How to find a type of character
April 15, 2012 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Looking for plays featuring particularly confident characters; any era will do. Specific recommendations/favourites would be great - tips on finding them myself also helpful.

I think it would probably help me in certain situations to be able to think of a confident character from a play; I used to act and I think it would be more useful to me than a book or a film character.
I'm not averse to doing my own research, I've tried, but the problem is that I don't know where to search. So searching tips (I've tried google, just brings up self-help stuff on building your character, or acting advice - not after these) would be helpful too.
What I'd really like, though, is for people to chip in with their personal favourites. Any style, any era, it's all interesting to me.
posted by danteGideon to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There was a Sherlock Holmes play.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:16 AM on April 15, 2012

Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen
posted by ocherdraco at 10:17 AM on April 15, 2012

The Women, by Clare Boothe Luce, shows its main character rediscovering her independence and confidence after a nasty public divorce.

Master Class, by Terrence McNally, depicts opera star Maria Callas giving a class to aspiring singers.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:21 AM on April 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Waiting for Lefty by Clifford Odets is an ensemble piece about a bunch of Depression-era workers finding the courage to go on strike.
posted by HeroZero at 10:21 AM on April 15, 2012

Falstaff (especially the one in Part I of King Henry IV) may be the archetype of such characters.
posted by bukvich at 10:48 AM on April 15, 2012

I feel like most Chekhov plays are filled with characters that are confident to the point of obliviousness. I mean, you know, the ones who don't kill themselves.
posted by Sara C. at 11:20 AM on April 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Shakespearean comedies can be quite good for this - especially the secondary characters, since you don't always get to see inside their heads so much, and don't see the fretting. So, in Love's Labour's Lost you get the men, and Berowne is extremely confident most of the time - but you also see him worrying about Rosaline. Whereas with Rosaline, you get less of her internal processes and just pure amazing confidence.

Likewise, in The Importance of Being Earnest, Algernon is largely unflappable and charming and confident, but does get a bit fretful about whether Cecily likes him - whereas Cecily and Gwendolyn are perhaps more confident throughout. (Likewise Aunt Augusta, but of course she's terrifying as well as confident.)

Various Noel Coward plays, like (as far as I recall) the entire Bliss family in Hay Fever.

Various Tom Stoppard, like Hapgood in Hapgood, and Bernard (and perhaps Hannah?) in Arcadia. They're all great characters, and unlike my other suggestions so far, they're not extremely rich (which presumably helps with confidence and is thus a bit of a cheat).

I haven't read Ben Hecht's The Front Page, which His Girl Friday was based on, but the play's equivalent of the Cary Grant character is surely extremely confident.

These are all very wordy comedies - maybe partly because I really like very wordy comedies, but it seems possible that comedies are more likely to have unremittingly confident characters, and that characters who talk a lot and enjoy their facility with language are more likely to come across as confident on a quick reading; so that might suggest future directions for research?

And finally - it's not a play, but I really, really recommend Mrs Peel (and Steed, to a lesser extent) in the 1960s TV series The Avengers. Mrs Peel gets kidnapped regularly, chased by robots, has to pretend to be all sorts of unlikely things (a nurse! A fencing instructor!) on a moment's notice, sneaks around corridors, does science and sculpture when she's not having adventures, and does it all with absolute calm unruffledness and not a moment's doubt in her ability to cope. Pretending to be Mrs Peel was my go-to technique for feigning confidence for years.
posted by severalbees at 4:16 PM on April 15, 2012

I don't know if it's of any use, but I found a copy of the Sherlock Holmes play online. It seems to be in the public domain now.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:50 PM on April 16, 2012

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