• All Purchases made this month instantly go into the draw to win a USD $ 100.00 credit to your HoP account.
 

Ade
SILVER Member since Mar 2001

Are we there yet?
Location: australia

Total posts: 1897
Posted:I'd like to start a thread on character development....



Looks like I just did

I've been talking to a wonderful hopper who is fabulously creative, and found she really inspired me in developing my characters for various perfomances, now my problem is - I suck at it.

I'm really curious to find out the steps you take in developing a character - is it a linear process, where you start with an idea, or is it fluid, organic and evolving? Do you start with an idea for a show and develop characters, do you start with a peice of music, do you start with a theme, or an idea, when do you focus on details, how do you pull it together, is it like writing a story and develping a seperate living character?

or does it just come to you? spontaneous, or do you have to work hard for the vision?

Any insights into the creative process would be greatly appreciated, adored and admired


Delete Topic

Puk
SILVER Member since Aug 2002

Puk

Sweet talented nutter
Location: Brisbane Oz

Total posts: 2615
Posted:I have multipul characters inside of me that all want to come out and play.

Actually they could come in many way's but usually you see them in some emotional way be it triggered by music, movies or dreams.


that shrewd and knavish sprite

Called Robin Good Fellow ; are you not he that is frighten of the maidens of the villagery - fairy

I am the merry wander of the night -puk

Delete

Ade
SILVER Member since Mar 2001

Are we there yet?
Location: australia

Total posts: 1897
Posted:thanks puk - did you consciously develop them? How much thought went into them, do you enter an alternative state of consiousness, do they exist independently inside your head?......

or did you just foget to take your medication


Delete

Charles
BRONZE Member since Jun 2001

Charles

Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland

Total posts: 3989
Posted:for me (with about a dozen characters at last count), the beginning is usually linear (heh, it would have to be wouldn't it) and tends to start with a costume and/or request from a client.

From that point onwards, it is definitely fluid, organic and evolving (wonderful words, Ade!).

An example is Xander the Xmas Elf I developed two weeks ago for a midwinter Xmas contract at the America's Cup Viaduct.

The main brief was to hand out presents to the children, but to make it as entertaining (and present conserving) as possible.

The first day, it was the coldest day in 25 years of NZ's history, and there were virtually no people around at all. So, instead of my original idea, of grouping the kids togther and playing games and dances and stuff, Xander spent as much time as possible making the parents do silly things to 'earn' their child a present.

Highland dancing (Prancing Parents is what i have named this) was the most popular by far, at which point, most foreigners (who don't often know what a mid-winter xmas is) assumed I was a leprechaun instead of an elf!

So out comes another aspect of Xander, complete and total indignation at being called a leprechaun! He stomps around, looking annoyed, drags the parent to the xmas tree, points at it, points at himself, draws sleighs in water beading the railings and generally has a small tanrum until the parent calls him an ELF.

Then, a huge smile on his face, Xander hugs the parent and seems ecstatic that theyve got it right. Usually onlookers jump in as well and either call Xander and elf to get a hug or call him a leprechaun to antagonise him.

All this sort of interaction can only be learned on-the-job. Theres no way you could ever plan for it and set it up at the start.


be aware also of limitations that costuming can introduce onto character, XANDER cant ride a unicycle easily because of his elf shoes that are big fluffly and have bells on (oh god, I cant believe Im admitting this).

Also, the leggings I usually were quite likely to get stratched and damaged on the conrete and tiled floor when playing games with the kids, so I had to go out and get some thick green trousers instead.

Summing up, there are lots of hints and tips for developing characters, but the best way is to do it, get out there on the day and have an open mind about where the character might end up.

And, of course, writing down as much as you can at the end of the gig


HoP Posting Guidelines
* Is it the Truth?
* Is it Fair to all concerned?
* Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
* Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?

Delete

Rozi
SILVER Member since Jan 2002

100 characters max...
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Total posts: 2996
Posted:the first idea usually seems to be a spark from the blue. If I thought about it long and hard enough, then I could probably find where it came from, but it would take a time.

