Duo and Creating Character

Whether you are competing in Duo interpretation or Duet Acting, creating believable characters is fundamental.  Characterization is the vessel for demonstrating your interpretive skills.  Character work shows your analysis of an individual, of dialogue, and of how language/action affects the overall plot.  As you and your Duo partner create characters, there are a few specific aspects you can develop for specificity.  As always, refer to your script, and forge a character that supports the text.

  • Stance. How does the character stand?  Are their legs far apart or close?  Are the knees bent or are the legs like poles?  How you stand speaks much about self.  For example, an older character might have the knees bent to represent old age.  An uptight persona might stand with their legs stuck together and without any bend. 
  • Posture. Posture most likely will relate to stance.  If a character has a stance of poker-straight legs, then their posture should match and be straight as well.  Confidence is measured in posture.  Strong willed people usually stand erect; shy people tend to cave into themselves.  Use this knowledge to better visually define who a character is.
  • Voice. Accents, vocal patterns, tone, pitch, anything relative to how your voice sounds is an easy way to differentiate characters.  Of course, you always want your voice to have good diction and projection so you are heard and understood, but otherwise play around and find a voice for a character to speak through.
  • Ticks. If there exists an eccentric character, or one with a specified mannerism, do give your character a defining tick.  Mannerisms can reveal a lot about a character or be an easy way to add uniqueness.  Something as simple as having a character who asks many questions slightly tilt their head to the side when they are confused can be an interesting quirk.
  • Overall appearance. How fast does your character move?  Are there certain arm postures that a character maintains (such as arms just dangling at the sides with few gestures)?  Are there particular gestures one character mostly uses?  Are there any facial expressions a character seems stuck in?  All these little details add-up to form a character.  Go back to your analysis and visualize how that person would look and do it!  If you need to, think of a personality or person you know who mirrors this character and borrow some of their traits.
  • Walk. How does your character walk?  Duos allow for walking so why not have characterization through movement?  An easy way to create a walk is to take characterization used while standing still and apply it into a walk.  For example, if a character stands with straight legs then most likely their walk will have little bend in the legs.  To get a walk down pat try exaggerating their walk, make it HUGE to memorize their movements, and then pull back into a "normal" walk. 
  • Be consistent. As you develop and practice your character(s), you will see how being consistent is critical for success.  Once a Duo character begins to have murky characteristics then interpretation begins to fail.  Practice will bring solid personas.
  • Be detailed and original. The more specific and varied you make each character, the easier it will be to stay consistent and deliver readily recognizable characters. 
  • PRACTICE. The only way to accomplish anything is through practice.  That, and some persistence.

A Duo might have several characters, and all must be individuals.  Take the time to thoroughly cultivate a character.  Lovingly draft them, flesh them out, and practice to make them breath.  It might drive you mad fully visualizing a character, but once they're alive your Duo will prosper.