Dramatic Interpretation Character Analysis

The success of any Dramatic Interpretation can be measured by the actor's understanding of character.  Because that is the core of the event, characterization.  Knowing all personas of your piece as if they were your best friend will be the difference between doing well and just okay.  Further, understanding your characters will also enable you to master other aspects of this performance category.  For instance, a Dramatic Interpretation with sloppy pops, similar vocalizations, mirrored gestures, unclear physicality, all can be improved upon by getting to know your colorful array of personalities.  A few basics you should ask, or infer, about every character include:

  • Name and age. Incredibly basic.  Yet our name is our identity.  Ask, is there some sort of pun or symbolism with the name?  Is there a reason why the character is this age (if specified)?  How can these attributes help with characterization (older characters might not stand as tall)? 
  • Appearance. A character that is described, or hinted, to be either good or bad looking may reflect their confidence or insecurities as established by how they and others view their looks.  Or, if a character has a disability that should be taken into consideration with physical characterization. 
  • Personality. How would you describe this character?  How would they describe themselves?  Are they smug?  Intelligent?  Uptight?  Listing adjectives will help give you an idea of what verbs to perform later to become this character. 
  • Socio-economic status. What is the financial situation of this character?  Or what about their financial history?  Coming from nothing to having money will certainly have an effect on a person, and vice versa.  Where we are fiscally has an almost direct effect on our views of the world, how we act, and how we alter ourselves to be perceived in a way of our choosing. 
  • Education. There is a difference between an educated individual and one with limited resources to knowledge.  And our level of education effects how we interact with others and view ourselves. 
  • Place of residence. Where we come from and where we currently live influences who we are.  A person from the slums will act differently than one who lived isolated from reality in a mansion all their life (neither individual is better, just different of course!).  Also, think accents!  Different regions and countries have unique vernaculars. 
  • Specified likes and interests. Does the author list in the script things the character likes to do, show aptitude for, or finds intriguing?  These may serve as hints on how to add depth to the character.  For example, a character who is described as being a bookworm might be able to be played as a reserved sort of person (if the rest of the script supports that).
  • Non-specified likes and interests. What can you guess about this character's further pursuits of joy based on information given in the script?  Creating a character with numerous layers will only help with the characterization process.
  • How do they view other characters? People act differently around different people.  For example, if one character finds another intimidating then that one who is intimidated may either become meek and "hide" in the other's presence--or do the opposite to show they are brave too.  Ask how your character views others and think about how that may change their personality and social interactions. 
  • How do others view them? When you know someone dislikes you, it has a direct effect of how you act around that person.  Or when you think people like you, you may be more open than normal.  Is your character aware of how they are viewed or are they oblivious? 
  • Over-ruling desire/want. Characters are driven by an overwhelming desire for a want.  Find what that is for your character.  Knowing their main want will help you determine the tactics they use to get it.  This may also help explain irrational behavior. 

Dramatic Interpretation character analysis needs to be done with every character.  No personality is too small or too great. Will analysis change through time?  Certainly.  The closer you become to a character will change your interpretation.  Does that mean you should be lax in your work?  NO!  Dramatic Interpretation analysis will evolve, but evolution is the sign of a growing performance.  And using these basic attributes as a starting reference will help you begin that journey to creating fully developed characters.