Bringing Christmas Characters to Life (part 2 of 3)
Character Movement and Performance (part 2 of 3)
Let’s talk about movement. Our bodies are always talking. Every gesture, posture, or glance can tell an observer a little bit of information. We are telling non-verbal stories. And when we consider “character movement,” this focuses on how you can use your physical performance skills to bring your Christmas character to life.
Studies have shown that most of our communication is not spoken words. Just think about that: Standing or sitting, you are communicating. Let’s be better at it.
Also, remember that children learn how to read physical and meta-communication before they learn any verbal communication. As a Santa, that can be very useful. How we carry ourselves says a lot about our characters. It helps establish them and make them believable, quickly.
The (Movement) Walking Exercise
Here’s a movement exercise for you to try. These exercises work best when you have someone who can prompt you with the changes and watch what you do. Then exchange roles and run the exercise again.
- Stand loose and relaxed.
- Start walking, as normally as possible. Imagine a walk on a sunny day in a park.
- Now, change the SIZE of the movement: Small or Big
- Change the WEIGHT of the movement: Light or Heavy
- Change the SPEED of the movement: Fast or Slow
- Change the DIRECTION of the movement: Straight or Curved
- Change the TENSION of the movement: Loose or Tight
- Change the FOCUS of the movement: At What or Where you are looking. (Up, down, inwardly, freely, etc.)
If you have someone working with you, watch each other as you go through the exercise. You’ll find that the mood and story you are telling can change with just a few differences.
Repeat with Emotion Words
Now, let’s go one step further. Let’s try some emotion words. Try expressing those words physically while walking.
- Happy. Sad.
- Angry. Lost. Mischievous.
- Important. Not Important.
- Young. Old.
It might surprise you that most of us are pretty good at these physical expressions. We’ve been doing it all our lives.
Now try bringing these words to life, physically.
- Regal. Playful.
- Mischievous. Graceful.
- Loving: Big, to a room. Loving: Small, to a child.
Mix in some of the earlier variations, such as speed, direction, weight, or tension.
- Mischievous Santa might include: Light, on the balls of his feet, smaller movements, somewhat quick, moving in very short lines, or curved ones, have some tightness, and be looking out of the corners of his eyes, slightly.
- Regal Santa might move with: Larger steps, heels down first, solid steps. He would move slower, straight longer lines, his arms would be looser, and he would be looking forward at eye level.
Putting this into Practice for Specific Events
If you are going to be delivering a gift in a fun way, or do a fancy tree lighting, here are some things to work on.
- Practice being dynamic, and watch for your key gestures when you are in character.
- What would some of Santa’s key gestures be? Thumbs in the belt, adjust glasses… what else?
- What would some of Mrs. C’s key gestures be? Adjusting jacket, hat, holding her hands together… what else?
- What would an Elf’s key gestures be? Level changes, twirling a bell, bouncing… what else?
If someone can see you, then you are effectively on stage. One important rule of thumb that can help you: ALWAYS give your character something to do. Even if you have nothing in your hands, you could ponder, count, recall a joke, or actively people watch and respond.
Once we’ve started to develop our characters’ personal movement repertoire, then we can start developing relationships to other performers. How Mrs. and Mrs. Claus act towards each other can help define a relationship, without saying a word, and help you win hearts!
Stay tuned to CPW for more helpful hints! Next up: Having a more expressive face!
Here’s some upcoming dates and some shameless self-promotion. Did you know that you can have CPW put together a Performing Workshop, designed with your specific group in mind? Here’s what some recent students have said.
“The single BEST performing workshop I have been a part of!!! – Al Jastrum
Christmas Performers Workshops gets a 5-STAR rating from Minnesota Santas. Massive amounts of important material to bring your Santa personae to a new level!! Thank You Robert for sharing your time and talent in Minnesota this past weekend!
“To my Brothers in Red, Mrs. Claus and Elf’s, if you get the opportunity please, check out Santa True Christmas Performer Workshop. This workshop will take your character to the next level. It is truly a must-attend workshop.” – Santa Tony
Upcoming Christmas Performer Workshops
First, many thanks to North Star Santa’s August 26 and August 27, 2017 for their event in Stillwater, Minnesota. It was a lot of fun, and I am proud to be an Honorary NorthStar Santa! Hope to see you again soon!
CPW Schedule 2017
September 23, 2017 near Denver, CO
Next up is “Adding Value to your Performance,” a CPW “Performing Tune Up” for the upcoming season: Saturday, September 23, from 12-5 PM at the Lakewood Church of Christ, in Lakewood, CO. This will be a potluck type event. They are asking for a $20 donation per attendee. The event address is Lakewood Church of Christ, 455 South Youngfield Court, Lakewood, CO, 80228.
Send your RSVP to D. Christopherson email@example.com or T. Carmody firstname.lastname@example.org – This event open to all Christmas Performers, including managers, handlers, and supporters. Come join us!
November 3-4, 2017 Grand Mound, WA
Christmas Performer Workshops (Santa True) will be at the NORPAC SANTAS 8th Annual Northwest Santa Workshop at Great Wolf Lodge, Grand Mound WA over November 3-4, 2017 (located at Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound, 20500 Old Hwy 99 SW, Centralia, WA 98531, USA).
In 2018, don’t be surprised if you see CPW teaching classes and workshops at the FORBS Reunion in Southern California and at ISC Denver, Colorado.
Want to have some fun and educational training that will have your group thinking about innovating? Want to create something new? Contact us today, and let’s book some workshops! Check out http://christmasperformerworkshops.com/ for earlier helpful hint articles.
On behalf of CPW, True, Cat, and our friends, thank you very much.
It is our belief that the future of our Art as Christmas Performers depends on investing in ourselves and in each other as Performers and Entertainers: Putting the Heart in the Christmas Art. CPW is about helping you make the magic happen!
Santa (at) SantaTrue.com