Building healthy strong characters


Over the last couple of weeks we have a couple of classes that have been focused on building strong characters with emotion. Characters within improv are absolutely vital to the survival of a scene. Characters build strong foundations to a scene and help to build the relationship.

We had Jaye Andres Vice-President of the AZ Enneagram Association in to teach our Character Development class this week. She talked about the different types of “personality filters” that are out there. Here are a list of them. Jaye is a fantastic source for Enneagram knowledge… we highly recommend checking out the AZ Enneagram Associations site.

The Ennnagram test reveals different personalities that are all around everyone in society, that is what makes it’s use in improv so valuable. Nothing is more funny then the truth… that is a saying all improvisers should live by. When we can create characters on stage that the audience can connect with, we draw them more into the scene… when we give those characters actual emotion it draws people even more into the scene, which makes the pay off even greater.

Here are some keys to finding a great character:

  • Look around you at the people you interact with everyday, what are thier personally quirks. All the great improvisers will tell you that their best characters were inspired by someone they knew.
  • Find a character “twitch”, which is a physicality that puts you in the characters persona.
  • Create a real history for your character, where they are from, who they grew up with, what they do for a job… whether they like fudge on their ice-cream or strawberries.
  • Give your character emotion! Make them real emotion characters. If you counted every time someone said “i am angry” on stage instead of actually being angry, you would not be able to count that high.
  • Purpose and motive. Once you have created an emotion character give them a purpose or a want… and a motive or reason for being angry.

I am sure I could go on a on about how you can build characters, suffice it to say that it is important that they are present on stage… they will give you the words to say as an improvisor, they will give you the emotion you need. NOT YOU, you bring nothing to the stage but a character, once you are both there, let the character take over.