OBJECTIVES EXPLAINED LIKE NEVER BEFORE

"ACTION OBJECTIVES" vs "REACTION OBJECTIVES" - HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT OBJECTIVE TO FINALLY GET WHAT YOU WANT.

The first thing we must do is define the term "Objective" as it relates to the craft of acting. An Objective in it's simplest definition, is what your character wants. It's the goal they are fighting for. It's the thing that they must reach after moving past any obstacles in the way. It's the strong desire that is the core focus of all your character does/wants/needs. It's the primary target of all your efforts. It's the thing that if you don't get, your world ends and if you do get it, you're fulfilled.


Knowing your objectives is essential for the actor because without a clear understanding of that which you desire and that which impels you to take action, you simply wander aimlessly and that is truly uninspiring for the audience. Now that we've established a common understanding of what the term Objective means, it's important to explore the nuances of Action Objectives and Reaction Objectives so that you can carefully craft your character's journey through the imaginary circumstances of the script.

I know that this all may seem a bit pragmatic and academic, but the power within the understanding of the subtle differences between Action Objectives and Reaction Objectives is the key to solving some of the basic struggles actors face when they are simply not connecting with the material or with the other actor in a way that helps truthfully tell the story.

For example, let's say you are at an audition or a rehearsal and the Casting Director or Director says,

"I don't believe that you really know what you want from the other person and you are having no effect on the other person and the result is that I don't believe your relationship with the other person."


Well, what does an actor do to overcome these concerns and create clarity in what you are fighting for and drive the response from the other person so the relationship becomes clear? Obviously, there are many options presented in the TOOLBOX to accomplish all of these, but in this blog post, I'm sharing with you one specific approach through the use of carefully selected ACTION Objectives and a REACTION Objectives. Let's explore them now.

ACTION OBJECTIVES

Action Objectives are uni-directional (1-way). They are 1-way forces of energy and intention that radiate out from you directly to the other person/people/universe regardless of whether or not the other person participates, complies, responds, reacts or cooperates. It's a driving force that is NOT dependent on the other person's participation or involvement. In this manner, how they react and respond to you is not the primary focus. Action Objectives deliver a crystal clear point of view that helps the audience understand exactly what you want to communicate. However, they do not necessarily guarantee that the audience will get a sense of how the other person is effected by what you are doing or communicating. They learn about you, not the relationship. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It may be exactly what is needed in the moment to tell the story that is intended to be told. It's just one version of objectives that have a specific purpose and a specific outcome.

REACTION OBJECTIVES

Reaction Objectives are bi-directional. They are 2-way flow of energy. Reaction Objectives forces the involvement and participation of the other person regardless of whether they wish to participate or not. Reaction Objectives naturally create the opportunity for the response from the other person and deliver a crystal clear point of view from the sender and an equally crystal clear reaction from the receiver which helps the audience understand exactly what is happening between the two people. Again, this is not "better" than the Action Objective, it's just different and should be used to reach a specific outcome that the Action Objective inherently can not produce.

HOW DO I KNOW WHEN TO USE WHICH TYPE OF OBJECTIVE

The differences are subtle in concept, but powerful in result and the careful use of one or the other can help create inspired moments on stage or on camera. There's a time and place for both and to help you determine when to use which objective you can ask yourself this simple question:

Do you need the other person to take action, react or be involved with you in some way in order for you achieve your objective?

1. If NO, then you should first explore using Action Objectives.

2. If YES, then you should first explore using Reaction Objectives.

Let's explore a few examples so this all becomes crystal clear to you.

ACTION OBJECTIVE: To Confront

REACTION OBJECTIVE: To Intimidate

With the Action Objective of To Confront, I can approach the other person and confront them, but it does not necessarily require or stimulate any reaction or involvement from them. I can confront and they can be unaffected by my confrontation. However, with the Reaction Objective of To Intimidate, the other person becomes an active participant in the interaction. I cannot intimidate someone that is unaffected by my intimidation. If they don't respond or react, then really all I am doing is Confronting them, but when they react and are affected by behavior, I am Intimidating them. So, if I simply need to demonstrate my dominance regardless of if they respond or not, I would use the Action Objective of To Confront, but if the director needs the receiver to be effected by my behavior, I must use the Reaction Objective of To Intimidate because that triggers their involvement. This is because when you use a Reaction Objective, you are actively working to stimulate a response in the other person and you are actively observing their behavior, looking for signs that you've successfully stimulated in them that which you desire, which is a result of a well chosen Reaction Objective.

