13th March 2017 – Characterisation

In today’s session with Erica, we continued to work on our ‘improvised characters’. Before the session, we were asked to write a character type for a specific person in the class in advance. I was asked to come up with a character that Harry would be able to play, here is what I came up with: ‘young boy, around the age of 8, loves cookies and eating things he shouldn’t, is very clumsy and often breaks things’ – I wanted to keep the description short as I also wanted to challenge Harry by leaving some of the decisions about his character to his own interpretation, hence why I gave a basic outline and not a full biography.

Emma created my character, and like myself, only gave an outline of the character. The following is my character type. ‘Young girl called Frankie, 16 years of age, compulsive liar, high pitched voice and annoying’ I found this quite difficult to work with at first purely because there was so much scope for interpretation and how you would portray a character like this.

Erica proposed that the setting for the improv was at a 30th birthday party at Hannah’s house. She has a small party but resents becoming older, however feels obliged to have a party anyway. To begin with, it was quite hard to fit the characters into the scene as there was no logistical reason as to why any of our characters would be at the party in the first place, this made the scene feel unnatural and awkward at times as there were parts where nobody would be saying anything. Erica then decided to give us all a reason for being there. Harry and I were best friends and we came to the party with Josh who was Harry’s brother to get away from Josh and Harry’s nagging parents, they were also Hannah’s neighbours some others included: James, the local postman who had arrived early to help set up the party and a friend of Hannah’s. Jack, also a neighbour who had just seen his 19 year old best mate kiss his little sister. Once we all had a reason to be at the party, the scene began to flow much more at ease.

In order to portray the compulsive liar side, I stood up when everyone was singing ‘Happy Birthday to you’ to Hannah and announced that it was my birthday too. Also when Jack asked me how old my sister was, I looked at his straight faces and said “102” – both of which seemed to get a great response! I also portrayed the character to be a ‘moody teenager’ but not so over the top that the character became stereotypical. Next, we restarted the scene but we were all the same age at Beth’s 18th birthday party. I found this much easier to fit into as I felt I had a natural purpose as to why I was there. I found my character (shy and nerdy girl) quite easy to portray as I felt I could actually relate to the character and play her as naturalistically as possible, which is what was required for the task.

Overall, I think this lesson was very useful in the sense that it taught me that in order to make something feel real or relatable, you need to create a back story and always have a reason behind what you’re doing, that way it will be much easier to fit into a scene more quickly. I learnt about the importance of improvisation and how it can be used to create the foundations of a scene. I believe this technique would be good to use when it comes to our final major project in order to create characters with reasoning and meaning behind them, which inevitably makes the whole piece seem more naturalistic and believable as a whole.

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