I wish I could take credit for this great character-building exercise, but I can’t: I found it on Pinterest via The Teacher Next Door! (Isn’t that where all the great ideas come from nowadays?) I used it during rehearsals for The Big Bad Musical, and it was so fantastic in helping my actors develop and grow their characters! It’s called a F.A.S.T. analysis, and it can be adapted in tons of different ways.
F.A.S.T. stands for Feelings, Actions, Sayings, and Thoughts. Depending on how old your actors are, you can give a minimum number of points per heading, or just let them free-for-all the exercise! My actors were between the ages of 8 and 13, so our requirement was a minimum of 3 points per heading.
Let’s go into more details about each section. For each section, some of the answers might be found in the text, and some you may need to figure out by yourself!
F = Feelings
How does your character feel about what’s going on in the show? How do their feelings change throughout the show? You might want to focus on a particularly important scene, or look at the overall feelings of the character. What makes the character feel the way they do?
A = Actions
What does your character physically do in the show? Do they throw books, break dishes, exercise, rearrange the furniture? Do they do things a particular way? Why do they do it?
How do they move? Do they skip, sneak, slither, sashay? Do they have a signature gesture? Why do they move this way? This will help you get your character up on its feet!
S = Sayings
This is the easy part, because all your answers come right from the text! What does your character actually say in the show that shows their character? Do they have a favourite saying or a signature phrase? How do they say what they say? How does it advance the plot, or reveal more about the character?
T = Thoughts
What does your character think about the situation that they’re in? What do they think about the people they interact with? What does he/she think about him/herself? Are the thoughts positive or negative? Are they truthful?
Going forward, actors should think about how their character’s Feelings, Actions, Sayings and Thoughts affect each other? How do the Feelings affect the Thoughts (or how do their Thoughts make them Feel?), how do the Actions affect the Sayings, and so on? All these things are what make the character unique!
The F.A.S.T. analysis is useful for helping your actors delve deeper into their characters. It ensures that actors can find evidence in the script/text to support their ideas. It helps them to think about what their character is like beyond the text, as well as give them a focus to help them take their thoughts about the character and bring them to life onstage.
Feel free to get as creative as you like with your F.A.S.T. analysis! Some actors like to type up a simple list, while some like to get wild with markers, stickers, drawings and sketches! You can make it as a graph or chart (like this) or even a scrapbook page. Extra bonus star points if you write it in character!
You may want to assign this exercise as a rehearsal project, or as a homework assignment. The F.A.S.T. analysis can really help your actors grow and develop their characters. They might even come up with ideas that you (their director) never even thought of — and what a wonderful thought that is!
Let me know if you’ve used the F.A.S.T. analysis in your rehearsal process,
and how it worked for your cast!
What other character-building exercises have you used? I’d love to know more about them!
Share your ideas with me on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below!
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