Making your Character Come Alive workshop
August 1998

Making your character come alive should be fun. All you need is a little information about your person and the times in which they lived, a prop and a couple of good stories. The following lists are ideas intended to stimulate your creativity. You will met several hundred people over the course of two days and you won’t get to spent a lot of time with anyone person, so you only need to repeat a simple story over and over. This is not a quiz, history is not perfect and everyone knows you are simply acting. They might even try to trip you up just to have fun with you. If they do, just laugh and wish them a pleasant day.

Here’s some pointers:

* Your activity does not have to be complicated, you can just be doing chores or daily activities.
* Know one or two stories that you can repeat in about 2 to 5 minutes. People won’t stay long and you will move from group to group. You can always "beg off" if things get bogged down with a simply statement like, "oh, there’s Stephen F. Austin and I need to talk to him about the title to my land, please excuse me...."
* Go up and engage people. Comment about their strange clothes, hair styles, spectacles, shoes, etc. Then you can launch into one of your stories.
* Be animated. Swagger, wave your arms, make broad jesters, be relaxed.
* Imagine what your character would be doing in town with all these strangers around, what chore does he need to do, what the weather is compared to where he came from, how his neighbors are, seen any hostile Indians (the Cherokee are friendly as are the Bedias, the Commanches to the west and the Karankawa along the coast were often hostile), what you think about world affairs, etc.
* Have fun, that’s what everyone there wants to do, so help them and join them.
* If you get someone who wants to argue history, send them to Bob Handy, David Pomeroy, or some other big ugly person.


Possible props:

* yarn
* leather working goods
* gourds
* pistol making kit
* knife/axe/tomahawk & sharpener
* bowl of long green beans
* mending/sewing equipment
* musical instrument
* writing material, feather pen, sharpener
* carders & raw wool or cotton to card
* halter rope, bucket, hoe, etc

Suggested Activities:

* food preparation: shucking corn, grinding corn, shelling peas, etc
* embroidery, knitting, crocheting, tatting, quilting, mending (just don’t use acrylic yarns)
* wood chopping, kindling making, splitting wood, sawing boards
* leather work, gourd work, bead work
* story tell, reading
* writing/penmanship, quill, quill cutting
* firestarting
* gunsmithing
* spinning, weaving, carding
* braiding, rope making
* hauling water, firewood, etc
* tool sharpening, knife, axe, tomahawk
* clothes washing, rug beating, soap making, dying
* smoking, drying, jerking
* water proofing: canvas, gourds, etc.
* bullet molding
* play music

And here are ten questions that you probably won’t be asked (if you are lucky):

1. What is your birth order?
2. What’s your favorite food?
3. Are you a morning person or a night person?
4. What do you like best about Texas?
5. What do you like least about Texas?
6. Can you read and write?
7. What do you do in your spare time? For entertainment? For relaxation?
8. What’s your favorite childhood memory?
9. What one social convention do you like to break?
10. What type of sicknesses have you experienced in Texas?

Relax, enjoy yourself and help other people have a good time.

Article courtesy of David & Cait Pomeroy

Selected Reading for the Acting Workshop

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