Given Circumstances - Level 1
In this level, you will have the opportunity to discover how actors use the given circumstances of a scene or monologue to support their performance. The final challenge will be to identify the given circumstances for a piece of text, and then perform that text.
On your journey to tackle the Final Challenge and complete the Level, you will need to earn 1 Power Up and gain 3 Experience Points along the way.
In this level, you will:
- Power Up by discovering given circumstances
- Gain Experience by completing some character analysis
- Gain Experience by considering the setting of the piece
- Gain Experience by identifying character objectives and tactics
- Take on the Final Challenge by putting it all together and performing the piece
This Level Up Challenge is based on a unit designed and developed by a student Thespian.
POWER UP: Discover Given Circumstances
Given circumstances can be defined as what the script says about a character, the setting, and the events of the story. For this Level Up Challenge, you will need a piece of text from a show to work with. You can use any scene or monologue of your choosing, but you will need to have access to the whole script so that you can read it and identify information about the characters, setting and events.
You may want to consider selecting a scene from a Shakespeare play of your choice since the scripts are available online. Visit this site (source: OpenSourceShakespeare) to find a complete collection of Shakespeare’s works (scripts included). Alternatively, you could find a different public domain play/scene to use.
TO POWER UP: Identifying the given circumstances of a piece of text is a helpful process to help inform how you will act the text. Watch this video introduction (source: Apex Drama Tools) to learn more about the process of identifying and using given circumstances as an actor.
Then, download this "Nine Questions" sheet that you will be filling out during this Level Up Challenge. The questions on this form are adapted from Uta Hagen’s “Nine Questions” and will help you identify the given circumstances of your piece of text.
Additionally, make sure you have read the script that your piece of text is from so that you can answer the questions throughout this challenge.
GAIN EXPERIENCE: Analyze Your Character
Actors begin preparing their role by reading the entire script and then analyzing the character to deeply understand what makes them tick. To analyze your character, start by studying the role to see what the script says about the character and the events of the story. Fill in as many of the questions below as you can with information found in the script. Then, you can use your imagination and make informed choices to fill in other information about this character that would be logical for this person in this time and place.
TO GAIN EXPERIENCE: Make some notes about your character for each of these categories:
- Name, nickname, alias
- Age, date and place of birth
- Relatives, key relationships, enemies
- Likes, dislikes, favorites, hobbies
- Skills, education, career
- Opinions, morality, ethics, beliefs, religion
- Sociological influences
- Appearance/physical traits: height, weight, measurements, hair color, hair length, hairstyle, eye color, jewelry, tattoos/marks, etc.
- Words, language, style of speech
GAIN EXPERIENCE: Consider the Setting
Now that you've completed some character analysis and answered some questions about the "Who" of the piece, it's time to think about the setting - or the "Where" and "When."
Consider the following questions: What time is it? Where is your character? What surrounds your character? Refer to the "Nine Questions" sheet for additional information to consider when thinking about setting.
TO GAIN EXPERIENCE: Fill out the information for Questions 2-4 on the "Nine Questions" sheet. Additionally, do some research and find some images that help you visualize the setting of your piece. As they said in the introduction video - it's not enough to say that the scene takes place in the bedroom. What does it look like? Find some images that capture your vision.
GAIN EXPERIENCE: Identify Objectives and Tactics
Now, it's time to identify the "Why," "What" and "How" of the scene. These questions have to do with the character's objective(s), or what they need in the scene, as well as their tactics, or how they are going to go about trying to get what they need.
TO GAIN EXPERIENCE: Read "Fight The Good Fight" by Joe Deer on dramatics.org. Then, define your character's objective(s). Next, divide and label the script by which actions your character is using to try to get their objective. If your character's tactics seem to change, indicate that by creating a different section and choosing a new action word. Each section should be labeled with a tactic of "To (verb)" such as "to admire" or "to accuse".
FINAL CHALLENGE: Apply it Your Performance
During this journey, you powered up by discovering given circumstances and learning more about them. You also gained experience by analyzing your character, considering their setting, and identifying their objective and various tactics. Now, using the power up and experience points you gained along the way, you are ready take on the final challenge: putting it all together and practicing your piece.
TO COMPLETE THE FINAL CHALLENGE: Complete the "Nine Questions" sheet with any other information that you need. Then, perform your monologue or scene and keep all of this information on given circumstances in mind. How does this change how you feel about the text? If you want to, you can perform the text for a friend, family member, or classmate/learning buddy, and ask them for feedback on your performance. Was the who, where, when, why, what, and how of the scene clear to them?
PREPARE FOR THE NEXT CHALLENGE
Are you preparing a monologue for a virtual audition? Take on the challenge of recording yourself performing by clicking on the button below and checking out FILMING AN AUDITION: LEVEL 1.
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