That first idea gets pounded with questions, and beaten into shape. And sometimes is sparks offshoots of its own from that process.


It was a day for screaming at inanimate objects.

What this calls for is a special mix of psychology and extreme violence...

Delete

Ade
SILVER Member since Mar 2001

Are we there yet?
Location: australia

Total posts: 1897
Posted:thanks charles that's fabulous!

you say you have about 12 characters - do you have like a 'portfolio' that you show clients, and they can choose the characters, or do you just pluck one out that suits the occasion the best, and adapt others to suit where required?

and do all of your charaters have names, or, or they like puk's and seem to have an emotion/feeling as the way of naming/describing them. eg. where you have xander, puk might have mischeivious

and I really appreciate your comments on costume, as we've discussed here on hop before, costumes are really determined by what you are doing (in this forum, generally playing with fire), but you've anticipated something I was thinking - limiting the tools a character uses by describing the character in a way that they could only use certain tools - your xander example is perfect.

HoP rocks



Delete

Ade
SILVER Member since Mar 2001

Are we there yet?
Location: australia

Total posts: 1897
Posted:interesting Rozi - would you say that the charachter 'pops' into your head, and assumes a shape of it's own choosing, and by 'asking it questions' it kind of morphs into a more concrete shape?

and with all those offshoots, so you ever end up with an octopus



Delete

Rozi
SILVER Member since Jan 2002

100 characters max...
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Total posts: 2996
Posted:that's a really good description!!! (even the octopus bit!!! ).

I know that the ideas I say out loud are far more fully formed because I go through a lot of this process in my own head. But when they first come into my brain they are just teeny-tiny, so tiny in fact that if you are not careful you can lose them (behind the couch generally). So I need to ask questions and explore them in order for them to grow.


It was a day for screaming at inanimate objects.

What this calls for is a special mix of psychology and extreme violence...

Delete

Ade
SILVER Member since Mar 2001

Are we there yet?
Location: australia

Total posts: 1897
Posted:aha

eureka!!



lightbulb moment indeed.....

so - if I create a 'virtual' casting couch, and sit down with the available job description, I could interview some charachters to see if they were suitable.....

oh my gods, I think I'm getting it

see, I told you Hop rocks



Delete

Charles
BRONZE Member since Jun 2001

Charles

Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
Location: Auckland

Total posts: 3989
Posted:quote: you say you have about 12 characters - do you have like a 'portfolio' that you show clients, and they can choose the characters, or do you just pluck one out that suits the occasion the best, and adapt others to suit where required? I NEVER suggest a character or portfolio them seperately, although I sometimes include some of them in a list in case they have seen or heard of me in action in the past.

There's a huuuuge issue in NZ with performers being classed as hippies/artists who don't turn up on time, appear unshaven, wear ripped, faded or even dirty clothing!

I've been stung a few times by having a character appear similar to someone else who botched the job completely, or even hurt someone, or stole stuff while on the job.

I usually ply them with 20 questions about what THEY want, inform what times they might want me as i need to get the costumes form the drycleaners (lets them know subtely that ll my clothes are birght and clean and worth looking after).

I also ask them if they would like all the entertainers to follow a certain theme (allows them to tell me who the others are and what they are doing) or if they would like us as different from each other as possible.

At this stage, I have a pretty good idea about what they THINK they want, and then suggest a character-personality and costume. I don't use a name unless they ask, and often ask them what they want to name the character.

Sometimes, even if they don't get me because I'm booked for that date (or working), they are so impressed they call me first next time somthing else comes up.


HoP Posting Guidelines
* Is it the Truth?
* Is it Fair to all concerned?
* Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
* Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?

Delete

Ade
SILVER Member since Mar 2001

Are we there yet?
Location: australia

Total posts: 1897
Posted:Thanks Charles, much appreciated



Delete

Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:Oooooohhhh....one of my favorite things to teach and work with people on, it is so like giving birth. Anyway...
There is a difference between a character and an alter-ego.

