Kids love portraying characters that have individual names and some sort of back stories. Who wouldn't? There is nothing very exciting about being Guard #6 or Servant #3 or Dancer #5. It is much more satisfying to portray a character with a name and a reason for being - at least for part of the time. I try very diligently to give each child a named character for their feature role and then have them fill additional Ensemble parts. This plan does not always work, but I continue to try, nonetheless. Why write for a just a generic Troupe of Gypsy entertainers, when you could create Barim who plays the guitar, Mona and Nadia who dance, Jamileh who tells fortunes, Ghalandar who does magic tricks, and Najid who has a trained dancing Bear named Bobak. I will give the children a little information concerning their characters and hope that feeds their interest to go on a fill out more of the backstory for themselves.
Where this story (in the translation I found) follows just a few main characters, a Children's Theater piece needs to be expanded to tell the story through dialogue and action and songs and dances involving many characters. That gives me the opportunity to create and name many new and unique characters. I love stories that come from exotic historical settings. There is such a richness in the cultures and languages of these places. And there is no richer or more colorful setting than that of Ancient Persia. The more I do research into ancient customs and architecture and designs and musical styles, the more exciting it becomes. And, for me, it is just plain fun to go through the lists of Ancient Persian names and their meanings to decide what fits each new character. That's when those characters become real to me. They suddenly get a life force of their own and I get inspired by the energy of their emerging personalities.
Naming characters in a new play can be very exciting. You never know exactly how the characters will develop and shape the story or just how they will drive the plot along. Four scenes and three songs into this project and the ride is becoming very interesting! Wish me luck!