Polishing Dramatic Interpretation Character Relationships

When doing Dramatic Interpretation you are one of many.  You are yourself in the introduction, a narrator/lead, and a plethora of supporting cast.  While developing an individual character's mannerisms and characteristics is vital, people sometimes forget that how a character interacts with others is also critical to characterization.  Dramatic Interpretation might be described as a solo event, but with an array of characters it sometimes feels like a fully cast play.  Thus, you should approach script analysis as one in a play would; not only look for specifics of one character but look at how interactions influence others. 

To help make relationship analysis easier you need to be organized.  A method that can be used for creating a graphic organizer for character relationships is to make a chart.  Take a sheet of paper and divide the paper into columns (one column for one character).  Count how many columns you have and draw that many rows.  Label your columns going left to right (example: Larry, Jeff, George, Gary) and your rows going top to bottom (Larry, Jeff, George, Gary).  You should have the upper-left and lower-right corner box empty.  This grid chart works like the multiplication table, Battleship, or those Allele charts in Biology.  When filling out the chart take a name from a row and ask how does X feel about Y?  Going back to our example, ask how does Larry feel about Larry, how does Jeff feel about Larry, how does George feel about Larry, and how does Gary feel about Larry?  Then go down to the next row and repeat the process.  Once the chart is complete you will know how every character feels about not only themselves but everyone else.

Questions to think about with character relations include:

  • How does X feel about Y?
  • What does X want from Y?
  • Does X hide anything from Y?

Once you understand how your characters feel towards others, you can better interpret their dialogue.  As you pop from character to character in your Dramatic Interpretation ask yourself how these relationships influence how they speak to one another.  What are these characters really saying?  How does their relationship affect the subtext?  Also, this involvement of interpretation will not only develop individual characters more but allow for tension and suspense to grow between characters (which is challenging as all characters stem from you alone). 

This level of analysis might seem overkill, but to know these characters entirely you need to look into every detail of your piece; Dramatic Interpretation requires it.  When you have done that your characters will come alive and tell a compelling story.