Landsknecht Guild

July 20, 2009

Character Creation – Persona 101

Filed under: How To,Personas — Alena @ 10:15 pm

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.
• Geography
• Politics
• Religion
• 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

IV. Accent/Dialect
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

V. Skills/tasks/props
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.

Creating a Character – Gary Izzo’s worksheet

Filed under: How To,Personas — Alena @ 10:15 pm

He almost invented our modern version of interactive theatre. Directions follow the worksheet.

Character Creation Steps

As taken from Gary Izzo’s Acting Interactive Theatre:  A Handbook
1998  Heinemann, Portsmouth, NH

Character Elements List




Character Theme


Origin of Passion


Origin of Foible


Primary Activities (Activities key to passion fullfillment, and performed most often)










Primary Needs (Based on primary activities, and in order of importance to the character)




Occupational Activities That Revel the Subject (unedited listing of as many as you can think of)


















1. Define occupation and theme.  (most often this is already given to the actor, but they are welcome to refine it) Occupation is what the character does more than anything else, and may or may not have anything to do with their livelihood.  It is their strongest actional quality in support of the subject of the production.  The theme is the idea or underlying motif we see developed or elaborated by the character.  Themes are the facets of human nature revealed by what is suggested by the subject.  Each character exploits one theme.
2. Create occupational activities.  Compile a list of quintessential actions, duties, and behaviors commonly assumed to be a part of the occupation.  This (long) list is to be composed without any regard for the appropriateness of the activity to the actor’s precepts, or even their playability within the performance environment.  It is a palette of possible actions only, and will widen the actor’s scope of choices.
3. Refine the occupational activities.  Narrow the occupational activities list to usable choices based on the following three criteria:  (1) they reveal the character’s theme; (2) they require interaction with other for their accomplishment; (3) they can actually be performed in the performance environment.
4. Choose the character’s passion.  Make this important choice that is at the core of the character.  Define the single state of being that will bring the character to final happiness.  (e.g., to be approved by others, to be respected, to be in control, to be loved, etc.)  Define also the motivating origin of this passionate desire.  This gives the character a slant towards how it will reveal its theme.
5. Define the character’s foible.  Identify the comic flaw that trips that character up in his or her attempts to achieve his or her passion and creates the internal conflict.  Choose also the motivating origin of the foible.
6. Define the character’s virture.  The virtue (saves the character from*) the fault of the foible and places the character back on the road to passion fullfillment.
7. Identify primary needs.  The character’s primary needs are those two or three needs that most directly serve the attainment of the passion.  They should indicate the types of activities the character will engage in most often.
8. Identify primary activities.  Work through the refined occupational activities list and choose the eight to ten activities that best answer the primary needs, reveal the character’s particular slant on his or her theme, and provide the most expansive range of action.  The character has an urgent and intense need to perform these activities.  These are the activities the character will most often use in performance.

*I reworded Mr. Izzo’s original phrasing, which was “The virtue undoes the fault of the foible. . .” as in my interpretation of his text, he means to say that the virtue does save the character, but never undoes or erradicates the foible or what the foible has influenced the character to chose or do.

Creating a Character – Kid’s worksheet

Filed under: How To,Personas — Alena @ 10:14 pm

Historical Persona Worksheet

So you’ve been given a name or an occupation, you’ve done the research and made the report. How are you going to bring that person to life? Following is a list of questions, think if them as topics for conversation for when you are portraying your person.
You may need to make educated guesses on these questions. Make sure they have some basis in reality. Use your classmates to fill in the details, and use their personae to populate your own story. An example follows.

What is Your Name?

What is your occupation?

List some daily tasks (at least four):

Where do you live?

Who is your family?

What is your station?

What is your home like?

How do you get food?

What do you worry about? (list four)

What did you learn when growing up, and from whom?

Write a letter to someone (family or friend) including as least 6 facts from the topics above.

