Lecture - The Objective - "Finding The Right Verb"

"Right...But What Do I Exactly Do?"


It is your job to make choices
about your character's objective.
It is your job to translate anything you are given by a director into something that is actable.

Remember: Only Verbs are actable!!!
"Finding the Action Verbs"
(taken from an article by Rena Brookes)

Actors talk about objectives in the verb form:
- "I want to embarrass her."
- "I want to comfort her." 
- "I want to torture her."
- "I want to tease her."

The more active the verb.. the more vital will be your acting!

Examples of STRONG verbs:

- "to lecture.."
- "to proclaim.." 
- "to announce.."
- "to demand.." 
- "to interrogate."

NOTE: Stronger verbs excite the imagination and give the actor specificity.. depth.. and a higher level of believability.

Examples of WEAK verbs: 
(choices that are hard to act) 

- "to explain.."
- "to tell.."
- "to ask."

NOTE: Weak verbs lead to generalized, stereotypical acting.


Example #1: If the director says "be louder"
Translate that into - "I want to force the other characters to hear me."

Example #2: A director may ask you, "Can you be more angry?" Anger is not actable. If you play anger your acting will be stereotypical, phony, generalized.
Translate that bit of direction into:  "I want to tear him apart" or "I want to scare her."

You will be giving the director what he or she wants, but also you will be keeping your acting verb clear, specific and believable.

How do you know if your objective choices are correct, actable, and strong?

There are several questions you can ask yourself when choosing an objective that will help you test the strength of your verb choices.

1. Can it be physically done? Such acting verbs as "to push," "to beg," "to defend" can readily be put into the body.

2. Is it rooted in the other person? Is it other-directed? "I Want to marry him" is other-directed; "I want to get married" is not. "I want her to notice me," not "I want to be noticed."

3. Does it trigger a sense of fun? Does it excite your imagination? Does the verb stimulate you to action? "I want to find the answer" does little to excite; it's not very much fun. "To interrogate," "to probe," "to dig" do much more to get the juices flowing.

4. Is it a quality or an attitude? "Angry," "shy," "moody," "motherly" are examples of some very dangerous words for the actor. An emotional quality or mental attitude may be present but it is death to try to play them. Translate such qualities or attitudes into strong, other-directed verb phrases.

5. Is it consistent with the playwright's intention? Does it fit with the verbs in the spine of the play, the overriding idea behind what the play is about and what the main conflicts are in each scene? 

6. What will signify success? How will you know if you have won or lost your objective? If your objective is "to win her love," how will you know when you have succeeded? (what verb will be the response?) Will she kiss you? Will she cry? Will she simply smile? You play your objective to win that specific thing, and specificity is the key here.



In making your choice for the super-objective, you will look in three places.
#1.) Consider the play as a whole.
#2.) Then each scene your character is in...
#3.) Finally, the smaller moments within each scene (the beats).

In each scene, a character tries different objectives
in order to attain his/her super objective.



A short introduction to:

THE SPINE -  the play's super objective (climb)- the central idea or theme. 

The main action and conflict of each moment and scene as a whole that add up to the main action for the whole play.

If you understand the SPINE of the play,
your character's super objective will be clear!



Don't let the fear of being wrong keep you from making choices.
Make them, try them, rehearse with them, change them if they don't fit.

Write a list of strong action verbs and keep it handy, so you can be vivid and varied in your choices. Then you're ready for rehearsal.


REVIEW for "Objective"

These guidelines for objectives apply to:
- Audition pieces
- Scene work
- Full productions.
It is your responsibility to come into rehearsal with choices made, ideas to try. Remain flexible to the needs of your partner and the director, and to discoveries you make in the moment. 

Your GOAL: to be a quality, consistent actor!
Then chose objectives and play them with commitment
It is the first step that must be taken
each time you walk on stage


· Objectives are the basic building blocks of the acting process. At all times during a performance, you must be going after what you want.

· Think and talk of objectives in terms of verbs. The more active, physical, and other- directed those verbs are, the better.

· There are three levels of objectives: the super objective, scene objectives, and tactics moment to moment.

· Memorize your objective choices just as you do lines of dialogue.

· Objectives live in the body. Get them out of your brain and into your body.

· Remain "other"-directed as you pursue your objective. Focus on your partner, observing the effect you are having on him or her.


Keep yourself open to those subtle changes that occur in the moment as you and your partner struggle
to get your character's needs met.


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