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Character Creation Part 6: Switch Change

So back in the intro post I said we would forget about the other definitions of character for the moment. This is when I’m bringing them back!

When I looked up the definitions for character, I remembered that one I use all the time, in fact I’m using right now to figure out how long these posts should be, is character as in "symbol, like a letter in an alphabet". And it actually is relevant for character creation in improv.

Because sometimes we need to focus on the essence of a character and forget about things like font or size or bold or italic.

Specifically in Switch Change.

Switch Change is a short-form game where four players play two characters in one scene, switching between the characters on stage and then changing with the off-stage players whenever "switch" or "change" are called, respectively.

Usually the audience gets to assume that an improvised character has the size, the voice, the other physical characteristics of the player.

Not so in Switch Change!

b b b b

are all the same character.

So what does that tell us about the important things about a character? They have to be aspects that aren’t affected by a change in player. Like objective, status, non-physical traits and physicality focused how they choose to use their body, not what the body looks like.

Emotion is tricky because of course it’s important but it also changes over time, so it can’t be the only thing defining the character.

A similar phenomenon comes up in the Genre Replay game. Now the character may be played by the same player (or not) but aspects of the story have changed due to the genre.

It could be that a stock character (i.e. a cowboy in a Western) needs to be combined with the original character. But those aspects usually only affect part of the character and usually leave their status and their objective intact. It's basically like changing the font.

are also all the same character.

Thanks for going with me on this multi-part deep dive into character creation in improv. Check out my other posts for musings on saying yes and platforms and more probably!

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