Character Development: the Character Sketch

In the drama class, we are revving up to begin blocking our school play. Before we do that, I want the students to do some character and script analysis.

They’ve had plenty of practice with character analysis already. I had them create unique characters on their own, fill out a character sketch, then write and perform a monologue for the character. I got some wonderful work from them. I later had them do character analysis for A Streetcar Named Desire.

This will be another chance to practice their analytical skills, as well as create more fully-fleshed performances.

Most of my drama students have characters to play in the school production. A handful of students are not in the cast but are in the crew. I want them involved in the character analysis too. I’m going to try to have the students work in small groups. Our play has five main groups of characters: school faculty, male jocks, female jocks, nerds, and accreditation committee. I will set up a group for each character type which includes the actors playing them as well as one or two crew members.

Here’s the Character Sketch/Character Development worksheet.

It makes use of the character development exercises laid out by Talia Pura in her book Stages: Creative Ideas for Teaching Drama. Below is a rundown of the information and questions on the worksheet:


Background Information
Name of Character:
Family Makeup (parents, siblings, children, etc.):
Physical Description:
Hopes, Dreams and Desires:

If this character were an animal, what kind of animal would he/she be? Why?
What is his/her dominant body part and why?
Which Laban Effort Action is he/she? (See Character Types section below.) Give an example from his/her life that
demonstrates it.
Describe him/her as a color. Why is this color most fitting?
Which of Hippocrates’ humors does he/she most resemble and why?
Is he/she of high or low status? Is he/she comfortable with his/her status?

Social Interactions
What does he/she say about him/herself?
What do other people say about him/her?
How does he/she behave around other people?


Laban Effort Actions

Press = Slow Direct Heavy
Glide = Slow Direct Light
Wring = Slow Indirect Heavy
Float = Slow Indirect Light
Punch = Quick Direct Heavy
Dab = Quick Direct Light
Slash = Quick Indirect Heavy
Flick = Quick Indirect Light

Color Characterization

YELLOW – Bright, sunny, cheerful, extroverted, caring, speaks before thinking.
ORANGE – Extroverted, popular, irresponsible, forgetful, disorganized, doesn’t follow
through with plans, insensitive, lives for the moment.
RED – Extroverted, intense, plays emotions to the limit, extreme behavior.
PINK – Very spiritual, kind, in their own world, spaced out, introverted or extroverted.
PURPLE – Very intelligent, witty, snobby, bossy, may be hurtful and cruel, extroverted.
MAUVE – Combination of purple and pink, intelligent and spiritual, witty but kind,
GREEN – Earthy, natural, not afraid of change, brave, helpful, extrovert.
BLUE – Very organized, punctual, leader, serious, sensitive, afraid of change, hides
emotions, introverted.
GRAY – Will take on other people’s personalities, like a spy who wants to blend in.
BROWN – More extreme than gray, will actually imitate others.
BLACK – Evil or mysterious, powerful.
WHITE – Very innocent, pure, usually only young children are pure white.
A character may be a combination of colors, or have a dominant color and another that is

Hippocrates’ Humors of the Blood

Sanguine – Talkative, expressive, impulsive, emotional, likes to be the centre of attention,
charming, enthusiastic, forgetful.
Choleric – Domineering, impatient, strong-willed, born leader, dynamic, organized,
confident, goal-oriented.
Melancholic – Analytical, artistic, thoughtful, perfectionist, moody, hard to please, suspicious,
prone to depression.
Phlegmatic – Easy-going, quiet, dry wit, sympathetic, unmotivated, selfish, shy, fearful,
worried, avoids responsibility.
A character might be a combination of humors.

Source: Stages: Creative Ideas for Teaching Drama by Talia Pura

By Dawn Pedersen

Science advocate, web designer, educator, artist, and mommy.

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