Intention/Objectives and Obstacles: An Actor’s Guide

INTENTIONS should ALWAYS be exciting ACTIVE VERBS/concepts for you to play.  “Acting” comes from “Active” and “Action”. 

INTENTION gives you a simple, clear understanding of what is pushing the character through the story and the scene, and therefore, what to “play”.  However, NEVER FORGET that people usually hide, “cover”, or at least, obscure what they want from other people, and sometimes even from themselves.  One of the most alluring, most seductive things someone can do is say “no”.  If a man wants to seduce the prettiest girl at the party, his best bet might be to pay no attention to her.  It is the opposite of what every other man is doing, and hence, separates him from the rest.  If a woman wants to seduce the best “catch” at the party, her best bet may be to refuse him when he asks her to dance, making him want her all the more.

Even when the ‘intention’ and the “behavior” in the scene are not in direct opposition, as an actor, there are many ways of “covering” your “intention”.   “Buttering someone up” is doing a lot of nice, sweet things for someone, so that when you ask them for what you really want, they are in the mood to say yes without deliberating too much.  What you have “going on” inside, what you are “playing” internally, and perhaps for the audience in “private moments”, may be quite different from what you are playing for the other character in the scene.

Any good discovery of what your INTENTION is should include finding the OBSTACLES which are stopping you from getting what you want.  Really understanding these two concepts will illuminate and define the character you are playing.  If you can’t find enough OBSTACLES in the script, create some.  Don’t ever eliminate obstacles.  Empower them.  Add to them.  “Obstacles” create conflict; conflict creates drama.

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Adam Lazarre-White Adam Lazarre-White grew up in NYC, graduated from Harvard University with Honors, started at QB for the “Crimson” and played in the Harvard Jazz Band. He is known for roles on Scandal, Heroes, Ocean’s 13, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, The Temptations, Living Single, The Parkers, and starring on The Young & The Restless. Adam’s writing and directing have become equal pursuit in recent years; and he has owned his acting school in Hollywood, ALW Acting Studios since 2000. For info on Adam's classes, acting, writing & directing visit his website at