ACTION OBJECTIVE: To Share

REACTION OBJECTIVE: To Confide

I wonder if after reading the example above with To Confront and To Intimidate if you're brain is already starting to formulate the difference between the Action Objective of To Share and the Reaction Objective To Confide. Let's see if you're thinking what I'm thinking. If you use the Action Objective To Share, it is once again, uni-directional (1-way), from you to the other person. You are telling them something. Yes, sharing feels a bit more intimate in terms of the subject matter. You share something personal or confidential, whereas when you tell, it feels more like a straight forward transfer of information, perhaps void of emotionality. But again, it's going only 1 way. You sharing something with the other person and they have no obligation in this transaction to really be involved or effected. However, if you shift your objective from To Share over to To Confide, all of a sudden, you create a contract between both parties and both must be involved. When you confide in another person, they receive the information and agree to the terms of the confidentiality (at least for the moment - they could, perhaps, break that confidentiality, thus creating the wonderful dramatic circumstances later in the script). When you confide, it's bi-directional (2-way). You confide in them and impart unto them your private information and they agree to hold your information with trust and confidentiality. Suddenly, they are now invested in this give and take.

So, if you get a note from the Director that indicates there seems to be no relationship, no history between the two of you, then a simple shifting of the action from the Action Objective To Share over to the Reaction Objective To Confide could be the missing link to establishing that missing bond. Again, just like I wrote above, this is because when you use a Reaction Objective, you are actively working to stimulate a response in the other person and you are actively observing their behavior, looking for signs that you've successfully stimulated in them the response which you desire, which is a result of a well chosen Reaction Objective.

Is this starting to make sense to you? Can you see how a simple shift to a word-relative could make all the difference?


What would you say is the difference between To Lie and To Fabricate versus To Deceive or To Con? Again, the first two (To Lie and To Fabricate) are the uni-directional (1-way) Action Objectives that are closely related to the bi-directional (2-way) Reaction Objectives of To Deceive or To Con. You can lie and fabricate a story and it's simply a telling of an untruth, but if you deceive or con someone, they are actively involved in the process, falling victim to your lies. They become effected because they believe your words and align their relationship to you based on their belief. Again, one is not better than the other. They both serve very specific purposes. It's your job to determine when to use which objective, the Action Objective or the Reaction Objective. And again, as mentioned above, an easy way to determine which one to use is to ask this simple question (I'm repeating again here now that you have a deeper understanding of the concept)


Do you need the other person to take action, react or be involved with you in some way in order for you achieve your objective?

If NO, then you should first explore using Action Objectives.

If YES, then you should first explore using Reaction Objectives.

Think about these Objectives - what would you label them as?

  • To Love: Is this an Action Objective or a Reaction Objective and why?

  • To Arouse: Is this an Action Objective or a Reaction Objective and why?

  • To Avoid: Is this an Action Objective or a Reaction Objective and why?

  • To Repel: Is this an Action Objective or a Reaction Objective and why?

  • To Capture: Is this an Action Objective or a Reaction Objective and why?

  • To Lure: Is this an Action Objective or a Reaction Objective and why?

  • To Support: Is this an Action Objective or a Reaction Objective and why?

  • To Inspire: Is this an Action Objective or a Reaction Objective and why?

  • To Console: Is this an Action Objective or a Reaction Objective and why?

  • To Comfort: Is this an Action Objective or a Reaction Objective and why?

  • To Condescend: Is this an Action Objective or a Reaction Objective and why?

  • To Intimidate: Is this an Action Objective or a Reaction Objective and why?

I hope you will post some comments on this blog with your thoughts.

Now that you have an understanding of the differences between an Action Objective and a Reaction Objective, you are empowered to make truly smart and effective choices when approaching the text. My suggestion is to try the pairs in the same rehearsal to gain true body/mind/emotion/sense awareness and understanding of just how powerful the subtle difference are and how truly different experiences can be created through the use of both.


I you liked this blog post, please check out my other blog posts here.

I hope this post has inspired you in some small way. I look forward to reading your comments.

Bye for now,

See you inside the Toolbox.

Email: actorsapproachtoolbox@gmail.com

Website: http://www.actorsapproach.com

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/actorsapproachcrafttoolbox

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