Solo Show Incubator: Creating A Historic Character Icon

Character Portraits & Transformations

Presented by Janice Orlandi – 

To be held online via Zoom: 

This workshop lays the foundation for performers to create, write, self direct and incubate a Solo Portrait Performance of a Historic Character Icon or Silver Screen Cinema Icon. Taking place online over Zoom in our virtual studio, we will make the most of the opportunity to play with the framing inherent to the medium of live video. Inspired by portrait paintings from history and photographs of silver screen cinema icons, we will incorporate character transformation and embodiment exercises, physical dramaturgy, historic research, costume elements, props, set, lighting, sound and music, to fully realize solo performances presented as a choreographed series of portrait images with text. You will have the option to write your own solo text, or to work on existing monologues.

Inspired by Michael Chekhov’s “Character Portrait Exercise,” you will create a character and their environment through exploring character portraits, archetypes, imaginary body transformations, movement and vocal qualities, animals, objects, and physical conditions. We will utilize character development tools for transformation including Michael Chekhov’s “psycho-physical” approach to creating a character; Stanislavski’s creating a character analysis tools; Uta Hagen’s Character History and Character Conditions exercises; and Loyd Williamson’s Impediment exercises for embodying “Altered States,” and “Period Styles” exercises for creating a period character and their imaginary world.

You will create a character biography, incorporating poetic verse and character quotes with physical dramaturgy and research to develop movement and staging, using a variety of storytelling and devising methods for finding gesture, action and story. 

Past workshop participants have explored icons including Nina Simone, Viola Spolin, Coco Chanel, Camille Claudel, Oscar Wilde, Ira Aldridge, Madam Jones, Rudyard Kipling, Marilyn Monroe, Madame Curie and Tennessee Williams.

The workshop will culminate with participants mounting presentations of 3-5 minute Historic Icon Solo-Portrait Performances during the last day of class.

Actors who have participated in this workshop before will have the opportunity to advance the work begun in prior sessions. Newcomers are welcome as well!


Sign up for either Part A or Part B independently (5 weeks each), or join both for the full 10 week term. You may join Part B without taking Part A:

Current and Upcoming