. Actors often than not overlook the vitality of a monologue in learning. I mean, who said you could not learn specific skills on your own? Read your monologue aloud. In your performance, you should answer these questions;
- Who am I? – this is the most fundamental question in character development.
- Where are you from?
- What do you want?
- What will you do if you get what you want?
- What do you do for a living?
- Where do you reside?
Truth or dare
Do you remember playing this game as a child? You learnt a lot about your playmates through this game. Some people would even prefer choosing to dare and wait to be asked to do something embarrassing than to reveal something about themselves. Truth and dare can yield excellent results for actors when not comes to character building. When playing truth or dare with a fellow actor; ensure you ask the right questions or give the right dares that will dig into their emotions. Ask a round of questions without any bias. Let the questions be both probing and innocuous. You never know how your favourite store or candy may come in handy. You can download helpful questionnaires and character profile questions beforehand to get an idea of the kind of questions you need to be asking.
Try wearing a completely different hairstyle from what you are used to. Ensure that you change your hair to something completely new. Once you have changed hairstyle, walk around the room exploring. You should be learning how a change of hairstyles gives your personality a whole new look. The hair-do exercise allows for the external character to influence their internal nature.
Do the unexpected
In this exercise, the goal is to get yourself out of your comfort zone. Many human beings are not very receptive to change. It’s just normal for you to feel the same. So, the goal of this exercise is to push the actor to do something unexpected. For a character to undergo a significant change in their life, something substantial must have to happen to catalyse the transformation. In this exercise look for a catalyst of change. For instance, if your character is very stern and uncaring, what will make them care or be moved by an act? What would have to be at stake for them to change their character? Once you have identified your character’s limits, you can then determine what is required even on set to change their nature.
Sip a glass exercise
Drinking from a glass is an exercise meant to bring out the different characters in you. The exercise should have you sip from a glass three times, but each time like someone from a different social class. Your acting partner should sip the same three times but like someone from a different country. The end goal of the game is not to see who is right or wrong but to grow their character.
Break the ice
This is a typical exercise that is very easy to undermine. How many have you met someone and they asked you about yourself? Better still the most common question in an interview is “tell me about yourself.” it’s a classic question that holds more power than anyone would imagine. We mostly answer this question depending on who we are talking to or the context of the question. For instance, who are you as a jobseeker? Who are you as a human being and who are you are as an actor?
Answer this question in different contexts. For instance;
- On a first date
- In a job interview
- Meeting friends for the first time
- Flirting in a party
- On your Instagram bio
Play dress up
This exercise requires makeup and prop box or costumes. We are talking about makeup such as fake teeth, glitters, hats, vanes and beard. You need to be as creative as possible with the makeup and prop set. You are required to pick three items from the makeup and the costumes. Once you have dressed up, you should go non-stage and explain to your acting partner(s) about their character. You should tell where they are coming from and where they are going. This should build actors creativity.
Portrait photograph book
Bring a photo book full of character pictures and pick a character. The task you should carry out is to create a whole story of the character you have chosen based on how they look. Each story should be at least a minute long with as much detail as possible. The background story should incorporate the following;
- Does the character have any siblings?
- Where is your character from?
- What secret is your character hiding?
- What’s your characters dream?
The exercise builds on the creativity and imagination of the characters. Their background story is limitless depending on your imagination.
Acting Character Development Exercises
Character development games and exercises are fundamental for teaching character building with or without scene study. They come in handy for building imagination and teaching collaboration.
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