Today we talked about ‘Cause and Effect’ (in gravity and in drama!) and we explored that idea in some fast stories that we made up at the beginning of our session…
Joshua the piggy LOVED cheesy potatoes but spent all his money buying them. So, his love of cheesy potatoes CAUSED him to be poor! This meant he needed to do something about that. His lack of cash might have CAUSED him to steal money, (or some cheesy potatoes!), but that would have had the EFFECT of getting him into trouble (which might also be an interesting story path). But as Joshua was an honest piggy, he decided to earn some money, which CAUSED him to get a job on a potato farm – because he LOVED potatoes. But the EFFECT of working on a potato farm was that he ate lots of the potatoes. This CAUSED his boss to notice that the potatoes were going missing and the EFFECT of this was that Joshua got the sack!
So, each part of the story follows on directly from what happened before. If I knock a cup off the table, it will fall and smash on the tiled floor. If I pick up one of the pieces without being careful I will cut me finger and blood will appear. One event follows on from the one before. So, I don’t have a cut finger and then knock my cup over!
Next, we started to explore creating brand new characters of our own using the character bags from the last session.
I pulled a character out of the bag first – the slip of paper had the word ‘prince’ on it, so I wrote that up on the board and we all asked questions about this character – was prince his name, for example, or was he an actual royal prince? I suggested then that another way to get to know a character – and something that actors do when they’re getting into a role – is called ‘hot-seating’.
‘Hot-seating’ is when an actor pretends to be a character and sits in a chair and everyone else asks that character questions. This is a way that writers and actors can work together to make up a character for the writer to write about. I went first to give the children an idea of what I meant, and also because I LOVE acting, whenever I get the chance. My prince was a royal person. He was also very posh and denied assassinating the king and queen just so he could become king!
The next character was called Tyke and we weren’t sure whether Tyke was a boy or a girl, so Mathew and Mia both tried out being this character. Mathew’s Tyke was a wild boy who lived in the park and loved sleeping on the grass. He didn’t have a home, but he didn’t seem to mind about that and thought everyone should get rid of their houses. Mia’s Tyke was originally named Tricycle by her bike mad mother. She love gaming, spoke Spanish and loved animals!
We added some personality traits to the next character, which was an evil, dishonest, scared mermaid. Charlene had a great evil stare as the evil mermaid and we found out she was scared of her father Neptune, because she wanted to take over his undersea kingdom. Although it was hard to get the truth out of her because she was so dishonest!
Everyone was very enthusiastic about the ‘hot-seating’ and asked lots of very good questions of each character. And all the actors really got into character.
So, now we have lots of tools for making up a character and seeing what story might emerge and whether we can create scenes from that story. Each child started a Story Map with a large piece of paper, a character and some personality traits.
Next week we’ll see who those characters are and what their stories might be…
Miss O’Connell added…
This session was very beneficial as the children learned how to use questioning to develop their characters. Michelle demonstrated how to do this very effectively through hot seating, she went into the role of a spoiled prince and the children asked him questions to explore who he was.
The children were each given a character with three characteristics and they were encouraged to ask and answer questions about their character. One child was presented with a mermaid from Ireland who was evil, scared, dishonest and enjoyed laughing. She asked very interesting and relevant questions ‘What is she scared of? How old is she? Why is she dishonest?, Why is she evil?, was she always evil?, What is her diet?, What does she laugh at?, Is she more human or animal?, Where does she live?, Is her Dad ruler of the ocean?’
Children often tend to create cardboard characters. This exercise was superb for developing their critical thinking skills and ability to create well rounded characters independently. This will certainly improve the quality of their creative writing. Exploring why characters are the way they are and how their circumstances shape them, will develop the children’s interpersonal skills. When they begin to comprehend that their characters like people are complex, it will enable them to empathise.