Writing in Role
Writing in Role is a drama strategy that asks students to write from a character’s perspective, typically in a familiar format like a diary entry; a letter, email, or text; a newspaper headline; or a letter to an editor. This reflective tool and performance-based assessment invites the student to make inferences about a character’s motivation and opinion, or to make predictions about what might happen next in a dramatic problem.
After a Town Hall Meeting, a Hot Seating interview, or another sort of ROLE WORK activity in which students perform as individual characters reacting to a dramatic problem, ask students to return to their seats, then gives them the task of reporting on what happened in the role-play from their character’s perspective. Where possible use this transition to extend the drama and deepen the commitment and critical thinking for students about the issue being explored. For example: After the secret meeting of the Sons of Liberty concluded, the colonists each left with a major question on their mind...would they meet at the harbor at midnight to empty the tea in the harbor? Each individual sat at their table, a candle burning beside them. Each pulled out diary; a quill and some ink, and begin to write. The colonists described what happened at the meeting, the words of Samuel Addams, and thought through their decision about whether or not to join the raid. I invite you now to take out your pen and paper and write the diary entry that your character wrote that night. Be sure to make a decision…will you join the protest? Why or why not! At the end of Writing in Role, invite students to share their writing with a colleague or a portion of their writing with the whole group.
- What did you discover about your character through the writing activity? What did we discover, generally, about the characters in our story/this moment in history?
- How did it feel to write as your character from within the drama?
- What do you think will happen next to the characters in our drama? Why?
- What type of language and/or writing form/structure is used in a diary/in an email/in a newspaper article/ in a letter to the editor?
- How does your writing match your character’s personality and reveal important information about who they are and what they believe or want?
- Consider other documents that can be written by students to explore character: letters of complaint, an invitation or card, Dear Abby (advice) letter, a resume, a campaign speech, a newspaper headline, a personal ad, a will, a dream journal, a medical report, or a psychological profile.