To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
    To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
    To reach out for another is to risk involvement.
    To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
    To place your ideas, your dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
    To love is to risk not being loved in return.
    To live is to risk dying.
    To hope is to risk despair.
    To try is to risk failure.
    But risks must be Taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
    The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing and is nothing.
    They may avoid suffering and sorrow but they cannot learn, feet, change, grow, love, live.
    Chained by their certitudes they are a slave, they have forfeited their freedom.
    Only a person who risks is free.


    What do you Want? Need? What are you FIGHTING for?

    Choose the Strongest Possible Objective.


    Because it adds the energy and urgency that is needed to make the work interesting. Acting is an art ... it is drawn from life, but not every aspect of life is useful for art. In the 1960's, Andy Warhol did a film of a man sleeping for eight hours!!! Yes, this is a slice of life ... but do we really need such a big slice?

    Playwrights write about the most powerful, impactful, conflicted days in a person's ENTIRE life. They write about those few days or weeks or even moments when events come to a head. They don't write about those comfortable moments when we are just sitting around on our sofa watching TV. They write about those times when there is conflict and urgency.

    When an actor tells me they don't feel comfortable in a scene, I often tell them to trust their instincts. It isn't about their comfort. They are not supposed to be comfortable because they, as the character, are not in a comfortable situation.

    Most of us spend our everyday lives avoiding confrontation, yet this is what every scene is about ... confrontation. Our jobs as actors is to find ONE GOOD REASON why we would fight for what we want at this moment. One good reason why we would say this and do this here and now.

    We can all usually find a hundred reasons why we WOULDN'T do it ... WOULDN'T pursue this objective ... WOULDN'T say this. But our job is to find one good reason why we WOULD. We must keep the action of the play or film moving forward by having a purpose for being there and actively going after it here and now on our feet at every rehearsal. There can be no time to rest up there.

    Yes, take the time necessary to fulfill a moment before moving on to the next, but do move on to the next. Ride the energy of give and take between you and your partner and use that energy to actively go for what you want while dealing with the obstacles in the way. You cannot rest up there ... you are not the audience ... you are not in a comfortable situation. You must employ active listening and incorporate anything that happens to make it part of the human painting that is forming before our eyes in the theatre. An interesting actor has active, focused energy. Force.


    The best objectives are ones you cannot achieve, but you go after them anyway. You must try to change the play/scene.

    If you are playing the role of a person who is found guilty of murder by a jury at 10:30 every night, you must still try to convince everyone that you didn't do it from 8 to 10:32 EVERY NIGHT, in spite of the fact that it always ends the same. You must go after that impossible objective and try to change the play.

    The same problem comes up in the opposite situation. Just because you already read the play and know you are found innocent doesn't mean you don't have to work like hell to prove your innocence. If we only get there because the words in the script say so, and the behavior hasn't lead to this, there is no ride to take. The audience might as well get a copy of the script at the door and sit down and read it for two hours. We need to sense the doubt, the moments when the struggle is overwhelming and experience the payoff at the end. If YOU don't go on this trip, No one can travel WITH you.

    You must phrase the objective positively.

    What DO you want, not what you DON'T want. You can't fight for a negative.

    If you go into a restaurant and tell the waiter "I don't want a tuna fish sandwich," he cannot serve you. You must decide what you DO want before any action can be taken. Make strong positive choices. Personal Ones. Imagine what you want, and make it concise and personal so it hits a chord for you. You may be in the ballpark on the objective choice, but unless it hits a chord in you, it is useless for you.

    How you phrase it is very personal and can take time to find. Experiment and explore options for yourself. Don't settle too quickly on the first thing that comes to your mind or steal someone else's way of putting it unless it really hits a nerve for you, too. I have a friend who admits that when she wants me to apologize, what she really wants is to get me to crawl on my hands and knees and kiss her Shoes!" Now that is a strong personal image for the phrase -- to get an apology. You must get OUT of the habit of saying "I just kinda sorta want to ... " You either want it or you don't. It is that simple. Go for it or don't. But make a choice that demands commitment.

    Let's end this where we began ... make the strongest possible choice.

    • Respect For Acting
      Uta Hagen
    • A Challenge For The Actor
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    • My Life In Art
    • An Actor Prepares
    • Creating A Role
    • Building A Character
    • An Actor's Handbook
    • Acting: The First Six Lessons
    • Truth
      Susan Batson
    • Strasberg's Method
      Loraine Hull
    • A Dream Of Passion
      Lee Strasberg
    • The Art Of Acting
      Stella Adler
    • Sanford Meisner: On Acting
    • Acting In Film
      Michael Caine
    • Improvisation For The Theater
      Viola Spolin
    • The Fervent Years
      Harold Clurman
    • A Life
      Elia Kazan
    • A Method To Their Madness
      Foster Hirsch
    • THe Ultimate Scene And Monologue Sourcebook
      Ed Hooks
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