The following is the handout from a workshop that Stephen, Alena, Tom & Amanda ran at Reenactorfest 2009. It is some basic categories of information to keep in mind when thinking about creating a character or persona.
Persona 101 – Workshop Handout
I. Choosing a character
A. Four main types of characters
• Historical Celebrity, ie. George Washington
• Historical Personage, ie. General Knox
• Documented Person, ie. name is known not much else
• Occupational Archetype, ie. farmer, or tailor
B. Physical characteristics – can you match your persona in look, race etc.
C. Limitations – do you have physical limitations? Financial, etc?
D. Personality – do you want a big speaking role, get along with people, etc
II. Mental/Emotional makeup
A. 3 Easy Steps to Start a Character
1. Passion/Motivation- The over all driving force of a character/persona.
The constant struggle that will bring the character/persona to final
and lasting happiness.
2. Foible/Fault/Quirk- The part that will make your character/persona
interesting and human. Identify the flaw/quirk that trips the
character/persona up in their pursuit of his/her passion/motivation
and creates internal conflict.
3. Virtue/Saving Grace- Saves the character/persona from the flaw/quirk
and puts them back on the road to passion/motivation fullfillment.
B. Personal beliefs and opinions
• Even modern journalists can not be completely objective.
• It is a good idea to have period opinions on many topics.
C. World Awareness – To be an entire person there are certain things you would know.
• Diet and the harvest cycle (especially pre-refrigeration)
D. Social Standing or Hierarchy
III. Physicality – Making the persona look right
A. Costuming has a huge impact on persona
B. Think about character stance – how would you sit, stand, walk?
C. Think about Gestures – remove modern gestures
A. Changing your speech –
• Accent – The way we pronounce our words
• Dialect – The words we choose to use
• Speed and timbre – Modern Americans speak very quickly.
B. De-modernizing speech – discussion
C. Walking the line between accurate and incomprehensible
D. Working with foreign languages
A. Using props can help you get into character
B. Distinct props can define a persona
C. It is important to be able to perform/discuss skills that you would know.