Devising Characters (short course)

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Why study this course?

Explore different approaches to character building and devising through this unique course. Based on the notion of actor as creator, we place the performer at the heart of the creative process. Rather than interpreting a written text and building a character from a play, you'll be writing your own characters and stories.

More about this course

Taught by Italian actress, director, writer and academic Chiara D’Anna, this will be a playful, energising and stimulating course to help discover the extraordinary potential of our imagination and the expressivity of our bodies. Through animal work, improvisation, object work, images and music, you'll learn how to build a character and develop a narrative both as a solo-performer and as a member of an ensemble.

Actors, drama students, teachers and theatre directors interested in expanding their theatre skills will all benefit from this course. It is particularly useful for students and theatre practitioners interested in devising theatre and physical approaches to characterisation. Our multilingual approach celebrates cultural and language differences, leading to an exciting learning environment.

We'll explore different vocal and physical techniques for devising, primarily inspired by the tradition of popular theatre (such as clowning, storytelling, Commedia dell’Arte), as well as physical theatre and immersive site-specific work.

Some of these exercises and activities will be inspired by the influential work of Copeau and more specifically, three fundamental principles of ensemble theatre:

  • le jeu (playfulness)
  • complicité (togetherness)
  • disponibilité (openness)

Texts, music, sounds, images and objects inspired by a specific theme chosen collectively by the group will provide the initial source of inspiration to stimulate the ensemble.

Unlike other courses, Chiara's eclectic background and wide-ranging experience in Commedia dell’Arte, dance-theatre, physical theatre as well as text-based theatre and cinema, means that rather than following a set style, you'll be encouraged to experiment with different approaches, styles and genres.

Our creative journey will culminate in a site-specific short piece performed at London Metropolitan University in front of an invited audience.

Fees and key information

Course type
Short Course
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Who's this course for?

This course is suitable for all.

Course structure

Throughout these four or six weeks you'll have the opportunity to work individually, in pairs or small groups; and will receive individual feedback from the tutor.

The work will be structured in four main stages:

  1. improvisation and discovery: free exploration/improvisation with visual and aural stimuli, props and costumes
  2. awareness and repetition: creation of physical and vocal scores for character-building
  3. development of characters’ narrative
  4. montage: juxtaposition and concatenation of characters’ narratives in the creation of an ensemble piece

Activities will include:

  • warm-up body and voice: playful activities to expand performers’ vocal and physical skills
  • improvisations with props, costumes, music, visual stimuli (drawings, paintings, pictures) and text
  • development of characters’ interactions
  • creative and imaginative work with the space
  • play with tempo-rhythm, pace and composition during the final stages of development of the devised piece (montage phase)

By the end of the course, you should have developed a range of transferable skills and techniques and be able to:

  • build a character through improvisation with objects, music, costumes and visual stimuli
  • embody a character through a process of physical and vocal transformation
  • create physical and vocal scores for performance
  • develop a devised solo and ensemble work

Please wear comfortable clothing suitable for physical activity.

Course dates

Course dates

Autumn dates will be confirmed in August


One?day a?week for?six?weeks

Day and time

Saturday,?10am to 1pm

Maximum class size 12
Contact hours 18


A 20% discount is available for:

  • those who are registered as unemployed and in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit.
  • those whose sole or main income is a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) state retirement pension
  • those who are registered as disabled and in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • full-time and part-time UK students on credit-bearing courses
  • London Metropolitan University students on year-long day courses
  • London Metropolitan University alumni members
  • London Metropolitan University staff

If you're eligible for the 20% discount, please contact us before booking.

What's included in the price?

The cost of any materials is included in the fees.?

Terms and conditions

Please read our?terms and conditions?before booking.

How to apply

Booking for this course isn't open at this time as the dates of the next intake are not yet confirmed. Please get in touch for further information or register your interest to receive notification as soon as booking opens.

When to apply

Please note, the deadline to book a place on one of our short courses is one week before the start date. If you have missed the deadline, please get in touch and we will do our best to accommodate you.