How to develop a character in a historical setting

 In this workshop at Cambridge Victorian Pumping Station, Kay Blayney, introduced the participants to promenade theatre techniques.

 Do please download the lesson plans which you will find online on this page & do share with other teachers on curriculum resource pages.  The documents below are for you to download and print to use for a class:


Teacher: Kay Blayney


Year: 5

Subject: Drama

Unit: Victorian Cambridge


Date: 17th June 2016



Time: 50 minute sessions

No. of children in class: 14

Notes: This lesson can be taught to up to 30 pupils within a group

Learning Objective:

  • To create characters by using a relaxation exercise which incorporates using the 5 Senses: Sight, Smell, Hearing, Touch & Taste.
  • To understand the drama strategies required to develop characters.
  • To show and evaluate characters and short scenes.





Characterisation; the 3 elements of a Freeze Frame (Body language, Facial expression & Eye focus); Thought-track; Relaxation technique; Create; Perform; Respond (Evaluation).





Key Questions:  

Pupils will be guided through a process of questioning / exploration which will enable them to secure their knowledge of the drama strategies of Body Language, Facial Expression, Eye Focus, Freeze Frame and Thought-Tracking and how these can he used as tools for developing characters. This part of the lesson will be heavily teacher led with the use of modelling, questioning and small group /whole class discussions. The inclusion of the pupils prior learning will be extracted upon at this point Teacher check pupils’ learning at regular intervals throughout the lesson, referring to the history topic and set targets.





History works briefing notes; Stanislavski – An Actor Prepares; Drama key words/Glossary of drama terms




Learning Activities


All pupils will be participating in the ‘Name Game’ for introduction purposes and as a memory devise. (If required, a scaffold will be provided via modelling the game using other adults within the room). Re-cap included for inclusion.

Main Activity:

Explain to the pupils that they are going to participate in a relaxation exercise by lying down on the floor (preferably with their eyes closed). Once they have settled, go through the senses one by one starting with ‘sight’, asking questions like: Picture the following – A house you once lived in; an earthworm; a starry sky. You can extend the questions and shape these appropriately to fit in with the topic. For example, by asking them to picture winter snow and asking if this picture would be the different in Victorian times.

The questioning then addresses, sound, smell, taste and touch; using the phrases: Hear the following, Smell the following, taste in your mouth and Imagine the feel of. Again, the questions can include things that would have existed years ago as well as today, e.g. the smell of wet grass, the sound of the sea etc.

Once the questioning is complete the pupils can sit up quietly without talking to each other as they need to focus on their memory recall as a response to this exercise.

During this session the pupils will respond to what they have remembered and how a specific sense has helped them to do this, e.g. a pupil may say that they felt the ‘wet fish’ and that this was horrible or that they ‘smelt the hot toast’ and that this was comforting or warm. This is the point where the pupils can empathise with each other about likes and dislikes as well as stirred emotions, which they can then transfer into their character work.








Practical / workshop style.



TA Role:



Guided Group work:



Plenary:  All Pupils will check that the lesson objectives have been met, by working out what they have learnt through the process of the Characterisation / Relaxation lesson as a performance development tool as well as via the performance feedback session. The pupils will also have the opportunity to add their emotional memory recall senses work to their practical drama key skills e.g. freeze frames and thought-tracks.






By Outcome












Written character profile




Success Criteria:

Pupils will have created a character that is clearly different to themselves.




Assessment Opportunities:

Create – Perform – Respond

(Drama objective bank)



Lesson Plan Kay Blayney©

How to develop a character in a historical setting


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