Week 9, 10 and 11: Character Monologue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In our next unit we're going to create a complete character and perform a two minute speech derived from improvisation and writing exercises. You should be prepared to bring in costume and props for your speech. You may read your speech, but you must block it and rehearse it in character. First, let's look at some character speeches...first, from Whoopie Goldberg's Broadway Show!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. How does Whoopie use her expressive skills to show character? 

  2. What kind of costume is she using?

  3. What did you learn from the story? What is Whoopie trying to say about life through her character?

 

Here's another series of characters. This is Caroline O'Connor from the play "Bombshells". How does she use her expressive skills?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(The following lessons were written by Susan Pattison from the Steart Resources Centre.)

 

Activity One: Imagining Character
  • In advance of the class, go through magazines and choose interesting faces of people. You can also use the Art Image kits (especially the one on portraiture) to find some images of people.

  • Mount the photos you have found on construction paper and place them on the walls all over the classroom.

  • When the students arrive for class, have them sit comfortably and brainstorm some characteristics of characters. Using a cartoon character such as Homer Simpson can sometimes help the students focus onthe characteristics of a character. Generate a list which contains such words as: gestures, characteristic phrases and tone of voice; movement. The students may generate other terms which can be grouped into these general categories.

  • Have the students volunteer to imitate characters that they know from the media. Have the rest of the students guess the character and help the performing student improve on their depiction of the character.

  • Draw the students' attention to the photographs on the walls of the classroom. Emphasize that without telling anyone which image they have chosen they will improvise one of the characters using the generated list of termshat they will need to develop characteristics from the list.

  • After about five minutes (or so) have the students return to the circle. Ask for volunteers for performance and then have the other students guess which person the student is representing. You or the students may question the choices that the students have made in representing their characters. Emphasize that any suggestions must be made in a positive way.

  • In their drama journals, have the students write down the generated list of words and comment on the success/failure of the activity. Have them comment on the challenges they had when trying to assume an unknown role based on a photograph. 

 

Activity Two: Character collage

Materials:
• Newspapers, magazines, construction paper, scissors, glue

Procedure:

  • Recap what was accomplished last day. Review the list of character words. Ask the students how they perceived the exercise.

  • Explain to the students that today they will be looking through magazines to find their own character. On the chalkboard, write the following list of instructions:

  • Your character cannot be an imitation of a movie star, television character or other famous person.

  • The photograph you choose doesn't have to look like you.

  • The photograph you choose should give you some idea of the type of person who may be represented.

  • You will use the construction paper to mount the photograph of the person along with photos of some of the person's favourite things, expressions, places, etc. Make sure you have given yourself a name.

  •  At the end of the class, you will speak as your character and explain why the symbols, THINGS you have chosen are important to you.

  • You will be working with this character for more than one class, so plan carefully!

  • Give the students about 20 minutes to find the information that they need.

  • After the collages are completed, have the students form a circle and present the information about their character. Encourage the observing students to ask questions of the character.

 

ASSESSMENT
  • In their drama journals, have the students comment on their character. They could make a brief character sketch similar to those done in English class.

 

  • Check for the completeness of each character collage. Comment anecdotally on the quality of the work, the willingness to sustain character, and the commitment of the student to the exercise. 

 

Activity Four: Character history

A character history is a tool used by actors to examine a part. The use of a history helps fill in the holes of a character's life and often leads to further exploration of the character.

Materials:

  • Character history sheets

  • Character collages

  • Drama journal

Procedure:
  • Have the students review what they have written about their character in their drama journals.

  • Explain to the students that they will be working in role during this exercise.

  • Explain the rules of the Dating Game

  • One student will be the person who is searching for a date. That person will ask questions to determine which of the characters is most appropriate for a date for him or her.

  • Three other students will act as contestants on the dating show. Each contestant will try to secure a date with the person who is looking for a date. Every answer they give to the questions from the contestant must come from some aspect of the character they have designed.

  • The observers in the classroom will take notes on the contestants' ability to stay in role during the game. At the end of each round of the game, students will share their comments about what they have observed.

