It sounds obvious, but it’s surprisingly easy to overlook: what the heck does your character want? What are his or her goals?
This is sometimes referred to the actor’s or character’s “objective” or “motivation”. It is the driving force that moves your character with purpose from beginning to end. Everything that you will do with the GREAT OPERA will reflect back to this backbone of the entire scene.
When you have access to the entire script you will be able to reveal the character’s over-arching goal for the story, and each scene will be a step in the direction of that larger goal. Your goal is something you will find either in the pre-life of the scene or somewhere near the beginning. It was what you specifically want or need from your scene partner, in terms of what you want them to do, feel, or understand.
Remember there is never a right answer in determining your goal. The important factor in identifying the goal is ensuring it aligns with the facts of the scene. This is something we will explore deeper in Chapter Fifteen.
An exercise to determine whether your goal works in a scene or not is to try and replace every line your character says with this goal.
E.g. “I want you to understand you can’t hurt me anymore.”
Use this line in place of each of your lines. Does the scene still make sense? If yes, you may have a winner. If not, keep looking for something that fits.
Keep your goals singular. Avoid things like “I want this, because I want that, so I can have this, because I want that…”
Keep it specific. Keep it simple, Your levels of simplicity and specificity will often be directly aligned with your levels of greatness.
Another extremely important aspect of determining the goal is to ask yourself “What does this cost me or what do I lose if I don’t achieve this goal?” We often throw around the phrase “life or death consequences” but this doesn’t have to mean literal life or death, but it does need to have great importance. The stories we tell are like real life with the boring bits cut out. It has to be important to you or it won’t be important to your audience, and this will show in your audition.
Don’t feel the need to find one goal. While you need to deliver your audition with one goal, you need to be prepared for a redirect. Exploring multiple options, even subtle ones, can enhance your overall understanding of the story and the role your character plays in it all!