Switching Roles

Stepping into the Story will become more successful if you practice carefully how you are going to switch between the roles of the characters in the story. As people have conversations in the story, you will need to become those different people. The trickiest part is to switch roles quickly, but to do so without hurrying through the story. You distinctly move from one character to the next. In your mind you need to know clearly who you are. First you are the brothers, the next moment you switch to Joseph. For example:

You go from Joseph, to the brothers, back to Joseph and the brothers. You switch quickly, seamlessly, but you are not in a hurry. Use your body language to establish who you are. In order to step into someone’s role, you don’t need to be speaking constantly. Showing is much more powerful than telling. Use your body language and your voice to show what is going on, and take your time. Only when going fast serves a clear purpose, you can use it. Let me show you what I mean:

Switching between characters too fast makes it confusing and makes it hard for the listeners to keep up with what is happening.

It’s also less appealing if you kind of narrate the conversation – narrate without really getting into it like this:

Or if you slowly move from one role into the next, it seems that you are not really in anyone’s role at all. You pause the actual story by doing that:

When you go too slowly, the entire story slows down and you will lose your audience. They don’t have the patience to slow down with you, and kids are not like adults – they will not pretend to listen, they will just disengage and that will literally be the end of your story.

So, switch roles very intentionally. Know who you are, which role you are in. Take your time to show what is going on in the story, but keep it moving at the same time.

Pay attention to how fast the conversation would have taken place in real life. Sometimes people start talking as soon as someone is finished, especially if they are angry and interrupt each other. But many times there will be a pause before someone replies. As you teach, don’t be in a rush to simply say all your lines. Take time to truly imagine that you are that person. Don’t tell yourself you are “only pretending”, because it will show in how you portray a character. Imagine that you are that person. Speak, act and feel like the person you are portraying. Show the children that these were real people with real emotions, real relationships, real problems and real lives. During the preparation phase you can try out different ways, and then choose the one that will bring the message across in the most powerful way.

Not all the words in our stories are spoken by people. Our stories often contain a lot of narration. Narrating well is crucial!

Coming up next – Step into the Narrator’s Role

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