The alternative entrance to Narnia...
I'm currently working on The Algae Opera, a micro opera that requires me to build a character in a future world. The tricky bit is, we're building the future state as we go. So it's not just the case of picking up the libretto and score and scouring for clues. It's design thinking in iterative cycles.
As we've been co-creating the opera, I've found Uta Hagen's six steps to building a character absolutely invaluable as a framework to check in with.
I always use this framework to build a character, from opera to TV - it harks back to my acting training at Birmingham School of Speech and Drama. So my advice is to grab a well-frothed latte, or a perfectly brewed cup of tea and think about your opera character within this framework. It guarantees a 3D character if you let the design go all the way to your feet:
1. WHO AM I
What is my present state of being?
How do I perceive myself?
What am I wearing?
2. WHAT ARE THE CIRCUMSTANCES
What time is it?
The year, the season, the day, at what time does my selected life begin?
Where am I?
In what landscape, city, neighbourhood, building, and room do I find myself?
What surrounds me?
The immediate landscape, the weather, the condition of the place and the nature of the objects in it?
What are the immediate circumstances?
What has just happened, is happening, what do I expect or plan to happen next and later on?
3. WHAT ARE MY RELATIONSHIPS
How do I stand in relationship to the circumstances, the place, the objects, and the other people related to my circumstances?
4. WHAT DO I WANT
What is my main objective?
What is my immediate need or objective?
5. WHAT IS MY OBSTACLE
What is in the way of what I want?
How do I overcome it?
6. WHAT DO I DO TO GET WHAT I WANT
How can I achieve my objective?
What's my behaviour?
What are my actions?
Reprinted from Uta Hagen's Challenge for the Actor, p134
For more information about the six steps and Uta Hagen's methodology, click here