Developing Your Live Performance Skills: Character

Get to Know Your Character

When performing puppets with a recording, you’re locked in to a certain character. The voice and other character traits can’t really be changed. But when performing live, you need to build your character. The more you know your character, the easier time you’ll have performing that character.

One of the keys is to spend plenty of time with the puppet itself. Every puppet is different in some way. Even puppets built from the same pattern will feel different depending on the age and wear of the materials. Spend time playing with the puppet you are using. Discover what you can make it do, and what you can’t make it do.

Once you know more about the puppet itself, spend some time figuring who the puppet is. A good technique is to write a character sketch. This is a process of putting down information about the character. Things like:

– Full name
– Age
– Where do they live
– Where were they born
– Do they have a family
– What do they do for a living
– What do they like
– What don’t they like

That’s just a start. Include any and all information that you think will help you know your puppet character better. These pieces of information may never come out in the course of a performance. But it will help the performer to know how their character would or wouldn’t behave in certain situations. If some of your performance is being improvised, this will be a great help when trying to come up with the next line.

Now that we know more about our characters, in our next post we’ll talk a bit about the character’s voice.

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