The Objective is one of the most important power tools for an actor because it provides a starting point in the analyzing stage of any scene.
So what is the actual definition of “the objective”?
Every character is attempting to “get” something in every script and play. It may be love, a job, recognition, money, respect, sex, attention; this list can go on and on. However, it is important for the actor to figure out and articulate what the character you will be portraying wants and/or needs, and what is worth fighting for.
The objective supports the dynamics in any and all scenes, be it drama or comedy. If no one wants anything or needs anything in a scene, if nothing is at stake, the acting becomes uninteresting to watch. All drama and comedy is based on conflict.
“We are captivated by a struggle. We are captivated when watching a game that has two strong opponents.” – Acting with Impact
Think of a boxing match. If neither fighter wants to win the match it would be a silly and uneventful spar. But if both of their objectives were to let the other guy win, that would be an objective. And if they really played with that intention, because it is unexpected in a normal boxing match, the audience might even find it funny because they are taking great risks to lose instead of win. However, if they enter the rink with no need to win or lose, nothing at stake in fighting, no sense of competition, eventually the onlookers will lose interest in the fight.
Life is about going after a goal—a want, a need, something worth fighting for… some people want a family, others a career, and some both. Some are fighting for better health, some for a better day job. We all want, and because of our want, we feel emotion. When we feel we are winning in life, we feel happier than when we feel we are losing in life our objective. Interestingly, the Objective gives us many life lessons on how we experience our journey.
If we don’t have an objective in life, we may feel lost and without direction. This is also true in acting. If you discover that you feel a bit lost or without direction in a scene or cold reading, discover the character’s objective you are playing and play their objective with all of your heart. This will give your acting a point of reference of the character you are playing and support your commitment to live into their world.
Here are some fun exercises that will serve your ability to utilize the objective:
Watch a film, play or TV show with attention on what the main characters want. Ask yourself “what do they want?” Try to articulate their objectives in terms that allow you to visualize what it might look like if they did receive and win their objectives. And take note of their emotional life and notice how they feel by whether or not they are getting closer to what they want.
Also, take a moment to look into your own life to decide what you want and what you are willing to fight for, what’s at stake for you in your life. Perhaps you are looking for a breakthrough in your acting skill, or a chance to audition for a certain casting director, or you may want to book a job with a specific director, or you may have a love interest. Take note of your desire, your actions, and the risks you take to get it. Now, knowing that every character cares as much about their objective as you do about your own, play the character’s scene objective with that much commitment. Be compassionate to the hunger that lives in any character to get what they desire.
Your acting will always be enriched when you effectively take the risks that surrender your own desire to be great, and instead play the character’s desire to win their goal. One can never watch themselves in the work when playing the character’s objective with true intention.
Be strong, believe and live authentically,
For a more complete lesson on the objective, please check out my book, Acting with Impact: Power Tools to Ignite the Actor’s Performance.
Script Analysis has so many important advantages for you as an actor. It’s crucial to have a grasp on your character’s internal life, as that will give you an edge in what choices you will be making for an original performance.
Understanding how to analyze a script, also known as, breaking down a script, applies to every aspect of acting, from auditioning to performance—from a small role, to a role that carries the entire film or TV series. Every time you invest in an intimate study of your character, you become prepared to deliver something exciting and special. You also learn about yourself and your own perceptions in the process, and in addition, you expand your understanding of others.
The job of analyzing the script plays an important role for each and every person that has a creative decision on your set or stage; from costumes to set design—and especially for the director, who will be breaking down and analyzing your character as well. The director will have ideas that he or she will be sharing, and you will need to add those adjustments to your performance. You will want to understand the director’s input by doing your own preparation so your collaboration together is easy.
Every time you pick up a script, your approach will often change as the demands of every script differs and requires different ways of examining them. The biggest distinction is the difference between a comedy script verses a dramatic script.
Instincts and Your Preparation
When you invest time in an intimate study of a character, you calibrate your own instincts to the character’s instincts. You begin to think “in character” and you begin to have a new perspective that is a little different than your own—and sometimes very different than your own. This gives your performance nuances and specifics that feed into your creative energy in performance. This is when acting is captivating—when the actor lets go and adopts the character’s behavior, history and humanity.
Understanding the character allows you to make choices based on their motivation. The motivation is always found in the script—it’s right in there for you to discover. Sometimes it’s buried and you have to excavate it, other times it’s more obvious. The motivation delivers the driving force of your character.
Playing the Love
Characters can be similar to the interest we have in a close friend. Think of the people you know and love. When you love someone, you’ve invested time with them… you have gotten to know them. You understand the things that are similar and the things that are different from you. When you care about a character, you “play the love” of knowing them. You also play the parts that are different than you because you have taken the time to understand them.
When you feel judged or disapproved of by a friend, the friendship often suffers. You might not feel like they understand you. You might not want to spend a lot of time with them, and most likely, they won’t either. It’s the same with a character—when we judge them, we shut down our willingness to empathize with them. It’s so important to understand why a character behaves the way they do without judging them. It’s so important to understand the character you will be playing—they must make sense to you—their behavior must add up and it is your job to discover how it does.
Flexibility and Taking Direction
When you’re given direction, you’ll want to make the adjustments to change and adapt a choice for the requested result. To release attachment to what is the “right” way to say a line, you must release what we call “line readings.” A line reading is a rote way to say the line in which the actor becomes married to the speech pattern and inflection, and can’t let go of it. So you will want to be flexible by keeping the lines alive and always seeking different ways of delivering a line by exploring the subtext. Keeping the lines fresh liberates you so you can respond in the give and take of your scene partner.
Saying Your Lines Differently
Go ahead and try it. Take a line of dialogue and say it 4 or 5 different ways. See what you discover. Did the subtext change at all? You’ll know you achieved a new or more interesting reading when the subtext becomes reawakened by a new delivery of your lines. This opens the door to flexibility.
The exercise of saying your lines in different and unexpected ways is important also in discovering what lives under the surface of the words. I love to hear actors in class or on set, while working on their script, discover new meanings through playing with the words out loud.
Sometimes the director or producer will ask for a specific line delivery. You will want to be able to let go of your way of executing it and deliver the line of dialogue the way they requested it. Though an actor may dislike this kind of request, it can happen. Each actor is one part of the whole of a project. Part of being a team player is the willingness to give the production what ever they request without judging it. Often the director will ask for a specific result in the acting; know that this is part of the natural exchange between director and actor. What is important is to do your dialogue in such a way that it feels organic and natural. That’s your challenge.
What is also important is to do your homework, which involves script analysis and the discovery of understanding your character.
For more tools on script analysis, owning your character and playing the love, check out my book, Acting with Impact, available at Samuel French Bookstore in Hollywood, at Amazon.comand at my website at kimberlyjentzen.com
For the video on this article, please go to http://www.mastertalentteachers.com/category/actors/