How To Be In Character
I am making this as a quick guide to help you with being character at our current and future events. This is important because when we are at events as our characters, to the children we are those characters. So, if we break character, act or do something that the character wouldn’t do, it is in essence telling those children that Santa doesn’t exist. We are a glimmer of hope and dreams for them, so staying in character just means that much more. Here we go!
1. Study Your Character:
Studying the characters and repeating things they say. This helps with when kids ask you some of those really hard questions. Here are some links that help you get into character.
We welcome all kinds of characters, but we do ask to try to have recognizable characters. OCs, Anime, fan versions of characters and other off shoot characters aren't as well known and kids will be weary of them. We have many events that request certain characters and if you have no recognizable characters you may be left out of an event because a parent or organization requested those characters. Save the OCs for SoDak Con, which is a great place to show them off!
This is generally lenient, but please try to stick to as accurate as you can with the costumes. The smallest things can make a kid question the magic. Costumes do not need to be made by your or vice versa bought, but they just need to look as accurate as you can.
Also, please wear a wig cap with all wigs. Natural hair sticking out of a wig will ruin the magic no matter how hard you tell a kid that you're that character. Please wear makeup as well, especially if you will be performing so that people can see your face and expressions. Guys, please wear Dance Cups if you are wearing spandex, because we don't need to see that. There will be classes offered to cover these basics throughout the year.
3. Prepare Stories:
Preparing stories beforehand, to help combat the hard questions by kids. “Elsa, where’s Anna?” “Spiderman, shoot you webs.” “Where is your mom Merida?” “How did you get here?” Questions like that will come a mile a minute, getting an idea of who your character is and how they would answer things like that will help.
4. Disney Tips:
This is straight from Disney, your character is in their realms, so they wouldn’t know things outside of their realms. Now, I’m not going to enforce this and be pretty lenient on it, but it might help if a kid asks a question about planes or cars. Depending on your character, they might not know those.
5. Don't Say I Don't Know:
If a kid talks about you and asks questions and you are unsure how to answer, never say I don’t know. Instead ask them questions like “What was your favorite part?” or “What did you think about that?” Their answers might give you just enough to play off and answer them.
Always let your Handler know the minute you need something or are having trouble. This will help prevent any breaking character moments and will keep you safe. Create a code with your handler in case you are having trouble. “Our treasured guest here is so sweet.” Meaning this person is giving me trouble can you please help?" ALSO! Please, please do not make the Handler the aggressor, meaning if a kid asks you to perform magic don't say, "Well, I can't, she/he will beat me up." Your handler is there to keep you safe, but if you make the kids fear them, it causes way more problems, especially in areas like WAVI.
7.Out of Character:
Please, keep all out of character things like cussing, off color topics and cellphones in the break area. This will help make a boundary for you that makes it easier to slip back into character when you leave the break area.
Do not under any circumstances break character even for those that you know and love, because it ruins the magic for everyone. In example, if you break character to say hi to a kid you know. The kids around you hear that and you have broken the magic for everyone.
8. Voice and Accents:
If you need to do a voice change or accent, use these tips from the best acting coaches. With voice changes and accents,hearing what you want to achieve over and over again will help you. Much like how someone learns a new language, by submersion. One of the biggest tips with accents is find your key phrase. It’s the phrase that the minute you attempt to use it with the accent want it will pull you into the accent.
Please do not make concrete promises with the kids. This is another one of those things about keeping the magic in their lives. Kids take promises very seriously and it’s not something you want to disappoint them with. Always accept what they are saying and encourage them in their thoughts and ideas but don’t agree to do something with them unless you are doing it at that very moment. In example, if we are seeing a terminally sick kid that has received their Wish, and they are talking to you about going to see you at Disney World, don’t say things like “When you get there…” Instead say things like, “That sounds wonderful or like a great plan.” It keeps it open and doesn’t give false hope.
10. Crossplaying! DO not under any circumstances crossplay, UNLESS you can pull off the gender of the character well. IE, no boobs for dudes, and no beards for chicks. Walk, talk and act the gender you are playing. Children are not forgiving in this instance and it will break the magic if you can't pull it off. Crossplaying is great at conventions and having fun, but we need these characters as believable as possible for kids.
11. Etiquette: (Thank you to the 501st guide)
Be Courteous to other characters, and those around you. Act as your character but do not go out of your way to belittle, poke or prod other characters. Doing so will put you on probation. Do not expect anything in return. Do not expect free food, parking or anything. It might happen, more then likely it won't. Always be aware of your surroundings. Remember to take breaks. If another character is more popular then your at an event, or even multiple events, do not get aggressive, whiny or put out about it. We do this for the kids, and for one kids, even if it's just one kid, seeing your character would mean the world to them.
12. How To Act Towards Physically, Mentally and Emotionally Disabled People
Treat them as you would anyone else in a friendly manner and with respect. Don't push, if they don't wish to interact with you give them their space and time. (This should be true of anyone you meet while in costume) Don't "react" to their disability. Get down on their level, if possible. Kneel, play "peek-a-boo" (Give them a peek under your lid/mask to show you're a person in there). If they wish to communicate with you then be patient, take your time. Be friendly and cheerful.
13. Visits to The Hospital
At the moment visits are sparse and specific with who they want. I will personally contact you if you have a character that a child has asked for. More reasons to keep the character index current. For the moment it will be a max of two characters per visit, and I will more then likely will be one of them. As our relationship with the hospital grows, these rules will and can change.