  • It is important to keep this game moving. Try to allow no more than three questions for each person. Go through the whole class until everyone has had a chance to participate.

After the Game:
  • After the game, have the students discuss the commitment to character using the notes that they have taken. What more did they learn about the characters their classmates have devised? Where were there gaps in the character information?

  • Give the students the notes on character history. Discuss character history in regard to their personal history. Hand out the character history sheets and have each student complete one for the character he/she has devised.

ASSESSMENT
  • Have the students complete the character history sheet and put it in their drama journals. Check for the completion of the sheets. 

 

Download Character Sheet Here!

 

 

 

 

 

Activity Five: Relationships

In drama, as in real life, people have various relationships. These relationships may be close, such as family and close friends, or more distant such as teachers, co-workers, etc. Every type of relationship follows certain rules. What you can or cannot do in a relationship depends on the closeness and trust within the relationship.

In relationships, actors pay attention to movement, voice, and diction. These three aspects of character vary according to whom the character is addressing.

Materials:

Two telephones (or reasonable facsimiles) Drama journals
Character collages and history sheets

Procedure:

  • Ask the students what kind of phone calls they received last night. Write down the results on

    the chalk board.

  • Ask the students to carefully examine the list and see if they could add more types of calls. You should get a list which may contain:
    parents
    friends

    pizza guy telemarketer library

  • Ask the students to brainstorm some more types of calls. Some ideas are: principal of the school
    homeroom teachers
    police

    parent's boss

  • Ask for two volunteers. Put one volunteer at each phone. Have one person phone the other and have a telephone conversation. You may have to model this. The person who telephones may be anyone (perhaps one from the list) but the person who answers the phone must be in their character.

  • Have the observing students look for commitment to role.

  • When the exercise is completed, give the students the notes on relationships. Ask the students to comment on the various ways they handled the relationships on the telephone. Summarize their results under the headings voice, diction and movement (if possible).

 

• Put the students into pairs. Have them, while in their characters, improvise a dialogue between the two characters that would show the relationship between them. They may use the telephones, or they may choose to be in a situation.

ASSESSMENT

Have the students put the relationship notes into their drama journals, using either the telephone conversation they had or the improvised dialogue, as students discuss the aspects of relationship that they explored with their partner.

Format for Journal Entry Relationships:

  • Type of situation used in improvisation: (telephone, improv situation, etc.)

  • Brief summary of the conversation:

Who did you speak to?

What is your relationship with that person? Think of three adjectives to describe your relationship.

What type of emotional reaction do you have to that person?
How did your tone of voice, diction and vocabulary change when you spoke to that

person?
What did you learn about yourself through the conversation you had with that person?

• Read the students' drama journals looking for completion of the assignment and ability to answer the questions posed.

Notes:

It may be very helpful to review the concept of blocking in improvisation before you start the class. Blocking in improv happens when one person refuses to cooperate within the scene. Often times it can be seen as a refusal or as an inability to continue on in the context of the improv. You could also discuss blocking when it happens in the exercise. 

 

Activity Six: Characters in conflict

The two principal types of conflict are:

Internal

• Internal conflict focuses on the basic conflicts within a person. It may be a fight between good and evil, emotion and decision.

External

• External conflict focuses on the struggle between the character and some other force such as another person, a natural force, or a political force.

Characters can be in a state of constant conflict. Conflict is necessary if a character is to appear well- rounded and real to the viewer. Resolution of conflict is one of the most important goals of a character.

Materials:

  • Drama journals and character information.

  • Video clip of The Simpsons (or another sit-com) which shows a character in conflict. Several clips instead of one can be used to focus on the different types of conflict.

  • Situations written on index cards. Procedure:

  • View the video clip with the students. Ask them what is happening in this circumstance. Discuss other examples of conflict.

  • Give the students the notes on conflict.

  • Have the students get into their characters. Explain that they will be playing an improv game which is based on conflict.
    Put the students into pairs. Try to choose students whose characters would naturally be in conflict with each other. Ask the students to take five minutes with their partners to explore the possibilities for conflict between the two characters.

