Jerry Chikwe-Iwu (17)
plays Harry (a soldier from the 1950s) in 'Same'
Emma Finegan (16)
plays Clare (in her late seventies) in 'Same'
The writers of 'Hearts' and 'Same' have written a range of wonderfully distinctive characters for young people to create on stage. Some of them, such as the elderly people in 'Same', are very different to the young teens who perform them. Below, a few of our young performers write a bit about how they developed their characters for the plays.
When I got the part of Clare in 'Same', I read over the scene a couple of times just to familiarise myself with the lines before the first rehearsal. As I read I started to hear Clare’s voice in my head and imagined what she sounded like. She is somewhere between my Granny and my English teacher! I had not read the script out loud before I went into the first rehearsal, but from the first line Clare’s voice sort of just came out of my mouth in the way I imagined it (if that makes any sense at all?). Once I had a sense of what kind of person Clare was in the nursing home, I created a background of her life; from the year she was born, to her occupation and then to why she ended up in the old people’s home. This didn’t really change anything in my performance of the character but I just felt that it would help me to understand her if I knew every detail about her. I also wrote about Clare’s relationship with her sister and also with the others in the nursing home.This was my process to creating my character in 'Same'. It wasn’t very structured or well thought-out, but a sense of the character just kind of came to me at the start and then I just expanded and explored deeper from there.
When taking on the role as Harry in 'Same' (and Mary in 'Hearts') for Connections, I first went through the script and see what the character says about himself, what other say about him, and the facts about the character in the script. Then, in order to get a better understanding of him, I wrote a character journal for him. I included significant dates in the life of the character. For example, Mary in 'Hearts' has just had his braces removed. I wrote about the day before I (as Mary) was going to have the braces removed and the excitement I felt, and about how I was very impatient to go and show my friends my newly straightened teeth.
While writing a character journal I observed certain people in school. I have used real peropl's mannerisms, some walks, some attitudes and demeanours, to help me flesh out each character. I have also researched imporatnt events and occurances in the life of the character. For example. Harry in 'Same' is an 1950s soldier who was kicked out of the army. I looked what it was like to be in the army on the 1950s and what reasons would have been for them to kick you out of it. I discovered how traumatic is was for the family, and for him. With my fellow performer, who plays Harry's wife, we invented a life story, including the stories of our children, and how this might affect the way we speak about them in the play.
After doing all of this, I then feel I have a better grasp of the characters and what their world is like.
Creating my character Simone for 'Hearts' was a lot of fun because she is the complete opposite to me. She has completely different opinions and a very different attitude to myself.
After I first read the script, I saw Simone as a dopey, yet intimidating character who is very manipulative and controlling of her "friends". Firstly, I created a visual image in my head of how I would imagine a girl like this to look and dress, and then I imagined how a person like this would walk and talk and what exactly made them the way they are. I like to create my own back story for my character so that everything the character says and does makes sense.
To try figure out how to act like this kind of person, I looked for the traits I found in Simone in the script, in people that I know, and watched how they talk to people, and how they react to people. I tried to pick up on every little detail of how they speak and move, I even try to imitate how they walk. Simone is definitely not a person I would be friends with, so I focused on people that I am not fond of to create this character which made it even more fun for me because I am in many ways poking fun at the kind of people who annoy me by being this mean, controlling and two faced character.
Allie Whelan (17)
plays Simone in 'Hearts'