The following exercise helps students identify their personal strengths and make connections with characters in a play that they are currently studying in drama class. It could also be used for students who are performing in a school production, to help them gain a deeper understanding of the character they are portraying onstage.
Being able to identify one’s own strengths is a part of cultivating self-awareness, and is important for students. At the same time, it’s an excellent opportunity to allow students to identify similar strengths in characters (even characters that are dissimilar to themselves). Making those connections helps students gain a deeper understanding of others as well as themselves, while examining their personal biases.
This is an individual exercise, and can be completed in person or via distance learning. Find a link for a free printable worksheet at the end of this article.
1. To start, students will list a minimum of three strengths they think they possess. This may be challenging for some, who might think they aren’t good at anything. Remind them that everyone has strengths! Some examples might include:
- I always get my homework done and handed in on time.
- I’m a great babysitter.
- I always choose the perfect present for my friends’ birthdays.
- My cash till at my part-time job is always correctly balanced at the end of my shift.
- I speak loudly and clearly when performing in drama class.
- I make excellent chocolate chip cookies.
- I’m a really good listener.
- I’m good at fixing things.
- I’m great at braiding my sister’s hair.
- I always give my best effort at football practice.
2. Select two characters from the play your class is currently studying. You may assign the whole class the same two characters, or let students choose which characters to analyze. (If you are having student actors complete this exercise for a show you are producing, have them do the analysis for the character(s) they are playing.)
3. Take a piece of paper and draw two columns, or use the provided worksheet. Write one character’s name at the top of each column. Underneath each character’s name, create three rows. Label them as follows: Their Strengths, My Similar Strengths, Connections.
4. Look through the script for scenes that the first character is in, or instances where other characters are talking about the selected character. Identify two to three strengths the character possesses. Write those strengths down under their name, giving proof from the script (such as the act and scene number, page number, or direct quote from the text). Repeat this for the second character.
5. Once students have identified each character’s strengths, they will identify at least one strength that they themselves also possess. Some characters will be easier for students to identify with than others. But it doesn’t have to be one of the strengths that the student listed in the first section, and it doesn’t have to be exactly the same strength.
Challenge students to find even a thread of connection between the character and themselves. For example, a villainous character might be great at plotting schemes, while the student is a whiz at planning parties and special events. A shy, quiet character might always have their nose stuck in a romance novel, but they do share a love of reading with a student who enjoys comic books.
6. Finally, students will respond to the exit slip question: Was it easier to identify the strengths of Character #1, Character #2, or yourself? Why?Click here for a free printable worksheet.
Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. She blogs at www.kerryhishon.com.Want to find out more about our newest plays, resources and giveaways?
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