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Drama

Option A

Tips for performing and group work

Role on the wall

'role on wall' outline of a person

When you're developing characters, you need as much information as possible about them.

This technique can help you get into your role. It’s also a good technique to use when creating characters for your devised practical work. And it’s an effective rehearsal technique.

In this Revision Bite, you'll learn how to tease out this information, using a role on the wall ['role on the wall': An activity used to develop characters and present information about that character ] diagram.

What's a 'role on the wall' diagram?

A 'role on the wall' diagram is usually just an outline of a person with information written on it - either inside the outline, or round the edge. It represents the character you're exploring.

While your 'role on the wall' diagram isn't likely to be part of your Documentary Response, often the work you do on it leads to good ideas for scenes, so be sure to point this out in your Documentary Response written work.

Tip:

If you're having trouble imagining your character, try hot-seating [hot-seating: To question an individual while they remain in character ] - you'll soon get the ideas flowing!

What to include?

A 'role on the wall' diagram can include:

  • how the character feels about him/herself
  • how the character feels about other people
  • what the character thinks about his/her life and/or events
  • what other people think about the character
  • his/her likes and dislikes
  • his/her history
  • his/her dreams or regrets

This information can be very detailed, or just jottings of single words that describe your character.

Detailed information

Here's an example of detailed 'role on the wall' diagram notes based on a character from a play called Adam Wilson.

Character - Adam Wilson

  • wishes he was as 'cool' as his mates
  • feels jealous of Martin - who's a hit with girls though he's got no respect for them.
  • really likes Emily - but he's too shy to ask her out.
  • some boys tease him about his clothes and his ideas - but use him to get their homework done.
  • most girls think he's a bit 'square', but they like his ready smiles and courtesy. They never think of going out with him.
  • Emily hardly speaks to him - she thinks he's kind, but mostly ignores him because people say he's got no 'street cred'. She's from a different background.
  • wishes his father would ease up on him - always criticising him.
  • good at academic subjects, a good student generally, thoughtful and liked by teachers.
  • his form teacher senses he's unhappy at school at times - but whenever he questions him, Adam says he's fine. Teacher knows this isn't the whole truth, but doesn't want to push.
  • wants to be a nurse - but afraid to say so, and he's going to be choosing his subjects this year.
  • wishes his family had enough money to buy him the sort of clothes and gear the other boys have.
  • loves his family dearly - but also frustrated because they don't seem to understand him. Can't go out with the lads at the weekends, because he has to work on his father's small-holding.

Document

Download completed 'role on the wall' diagram (PDF file 259kb)

Your 'role on the wall' diagram

You don't need to word-process your work but you may wish to use colour coding to make it clearer for your purposes.

Example 1: Alex's 'role on the wall'

There is some useful information here. Further details could include:

  • why does the character, Jo, look up to Shaz?
  • when has the character shown that she likes having power?
  • why is the character scared of Shaz? What has happened in the past?

Further details like this could make a difference to your work by informing your understanding of why the character is like she is. From working on the details alternative scenes may suggest themselves.

Tip:

Ask the questions 'why?', 'what?' or 'when?' as you develop your work. Your answers might surprise you, and give you the details you need!

Example 2: Gemma's 'role on the wall'

This student has shown her information in a different format - which is fine. There are some interesting points here, and they're well balanced. But the table could be more detailed, giving a greater insight into the character, eg:

  • in what way is character shown to be caring?
  • in what ways does character feel helpless?
  • what would character like to be able to do?
  • why do others see character as a cheat?

Tip:

Remember to ask yourself 'why?', 'what?' or 'when?' about some of your statements, to give greater information on the characters

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