Defining an alter-ego is really creating a costume and a personality for that section, but the alter-ego still has all of your knowledge, memories everything. Essentially, it is you, only enhanced. One of the key elements to developing an alter-ego is to take one particular facet of a personality and really exaggerate, magnify and let it explode. This can be provoked by many things...a costume, music, a theme.... for example, when I created my little Devil girl it started with being hired for a party themed "Sinful Red" at a place called "The Red Room". This lead me to think about the most appropriate costume, which of course had devil horns, extreme make-up, leather, etc. With each step of the costuming process it was evident that she was going to be sultry, sassy and take no
sh!t. So she became my alter-ego for that night.
I have countless alter-ego's, for day to day life (business meeting versus BBQ type stuff) to more extremes for performing.

A character is more than that. A character is someone completely aside from yourself. That person has more than just a name and mannerisms different from you but the memories, goals, wants and expectations are different. There are foibles, flaws, virtues, interestes, passions and opinions are totally different from yours. So is their personal histories, everything. It is a ground up development of creating a person. I have worksheets that I have developed for when I teach workshops and direct improv shows. We start with those, making sure to fill them out as completely as possible..but in pencil. The importance of this is that it helps to flesh out a person...it helps to make you, as the creator, really think in terms of how this person would relate to things, and answer questions, and present themselves. From here comes the movement training. Obviously someone who is confident responds physically different from someone who is not, and they work through emotions differently, they have different ways of leading their body..someone who leads their walk with their chest tends to give the appearance of confidence where someone who leads with their hip seems to be more sultry. These all effect how we respond to stimulus. So movement in character, working through speeds, emotions, etc is very important. This is something that is, again, exaggerated. A character should be recognizable physically from 40 feet away. There should be no doubt about how they feel about themselves or their surroundings from a distance. A good character need not ever speak to convey a whole story. Ticks and personal nuances convey vulnerabilities, which are important to have in order to allow people to relate to you and not fear you. This motion part is particularly important in what we do, because it is sooooo physical. From here speech patterns should be developed according to what you have decided for physicalities. A character who is shy but always speaks boldly is not convincing. A character who is shy but has bursts of creative confidence and genius can be very amusing, if the rest of the time she is quite. Remember annunciation, clarity and carriage is sooooo important behind good vocalization, but through physicalization attitudes are enhanced and so shyness can still be conveyed without mumbling.
After this comes reaction, how do you combine all of these to sincerely react to any outside stimulus? What about to questions? Get into character and have someone interview you. It is really an incredible experience.
From here costuming comes into play. What makes your character identifiable? What sets him/her aside from everyone else? How does clothing to enhance your character? How will your audience relate to this costume?
And costuming is everything from the props you use, to the accessories you choose, to make-up and hair. It is literally everything you wear, carry and even try to hide.
This, all together, makes a character. I have 6 well established characters...all of which, even years later, are remembered by people, and at some events are asked for still. I have won awards with my characters, made people laugh, made people cry. I have some tremendous stories. I don't tend to recognised outside of character at all, and I shouldn't be. The change should be that drastic. And when I am out of character, there are times when I am so embarrassed by the things my characters did, but truly, they were living their life and "lynnie" took a break for awhile. The seperation is very akin to controlled multiple personality syndrome and is very intense, and is the most incredible thing, the thing I love most about interactive performing. It is amazing to look at photo's and not even see myself, to know my body did things that my mind truly had no part of.

Anyway...I don't know if this makes sense at all or if it sounds more like my babbling insanity. In interactive improvisational theater (which I am most trained in and have been doing for over a decade) character creation is the absolute of it. Without proper characterization there is nothing, and the show fails. The more I get into other forms of performing, the more I realize it is most definately applicable to everything else.

If you want any more info or to look at the worksheets I have created (and this is anyone, not just ade) email me.
Take care all!

Peloonie!


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

Delete

Ade
SILVER Member since Mar 2001

Are we there yet?
Location: australia

Total posts: 1897
Posted:Thanks Pele - that's a fabulous description! I'm also realising the importance of proper characters...

I really am getting an insight into the creative process here - it's really helping!! I can't thank you all enough

ade


Delete