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Christopher Vened Szwaja

Acting and Movement Workshop 

Character Development

The program of the class is based on Christopher Vened’s book: In Character: An Actor’s Workbook for Character Development.  In this concise manual, Vened describes the principles, directions, assignments, techniques, exercises, and examples needed for the mastery of the actor’s craft and art of portraying character. 


It is a psychophysical method in the sense that it combines the “external” and “internal” approaches to character study into one complementary system, consisting of various psychological methods and movement techniques. It is so because the different aspects or dispositions of the character require different approaches. 


Christopher Vened guides the actor, step by step, how to explore and develop the character in all its aspects. It is a thorough method of character study. The actor’s work proceeds in three stages: interpretation of, identification with, and self-expression in or in relation to the character. 


The actor interprets the character by analyzing the character’s dispositions, traits, circumstances, conducts, actions, and deeds. Specificity is stressed as the key to strict interpretation of the character, the way the author intended it. 


The actor identifies with the character through embodiment and/or personification of the character’s dispositions and qualities, and by re-creating the character’s manner and conduct, as exactly as possible. 


The actor reveals his or her identity by self-expressing in or in relation to the character. The motto is: “Find yourself in the character and the character in yourself.” 


Note: The class begins with a warm up through Plastic Exercises, which are described below. Also, the class includes Monologue and/or Scene Work. 

Plastic Exercises is a formal training of the body that is specially designed for the physical actor, the actor-mime, but also increasingly appreciated by drama actors and other stage artists who wish to acquire or improve their movement skills. 


The actor trains the body, part by part, as an instrument of expression, through plastic exercises. It involves bending, shifting, and rotations. Actor also explores kinds of movement, learns how to form the body in space through counterpoint, and how to work with images (imaginary objects) through identification. There are also mime elements. Besides formal exercises, the class includes improvisations.


The purpose of the training is to explore the functions of the body, and to discover its means of expression in correspondence with psychology. The idea is that you can express only that which is already pre-designed in the body. The point is to find it. The more malleable body you have, the more expressive actor you become.

Plastic Exercises

Christopher Vened is a drama writer and director.

He was born in 1952, in Poland, where he was an actor-mime from 1974 until the end of 1981 in the Wroclaw Pantomime Theater founded by Henryk Tomaszewski.

While on tour with the company in Germany, he defected because marital law was declared in Poland. Since then he has been living in the West, first in West Berlin for two and a half years, and then in the United States. He likes to think about himself as a citizen of the world and an international artist.

Whether here or there, he has been involved in the work of theater: directing, teaching, and performing.

He is the author of the acting book In Character: An Actor’s Workbook for Character Development

He is presently revising his one-man show, A Quest for Human Identity

He is inclined toward the theater of meaning and thinks that meaning has been lost in the modern/postmodern culture and needs to be restored or found anew.

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