Historical Persona Example

What is Your Name?   Edward Nott, the forester

What is your occupation? I take care of the lord’s forest lands.

Where do you live? I live in England in a forest miles from any villages or castles.

Who is your family? I have a wife and two children who live with me, and a brother who is a guard at the castle.

What is your station? I am a peasant, but I am also sort of a servant.

What is your home like? I live in a small one-room hut, with a loft and a stable that is in the middle of the forest.

How do you get food? My wife has a garden, and the lord provides grains, and I hunt for meat. My wife prepares our meals.

List some daily tasks (at least four):
• Traveling through the forest to survey my land
• Making sure the paths are clear
• Cleaning my weapons that I use against strangers and animals
• Making a report to my lord master.

What do you worry about? (list 4 things)
• About bandits in the forest
• About my children’s future
• Whether the lord will bring more food.
• If my brother will get killed in action.

What did you learn when growing up, and from whom? I learned how to take care of the forest from my father, how to care for my house from my mother, and how to serve a lord from my older brother.

July 19, 2009

Now mit categories!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Magda @ 10:37 pm

Right now we’re just getting started, but as the forum grows, we’re going to want to find old threads.  I’ve started creating a series of categories, and if you don’t tag your posts I’ll do it for you.  That way, if we want to go back and read all the costuming threads, or find a recipe, we can just look at clothing or food.

When you create a post, please select one or more categories from the list.  And if you think of a new category that you’d like to see added, just pop Julie an e-mail and she’ll create it for you.

Landsknecht Library (Reading List)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Magda @ 10:30 pm

Military History in English

Landsknecht Soldier 1486 – 1560 – Osprey Warrior Series (ISBN 978-1-84176-243-2) $17.95

The Landsknechts – Osprey Men at Arms Series (ISBN 0-85045-258-9) $15.95

Pavia: The Climax of the Italian Wars - Osprey Campaign Series (ISBN  1-85532-504-7) $18.95

German Medieval Armies 1300 – 1500 – Osprey Men at Arms Series (ISBN 0-85045-614-2) $15.95

Armies of the German Peasants’ War 1524-26 - Osprey Men at Arms Series (ISBN 978-1-84176-507-5) $17.95 


General German History

The Burgermeister’s Daughter by Steven Ozment (ISBN 978-0-06-097721-4) $13.00

A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People by Steven Ozment (ISBN 0-06-093483-2) $14.95


General Medieval/Renaissance History

A World Lit Only By Fire:The Medieval Mind adn The Renaissance, Portrait of an Age by William Manchester

Making a Living in the Middle Ages: The People of Britain, 850 – 1520 by Christopher Dyer


Food and Cooking

Food in History by Reay Tannahill

History of Food by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat

The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy by Redon, Sabban, and Serventi.

The Medieval Cookbook by Maggie Black

Sallets, Hunbles, and Shrewsbery Cakes: A Collection of Elizabethan Recipes Adapted to the Modern Kitchen by Ruth Anne Beebe

Pleyn Delit: Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks by Hieatt, Hostington, and Butler

(This is just a very small sampling of what I have in my own [Julie's] personal libary.  Feel free to drop me an e-mail at MsStickler at aol if you have something you want to research.)

July 7, 2009

Also found my way…amazing really!

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:19 pm

Hi Everyone! My name is Raven and I have been involved in productions with Stephan for 6 years. Most of you already know me & my love for history. We own a building company that specializes in historical renovations, I donate some of my time to local Historical Societies, restoring centuries old cemeteries, and researching our areas history through digs. I love all aspects of history and look forward to learning about this new world.

As I am cast this year at CTRF, I will not be joining you in camp, however, I see this as a long term commitment that I can give some quality time and resources to. I would like to specialize in herbs and their uses (as I have studied them and have had my own herb shop) . If anyone has any informative sources I can use, please let me know!

I look forward to meeting everyone again ….:)

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