Role-playing is the act of assuming the behavior, identity and mannerisms of another person or archetype in order to present the actions of the other person. Role-play can be an entertaining event or a real challenge for individuals taking on roles that are dramatically different from their own personality. You can judge the success of a role-play event by a few specific criteria, with each evaluating an actor’s ability to meld with their alternate role.
Understanding of Role
A critical component of successful role-play involves an individual’s understanding of the role they are playing. This may include connecting to the emotions, time period, purpose or ideals of the role. For an individual to understand a role, he must understand the events that shaped the role and develop an understanding of how the role should fit into the world. For instance, an actor who is playing the role of an attorney should blend her understanding of the professionalism required for the part, while considering her role in the courtroom and relationship with her client.
During a role-play event, it is easy for an individual to overplay a role by misportraying the role. An actor should blend his own strengths, along with the mannerisms of the role. This also entails his ability to act and react within the story, and at times speculating on the emotional responses of events in the scenario. As an example, the attorney may keep a somber face during the trial scenario, except when he catches a witness in a lie. He may glance towards the jury with an appropriately commiserating facial expression that convinces the audience that the actor is completely aware of his role.
Continuity and Fluidity
Conversation occurs naturally between people, with responses quickly following questions or with natural pauses while people think. During a role-play event, individuals should present these same qualities in their presentations. An actor should never leave her role, keeping her conversations consistent, fluid and natural. For instance, the lawyer should only pause in conversation when it is appropriate to the scene, while using her acting talents to help the scene progress at a natural rate.
Every act of role-play involves some degree of interpretation. Each role has specific elements that the role defined, but many other elements that are not. The actor is responsible for defining these elements. Watch for any interpretations that the actor made about the role and whether he kept these interpretations were realistic. As an example, the age of the lawyer may not have been defined, leaving the actor to choose the age to which he portrays the role. He may choose an older lawyer role, showing more experience in the courtroom and more relaxed mannerisms.
Kristyn Hammond has been teaching freshman college composition at the university level since 2010. She has experience teaching developmental writing, freshman composition, and freshman composition and research. She currently resides in Central Texas where she works for a small university in the Texas A&M system of schools.