Bizarre Biographies

playdates-hands-color-lgBizarre Biographies

Value of This Activity:

Helps us think about secondary characters in a story and how they impact the overall sense of the story. Helps to imagine “real lives” into the text, by creating backstories for characters. Raises questions about how the text impacts people with different life experiences. Gives us a different way to enter the story.

Group/Individual:

Individual. See Adaptation for a Group activity

Time:

15-20 minutes per text

Items Needed:

Bible. Pen and Paper.

How to Play . . .

  1. Select a secondary character from the text.
  2. Imagine an outrageous biography for that character: either glorious and brilliant (especially if the character is something of a villain), or delusional, self-serving, bitter, or funny — your pick.
  3. Choose one:
    • Create a resume for the character, where you itemize the brilliance/failures of the character.
    • Make a list of key events in the person’s life.
    • Write a short bio of the character. If you wish, you may use this Character Template.
  4. Now create a second biography for this same character, one that is wildly different from the first biography.
  5. Return to the text. What thoughts do you have about the text/story after imagining multiple, different biographies. What new questions do you have?

Adaptations:

  • As an Individual: Insert a completely new character into the story. Write that character’s biography, and then re-write the story, giving your character some action and/or dialogue.
  • In a Group:
    1. Each person in the group selects a character from the text and writes the characters name or basic identifying information at the top of a sheet of paper.
    2. After writing the character’s name on the sheet, write one sentence that begins a short bio for the character.
    3. Each person in the group passes her or his sheet to the person on their left. The next person adds a sentence to the bio they’ve just received.
    4. Pass to the left again. Everyone adds a sentence to the bio handed to them.
    5. Repeat the process five to ten times.
    6. After the final sentence is written, pass the sheet to the left again. Read aloud the bizarre biographies.
    7. Finally, discuss and imagine together how those bizarre biographies may change how the text is understood.

Try This!

  1. Play around with the book of Jonah. Write biographies of the King in Nineveh or of one of the sailors on the boat or, if you’re really into the storyline, write a biography of one of those cows who repents!
  2. Explore possible biographies for the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7:25-30. Perhaps she was a business woman, not unlike the woman of Proverbs 31? Or maybe an entertainer, like Herodias’ daughter (Salome) who danced for Herod (Matt.14:3-11). What other biographies for the Syrophoenician woman might you imagine. Pick a couple and go for it!
  3. Create two different backstories (biographies) for one of Jesus’ lesser-known disciples—for example, Thaddeus or Bartholomew.

Playdate Reference Material:

Character Template

Playing with Narratives

Everyone Is a Character


Related Playdates . . .


Creative Commons License
Playdates with Scriptures by Virginia Wiles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://playthinkact.com.