How To Develop A Character In Theatre

Creating a compelling character is an art that requires careful crafting, learning and attention to detail. In this guide, we will dive into how to develop a character in theatre and the rewarding process of bringing characters to life on stage and on the screen.

Study the script

Start by thoroughly reading and analysing the script. Pay attention to the character’s lines, interactions, and relationships with other characters. Understand their objectives, conflicts, and journey throughout the play.

Within the script, you can identify the character’s arc—the journey of transformation or growth they undergo throughout the play. By studying the script, you can trace the character’s emotional and psychological development, allowing you to effectively portray the changes they experience and ensure consistency in your performance. 

Studying the script can also facilitate collaboration with the director and your fellow actors and actresses. By having a deep understanding of the script, you can actively contribute to discussions, rehearsals, and creative decisions. This collaborative process enriches the character development process, as different perspectives and interpretations are shared! 

Know your character 

Developing a character begins with understanding their essence. Analyse the character’s traits, background, and motivations. Ask yourself the following: Who is this character? What drives them? How do they relate to other characters in the play? 

Dive into research to understand the time period, setting, and social context of the play. Read books, browse the internet, and watch YouTube or TV to help you. This may provide valuable insights into the character’s background, beliefs, and societal influences that may have shaped their behaviour.

Create a backstory

Every character has a backstory that shapes their personality. Imagine their life before the events of the play and explore formative experiences that may have influenced them. Consider their relationships, upbringing, and key life events. This exploration will help you understand their desires, fears, and internal conflicts, allowing you to portray them with depth and authenticity.

Don’t be afraid to use your imagination! Your character’s backstory can be as wild as you want it to be. Just remember to remain consistent and not lose sight of what you have decided when later developing your character. If your character has close relationships with other characters in the play, why not try and cleverly interweave their backstories together? If well executed, this can be especially effective. 

Physicality and gestures 

A character’s physicality can speak volumes on stage. Experiment with their posture, movement, and gestures to express their personality and emotions. How does your character move? Do they have any distinctive physical traits? Does your character have a confident stride or a nervous fidget? Incorporate these physical choices to enhance their presence and create a believable portrayal.

Theatre is not just about words. Your character’s physicality is especially important if he or she has few lines to deliver. Through body language, gestures, and movement, an actor can convey a character’s emotions, intentions, and thoughts. The way a character stands, walks, and uses their body can reveal aspects of their personality and help the audience understand them without relying solely on dialogue.

Develop a vocal style

The voice is a powerful tool in character development. Experiment with pitch, tone, and pace to reflect your character’s personality, age, and social background. Develop a unique voice for your character, considering their regional dialect or accent, and even any speech impediments. Vocal variety adds depth and helps the audience connect with the character on a deeper level.

Explore the character’s voice and speech patterns. Consider their accent, tone, and rhythm of speech. Does your character have any specific vocal qualities or quirks? Develop a vocal style that reflects their personality and their background.

Emotional journey

One of the key elements in character development is portraying a believable emotional journey. Explore your character’s emotional arc, from their initial state to their transformation throughout the play. Understand the highs and lows, the conflicts, and the pivotal moments that shape them and their journey. This exploration will allow you to authentically convey the character’s emotions and connect with the audience.

Pay close attention to your character’s relationships with other characters. Explore their dynamics and the effect they have on each other. Consider the character’s intentions and objectives in their interactions, and how they are influenced by others. 

The importance of rehearsals 

It is vital to remember that the development of a character is almost always a collaborative process that involves the wider production team. Engage in open communication with the director, your fellow actors, and designers to exchange ideas and refine your character’s portrayal. 

Take advantage of rehearsals to experiment, try new approaches, and receive feedback. Be open to trying new approaches and refining your portrayal based on the insights gained during the rehearsal process. Really try to embrace the opportunity to learn and grow alongside your character!

Honing your craft

Acting is a lifelong learning process. Take classes, attend workshops, and study the works of renowned actors to expand your knowledge and skills. Embrace opportunities to observe performances, both on stage and on screen, and learn from the techniques and choices of other actors. Read about different acting techniques and learn all about the actors who use them.

Keep an open mind, be willing to take risks, and explore new techniques. Remember, the more you invest in your craft, the richer your characters will become! Finally, authenticity is key. Stay true to the character you have developed, while also allowing room for growth and spontaneity during each performance. Trust your instincts and let your character evolve organically on stage.

By immersing yourself in the production, collaborating with the rest of your team, and continually refining your craft, you can create unforgettable characters that resonate with audiences long after the final curtain call. 

If you want to attend online drama classes to help you learn how to develop a character, sign up to iampro.