Acting 101: Character Development With Games and Exercises

(6 customer reviews)

From: $93.00 / month for 3 months

Grades: 8th–12th

Live Class: Monday 5:30–7:00 p.m. ET

Dates: Fall 1: Aug 29–Oct 14

Price: $249

Instructor: Jill Panyard

See Reviews of Instructor Jill Panyard


Course Description

This live online acting class is for students in 8th–12th grades. During this seven-week course, students will learn beginning acting and character development techniques using games and exercises that work well in an online environment. The course will help students learn the skills required to bring a character to life on stage. Additionally, students will learn to analyze character development by viewing assigned scenes from theatrical productions on film and then discussing them together as a class. Students will develop self-confidence and poise, while increasing their appreciation for the dramatic arts. The class is aligned with the National Standards of the Theatre Arts.

The class includes weekly 90-minute meetings on Zoom with a small class size. Class attendance is required, and participation is necessary. Students will present individually and, at times, with a partner or in small groups. Class time is essential for students to participate in discussion and exercises, leading them to awareness and understanding of character development. Each class builds on the next, making it necessary for students to come to class prepared and ready for challenge and fun! Even through a virtual experience, students will still come away with an understanding of what stage performance requires. This mini course can be used as a partial credit for language arts, public speaking, or fine arts elective.

Goals for the class include:

  • Students become familiar with all elements of the theatre.
  • They understand acting tools and techniques.
  • They understand the rules and reasons for improvisational exercises.
  • They become comfortable with theatre games and exercises.
  • They learn the many aspects of a stage character.
  • They understand the development of characters through games and exercises.
  • They learn how to develop a character from the imagination.
  • They create and use developed characters in improvisational exercises.

Course Structure

Assignments may include:

  • Observe and record movements and mannerisms of people in a public setting.
  • Observe and record movements and mannerisms of people in your household.
  • Read assigned articles and prepare for group discussion.
  • Create a bio of an imagined character.
  • Video record an improvised monologue.
  • Participate in an interview with your developed character.
  • Watch a play on film and choose one character to observe and create a report.
  • One test will be given to measure comprehension.

No text is required for this class. All forms and handouts are provided. Viewing one movie, Rebecca or Finding Neverland, is required through a paid television service, YouTube, or borrowing a DVD from your local library.

Who should enroll?

Students in 8th—12th grade are welcome to enroll. This class is foundational for all Aim Academy acting courses, but is not considered a prerequisite for them. Enrollment will help any student get an idea of what acting is all about. Enthusiasm and willingness to participate are the only prerequisites.

Technology Requirements

  • High speed, broadband Internet
  • Sound card and working microphone (for live sessions)
  • Streaming video capabilities to watch recorded lectures
  • Digital camera (can be phone with camera), or other means to record individual acting exercises
  • Sufficient internet service with good sound and video quality are necessary to participate in class activities

Evaluation and Feedback

  • All homework will be submitted and formally critiqued through Canvas.
  • The National Standards for the Theatre Arts will provide a rubric for some exercises.
  • Individual assessment and encouragement will be provided weekly.
  • Students will learn to critique others in positive and helpful ways to help them be good actors and good audience members.

As a teacher, I am very enthusiastic about developing the creativity and talents of young people through theatre. Taking an acting class does not require one to major in musical theatre in college or become a stage actor in community theatre. I believe acting helps to create life-long skills including public speaking, being believable and honest, using the imagination, understanding motivation and tactics, and more. I challenge my students in their work, offer feedback, and generously encourage them.

Required Texts


No text necessary for this class. Course materials supplied by Instructor.

6 reviews for Acting 101: Character Development With Games and Exercises

  1. Anonymous Student

    It was so cool creating a character! Not just imagining, but bringing the my character to life through acting was especially fascinating. My favorite part was exploring the all the depth and variation you can act with. Different spectrums of emotion, etc.

  2. Parent

    My son was fully engaged during these classes. He eagerly anticipated Mondays and another opportunity to meet with the group. When we enrolled I was somewhat skeptical of the effectiveness of an online acting class. But the course proved to be productive, interesting, and full of fun. If only my son begged for more classes in his other subjects!

