Acting Tips – Building Your Character Around Obstacles

by on December 18th, 2010
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Whether you’re working in a stage production, film or television show your character is driven throughout the story through obstacles. Obstacles are known to be the foundation every great story is built atop of. Typically, a story focuses on the obstacles of a primary character; however, the obstacles can vary from one character to a multitude of characters.

When you’re preparing for a role, you must understand how to build your character around the obstacles that he will encounter throughout the story.

What are Obstacles?

Obstacles are defined as the primary foundation that every great comedy and drama is built off of. The majority of scripts focus on a single character and his journey to tackle his obstacle. Think about it, every film or stage play focuses on a character’s ability to tackle his primary objectives.

It is with the objective that the actual actions of the script begin to unfold. Within every scene you’re involved in you are tackling at least one of the objectives your character is facing. In order to portray a convincing character you must fully understand these objectives and the actions that you must take in order to concur these objectives.

Using Obstacles to Drive Your Character

Let’s say that your character is involved in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship. The primary objective within the script is to set yourself free from this relationship while doing so in such a way that won’t get you hurt, or worse, killed.

While this is your primary objective, you must face various obstacles in order to achieve this goal. One of the primary obstacles may be that you still “love” him, even though he beats and emotionally torments you. Another obstacle is learning how to live your life without his financial assistance, or perhaps “your” religion doesn’t believe or allow divorce.

All of these obstacles must be addressed and overcome in order to reach your primary objective. When facing an obstacle, you must engage in your character in such a way that you are moving forward to reach your primary objective.

When facing emotionally charged obstacles within a scene, think how “you” (as in your character) would approach the situation. What are the underlying emotions? What can “you” do to help reach your goals? What is holding you back? What are you afraid of? What?

As your character progresses throughout the story, you must learn how to convey the emotional context of each scene based on its obstacles.


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