Landsknecht Guild

July 20, 2009

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

Name

Role

Occupation

Character Theme

Passion

Origin of Passion

Foible

Origin of Foible

Virtue

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

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.
Primary Needs (Based on primary activities, and in order of importance to the character)

1.

2.

3.

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

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.

17.
Directions

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.

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