Acting Magazine Articles




 Understanding the Actor’s Objective

   (by: Bill Howey, Excerpts from his book, ("The Actor's Menu")


Most actors know what an objective is. It is what one character wants from another character. For example, “I want her to like me.” “I want him to kiss me.” To me, however, the commonly understood definition is not complete. The word “objective” in fact has become a fuzzy word for many actors because of an incomplete definition.

In my workshops I see actors not making the objective strong and personal enough to be really effective.

 This is because many actors fail to define their objective as an ardent, fiery, burning, passionate desire to achieve a particular end.

The missing question is” What is really wanted? Further, why does someone want the stated objective? The answer to both is: Because attaining the objective will do something for the person. For example, an actor wants to get a role because landing that role will satisfy something personal for the actor; it may give him or her a feeling of pride, validation, or even money.

Therefore, the conclusion to a completely worded objective is: Receiving the personal rewards that come after reaching the goal. Those rewards are personal because they satisfy the need that made the personal goal after the objective in the first place.

In the above example, if he kissers her, she will feel that she is desirable. That is the reward that motivates going after the objective because it is personal. People do things to be happy, satisfy a need or to comply with a hidden agenda.


So What Will a Strong Objective Do For You? 

The objective controls the character’s reasons for behaving as they do. It is the force behind their behavior; similar to the way that objective is the force behind a character’s actions and behaviors. There is no more motivating force than going after something that will have a personal effect on a person.

What actors often don’t grasp is that an objective must be an unambiguous personal desire. Many people desire love. Others want fame and fortune. Whatever the desire, the basic goal is to achieve pleasure.

We all do things in order to feel good. As an actor starting out, knowing little, having fun, exploring, you go after acting without much hesitation. You are very much an artist because you criticize yourself very little. As you gain experience, you become more of a critic. You pull back your creative energies and become less and less the adventuresome actor. This is caused by loosing the specific, personal objective that gave you the early, wide-eyed, “I can do this,” adventurous approach. This loss can be regained by restating a strong objective.

In your acting, characters that desperately want something actively pursue that objective by doing whatever it takes to attain the goal. This active pursuit results in emotions, attitudes and behaviors. What wording an objective, you must include the propelling action of accomplishing and attempting to accomplish a need, because an objective is not just a dim thought.

A strong objective, one that fees personal satisfaction is one weapon you can use to fight artistic decomposition. Realizing the sensation or satisfaction or attaining the objective can keep you out of the


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