  • Give the students the situation cards. For example: 

  1. two parents disagreeing about a child

  2. a teacher in conflict with a student or parent

  3. Arguing over who is first in line for something

  4. disagreeing over an incident in the past

  5. trying to return or exchange an item

  6. a political disagreement

During the exercise, the student must stay in his/her chosen character. Keep these improvs brief.

 

ASSESSMENT
 

Complete checklist for characters in conflict for each student.

 

Have the students comment on conflict in their drama journals. Ask them to explore potential areas of conflict within their characters. Have them make a list of the top ten sources of conflict for their character and within their character. 

 

Activity Six: Bringing in the Character's Past

Every person has a collection of objects which tells about them in some way. Some people save every concert ticket, photograph, greeting card, etc. that they have ever received. These ordinary objects can quite often tell us much about a character.

Materials:

  • Drama journals

  • Character collages

  • Pencil cases and binders

    Procedure:

  • Empty out your desk drawer, purse or pocket into a box and show the contents to the students. Ask them to analyze the person who is represented by the materials in the box. Have them make a list of the characteristics that person might display.

  • In pairs, have them examine each other's binders and pencil cases. In their drama journals, have them make a list of the characteristics that the person may have based on the evidence found in the binder or pencil case.

  • In the same pairs, have them think of famous TV or movie characters. Have them use their imaginations to list objects that they feel the character may have kept and that may give insight into the character. Have them write this in their drama journals.

  • Individually, have the students examine their character collages. If their character had a “ memory box”, what would be contained in it? What significance would each object in the box have to the character? Have them put their thoughts into their journals.

  • For the next class, the students will bring some of the objects that their character would have. They need to bring at least three objects. They will talk about these objects in their characters for next class.

 

ASSESSMENT

Assess journal entries for completeness of response.

Format for Journal Entry: Character’s Past

List at least five objects that you (as your character) would have in your memory box. What significance would each of these objects have? How do these objects represent a moment in your

character's life? 

 

Activity Seven: Writing and presenting a Character Monologue
 

A monologue is a Mini-play. It tells a story -- either of an event that happened or an emotional development - told by one character. The character tells a story about him/herself similar to the way a short story is structured. The story has a point. It is like letting the audience into the character's head to listen to the character's innermost thoughts. Monologues are addressed to the audience and are meant to be heard and seen by the audience. It is important for a monologue to have a Curtain Line. It's the Climax or Curtain Line of the monologue that leaves us wanting to know about the character or the character's situation. 

 

How much does a character have to say for it to be a monologue? A monologue can vary in length from 2 to 3 minutes to a whole play.

 

Activity:
  • Give the students the introduction to monologues to copy into their drama journals. Explain that they will be writing and performing a character monologue as the last activity in this class. Each monologue should be between 3 and 5 minutes in length.

  • Distribute the monologue rubric and explain how they will be evaluated.

  • Discuss with the students the physical space where they will do their monologues. Emphasize

    to the students that the whole space must be used.

  • Encourage the students to use props and costumes as part of their monologue presentations but emphasize that the ideas and thoughts expressed in the monologue are more important than any physical trappings.

  • Give students some sample monologues to examine as a format for their writing.  Have the students read and act the monologues if time allows. If possible, let the students view monologues done on TV or in movies. Some examples are the monologues from Hamlet, some parts of the TV show Scrubs, stand-up comedians.

  • As an alternative, have an actor from the community come in and present a monologue to the students. The actor will be able to discuss his/her choices and may give the students insight into how to present a monologue. Community theatre members can be a good resource. For more information on community theatres in your area, visit http://www.theatresaskatchewan.com/.

Tell the students that they will have two class periods to prepare and rehearse their monologues. Emphasize that it is very helpful to have a peer critique their performance before their final presentation.

  • Please make sure that you have some places for the students to rehearse. Be sure to warn your staff that monologue rehearsals will be taking place around the school.

 

 

ASSESSMENT

 

Monologue rubric attached.

 

Modify as necessary for your class.

 

EXTENSION

Some of the students may be willing to perform their monologues for an audience or have the monologues videotaped for future classroom use. Ask the students in advance if they would be willing to do either of these projects. 

 

Download Monologue Rubric Here!