Mission Statement: We are volunteers serving all of Grand County, dedicated to the accurate portrayal of Grand County and Colorado history. We present educational and entertaining programs by invitation for community and private events.

Develop a New Character

Use the form and notes below to help develop a new character.

Choose a character. It must be a real person, no longer living. Make sure there is a lot of written information about the person. 

Ways to keep track of information:
• Note cards
• Computer files
• Manila or colored folders
• Photocopies from books and other sources
• Sticky notes placed in books and other sources

 

Vital information to find:

Date of birth

 

Place of birth

 

Places lived

 

Names of friends and family

 

Major events and experiences in his/her life

 

Basic feelings and beliefs

 

Date of death

 

 

Doing the research: Search for information from a variety of sources.

Autobiography

 

Journals

 

Letters

 

Diaries

 

Biographies

 

Internet

 

Film/video/photographs (memory.loc.gov or cdpheritage.org)

 

Newspapers from the time (cdpheritage.org/newspapers)

 


Place the person in his/her world:

Who were the leaders of the time?

 

What major events happened during the character’s life?

 

What were people’s day-to-day lives like?

 

How were transportation and communication handled?

 

Were there major scientific discoveries during the period?

 

What were the major ideas of the period?

 

How did people react to the character?

 

 

Telling the stories:

Recreate the character’s experiences through stories.

 

Choose stories to reflect the character.

 

Emphasize events important to the character.

 

Create suspense.

 

Use surprise or the unexpected.

 

Use lots of sensory details.

 

Recreate discussions between the character and other figures from the time.

 

 

Framing the monologue:

Start with an attention getting event or thought, not at the beginning of the character’s life.

 

Tell the audience things that you or the character would like them to know.

 

Think of questions you want the audience to ask. 

 

Set up ideas and issues that may raise those questions.

 

Choose the point of time in the life of the character when the monologue is taking place.

 

Choose stories that are important and relate to the reason your character is famous.

 

Speak only of those things your character would know about.

 

Learn to adapt the monologue to different audiences.

 

Have a strong ending.

 

 

Stage presence:
• Be comfortable with the monologue.
• Speak slowly.
• Enunciate clearly.
• Speak loudly.
• Avoid using words such as uh, you know, like, ummm.

 

Body language:
• Look at the audience.
• Shift your attention from place to place within the audience.
• A prop or two can be handy to create a stronger stage presence.
• Don’t walk around or shuffle your feet unless it is done to express an emotion or action.
• Use facial expressions and different tones of voice to express emotion.
• Use hands to help create emotion or to show action, but don’t allow your hands to wander; place them at your sides or behind your back, NOT IN YOUR POCKETS.

 

Becoming the character:
• Learn to think and feel the way the character did.
• Know what the character cared about and thought about.
• Find out how the character felt about each of the stories you are using in the monologue.

 

Answering questions in character:
• Never make up the answer if you don’t know; just say “I don’t know” if you must.
• Be careful not to take too long to answer; you don’t want to take up too much time.
• Don’t answer questions with “yes” or “no” - give the audience information about the character’s feelings on that topic.
• Consider your audience when brushing up on information for questions.
• When answering questions as a scholar, answer the question as fully as possible.
• Work around questions you don’t know by talking about things that are related or by telling the audience that the information is private.

 

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
• Practice telling the stories.
• Practice different versions and lengths of your monologues.
• Audio and videotaping yourself can give you more information on how you perform.
• Imagine yourself as an audience member to help picture your performance.
• Ask for specific feedback when performing for friends and family, so they know what to look for.
• Avoid memorizing; memorizing makes it harder to remember where you are if you make a mistake.

 

Dressing as your character:
• Find photographs and paintings of the characters, or books about how people dressed during that time period.
• Image Resources: www.memory.loc.gov or www.cdpheritage.org or www.heritagewest.coalliance.org
• Look for clothing in parents’ and grandparents’ attics and closets.
• Adapt Halloween costumes.
• Ask costume shops and community theaters about rentals, but this could be expensive over multiple performances.
• Check thrift stores or have costumes sewn.
• Avoid clothing that is heavy and hot for summer performances and performances under lights.

 

If you are invited to perform:
• Get basic information about the event and location, such as the setup or size and age of audience.
• Be prepared for anything! Expect small or large changes to occur, and then you’ll be ready for them.
• Let other community organizations know that you are able to perform the character.
• Ask the emcee to introduce the character first and to help during the question and answer period. If there is no emcee provided, ask a parent, teacher, or workshop leader, or be prepared to take care of it yourself.