New Victory Arts Break: Devise a Show!

Everybody has a story to tell, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start! Just like a recipe for baking, there are many different ways to devise a show from scratch. In this New Victory Arts Break, we’ll play with a few different storytelling ingredients to get your show a-cookin’!

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Colorful arrows surround the words New Victory Arts Break, and four cutout photos of New Victory Teaching Artist Alberto Denis wearing different costume elements are scattered around.

Some of the videos in these Arts Break activities were filmed at the New Victory Theater. We acknowledge that New Victory resides on the seized homeland of the Lenape people and the intertribal territory of many First Nations. We celebrate and pay deep respect to all Indigenous peoples, past, present and future, and we encourage you to learn more about these vibrant communities.

Building a Character

The first stop on our devising journey is character building! A unique original character at the center of your story is key, but it can be tricky to know where to start. Luckily, New Victory Teaching Artist Alberto Denis is here to help with random costume elements and a roll of the dice!

Materials: Six-sided die, costume pieces and props

Step One: Gather some costume items! Pull six hats, six accessories, and six articles that can be worn around your neck or body, like jackets or scarves.

Step Two: Assign number one through six to each item in each of the three categories—headwear, neck or bodywear and accessories.

Step Three: Roll a die one time for each category. After each roll, put on the corresponding costume item!

Step Four: When you feel ready, ask yourself the following questions to learn more about your character:

  • What is my character’s name?
  • How would they say hello?
  • How do they move?
  • What would they wish for?

Step Five: The time has come! Introduce yourself as your character. Use the template below, or remix your own.

Character Introduction

Hello! My name is  , and I wish for  !

Amazing work! You’ve dreamt up and brought to life a brand-new character. Let’s continue the devising fun with more costuming!

Designing a Costume

Now that you’ve built the foundation for your character using a few key costume pieces, let’s dive deeper into the character creation process with a more complete costume design!

Materials: Costume design template (or make your own!), markers, colored pencils

Step One: Consider the character that you created before, or dream up a completely new character. Ask yourself the questions below:

  • How old is your character?
  • Where does your character live?
  • What does your character love to do? This could be a job or a hobby!
  • What are three words that describe your character?

Step Two: Assign a clothing piece to each of the questions above! For example, if the character loves ice skating, you can include ice skates in their costume!

Character illustration of a middle-aged artist in a purple jumpsuit with a crown in her big head of hair and a paintbrush and palette in her hands.

Step Three: Print our costume design template, or draw your own on blank paper, and begin illustrating your character’s costume! Bonus points if you design your character’s face and hair.


Gather similar clothing items from your wardrobe and try bringing your costume design to life!

Writing a Monologue

The final stop on today’s devising journey is scripting! What does your character have to say? Follow this step-by-step method for writing your own monologue—a story told by one character on stage.

Step One: Before we create a monologue of our own, let’s review some movie monologues from a few characters you may already know:

Step Two: Review the questions that you answered when designing your costume!

  • How old is your character?
  • Where does your character live?
  • What does your character love to do?
  • What are three adjectives to describe your character?

Step Three: Use your answers to the questions in Step Two to construct your monologue with the outline below, or freestyle your own!

Character Monologue

My name is (character name). I am (character age) years old and I live in (character home). I like living there because I spend a lot of my time doing (first hobby) and (second hobby). I love doing (either hobby) and have been doing it for (number) years. Sometimes people say that I am (first adjective), but I like to say that I’m (second adjective) and (third adjective).

Step Four: The final step is adding a hook, or opening statement, to your monologue. Consider using something like “This is the story of  ,” or remix it to add your own flair! You can also try ending your monologue with this same statement for emphasis.


Try memorizing your monologue and performing it for friends or family. Take a deep breath before you begin and have fun!

Encore! Encore!

Today you’ve devised your own character, costume and monologue for a never-before-seen piece of theater. Take a bow! Continue the fun with the Arts Break activities below from more of our spectacularly skillful New Victory Teaching Artists.

New Victory Teaching Artist Lauren Sharpe
Fold up a fortune-teller and perform a spontaneous story with Lauren Sharpe.
New Victory Teaching Artist Melle Phillips
Learn how to embody a character through careful research with Melle Phillips.
New Victory Teaching Artist Ugo Anyanwu
Use a personal experience to devise a theatrical performance with Ugo Anyanwu.

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