  3. Parent

    Adam loved the class – so it exceeded my expectations. I would love this to be a full semester course. I would love to have assigned roles and maybe do a little online skit. The class was fantastic.

  4. Evan R.

    It was very fun, and I really enjoyed the games.

  5. Chico Monroy Encore Homeschool Productions alumni

    Mrs. Panyard is one of a kind! I had the opportunity and privilege of working with her for 5 years. Her unique way of teaching is one that can always bring the best out of any actor no matter what level you’re at. She has brought me from just a kid who did ensemble to being a 4 time Hershey Theater Apollo Award nominee and a 1 time winner for outstanding lead actor in a musical. Although I did put in the work, I couldn’t have done it without the guidance and mentoring of Mrs P. The love she has for her students and the theater is truly amazing! Highly recommend if your looking for a safe and effective environment to grow and find yourself as an actor/actress!

  6. Bethany Stutzman

    I have had the pleasure of working with Mrs. Panyard on many occasions. Her direction, insight, and encouragement has shaped me into the actor I am today. Taking her acting class in high school provided me with the fundamental tools needed to pursue my professional career in the theatre. Not only is she a teacher, but also a mentor, patiently guiding her students every step of the way. She always provides a safe environment to learn, grow, and explore one’s craft. She also truly cares about each of her students, encouraging them to succeed to their highest potential. I will forever be grateful to Mrs. P for being such an influential part of my life and acting career.

    Bethany Stutzman
    BFA Musical Theatre Major-Rider University

  7. James Snyder

    I have been directed by Mrs. Panyard during my past 11 seasons with Encore Homeschool Productions. The characters I played came to life on the stage thanks to her. She patiently teaches you how to understand and really learn the character that you are trying to portray. Her ability to not be too serious during character work puts you at ease so that you can fully get into character and not feel embarrassed. Her techniques are full of fun and knowledge. Mrs. Panyard is also great at encouraging you to be your best both on and off the stage.

    James Snyder
    Homeschool Graduate
    Alumni of Encore Homeschool Productions

  8. Miles Brouillette

    The way that Mrs. Panyard brings out character through games and exercises excites me. Most of what I know now I learned as a beginner from Mrs. Panyard, about the purpose of acting and the method of being authentic. We almost got that Hershey Theatre Apollo Award when I played Tevye, but that’s all to Mrs. Panyard’s credit because I couldn’t get there without her. I recommend Mrs. Panyard to anyone trying to grow as an actor on stage!

  9. Kyla Blazer

    I have known Jill Panyard as a personal and professional mentor for many years. I have had the privilege to have her as my teacher when I was younger where she pushed me to do my best and reach my full potential. She always makes the best out of every situation and ensures that all students take something away from every class. Getting to work along Jill as an assistant teacher has be an amazing experience. She allowed me to take my passion and help her teach others. Jill takes input and truly cares deeply for every student. Her deep passion for theatre education is inspiring. I know from having Jill as a mentor in my life has helped shape me into a better actor but even more importantly person.
    Kyla Blazer
    Hershey High School Graduate
    American University Student
    Former Hershey Area Playhouse Student for 10 years

  10. Katie Copeland

    Jill Panyard has helped me grow as an actor for many years! Her critique greatly improves my performance, and I’m constantly learning something new. Jill is extremely knowledgeable and experienced, and an incredible teacher! I would not be the performer I am today without her expertise.

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Instructor Bio

Jill Panyard

Jill Panyard has her hand in leadership, education, convention planning, and theater. She is the current head of the Theatre Academy for the Hershey Area Playhouse in Hershey, PA. Along with the teachers in the Academy, she helps to develop and teach programs for children ages 5 to 18, including themed sessions, summer camps, and junior musicals. She has also been involved with the award-winning Encore! Home School Productions  since 2004 in leadership and directing plays and musicals. She particularly enjoys coaching young actors in learning theater skills and developing their talents on stage. Jill is a native New Englander, making Pennsylvania her home since 1984. She has enjoyed theatre training through many avenues including her alma mater, Syracuse University. She, and her husband Jim, are empty-nesters, having had the privilege of raising and homeschooling two sons in Central PA.

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Instructor email: [email protected]

All classes taught by Jill Panyard

  • Acting 101: Character Development With Games and Exercises

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  • Acting 102: Character Development From Scripts

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