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Tactics – The ways and the means for achieving your objective


Most acting coaches teach about analyzing your script and breaking it up into sections. I like to divide each scene into “tactics”. These are the ways your character attempts to achieve his or her “objective” in the scene.

Your objective is what your character desires to achieve with the other character(s) in the scene. It is a single intention that lasts throughout the entire scene, from beginning to end (unless an event occurs to alter it, like a fire breaking out in the middle of a marriage proposal). The aim is to change the other character from point A to point B. The other character is resisting the change in some way or has the opposite opinion. This is what propels your character through the scene. And the test of whether he achieves his goal is always in the other character. Remember, the scene is never about you. It is about the other person and whether or not you succeed with him or her. When deciding on your objective, it shouldn’t be too easy and it should be something interesting to attempt…something with a definite success or failure by the end of the scene.

So your character is on a singular mission to influence someone else. That does not fluctuate. What does change, (and needs to change to make an interesting performance) is the different ways he attempts to make this happen. He/she tries different tactics to get the other character to shift their position.

Think back to when you were a child and you were trying to convince your parent to take you somewhere fun…like an amusement park. You might start out by saying, sweetly, “Mom…I cleaned up my room and I finished all my homework for the weekend…and I did get an A on that history test. Could we go to Disneyland?” We might call that the “I’ve been good” tactic. But even though Mom is impressed with all your good deeds, she says this isn’t a good time for her to go to “The happiest place on earth”.

You have failed so far. You need to try something different. Her “no” is what triggers a transition to a new tactic. So you say, “But Mom, all my friends are going tomorrow. I’ll be the only one who isn’t there!”. Now you are employing guilt to get what you want. We might call this the “poor me” tactic. Still, Mom does not comply. Once again her “no” triggers a change. Time to try something new.

So you plop yourself down on the couch and cross your arms as you stick out your lower lip and say, “Forget it! You never understand.” This could be called the “pouting” tactic. This definitely does not convince your mother, but it was worth a try. To your chagrin, she says no.

This sends you into a desperate flurry. Tears well up in your eyes as your face turns red and you scream, “Just leave me alone! You’re the worst mother ever!” You run to your room and slam the door. This we will call the “angry” tactic. Perhaps not the best move, but what you were hoping for is that she would follow you into your room and say, “I’m sorry honey. I can see this is important to you. Of course you can go.” If she had agreed at anytime during the scene, you would not have needed to try the other tactics. It was her refusal to be affected by the chosen strategy that made you try a new one.

In fact if she had shown any sign that one of the tactics was working you wouldn’t have changed it. You would have played it for all it was worth. It is always the other character that causes you to either continue or alter your strategy. The test is in the other person.

But there is nothing more boring than playing one tactic throughout an entire scene. When choosing a monologue or scene for audition purposes, you want to look for one that has many opportunities for different tactics. I see actors scream with anger throughout an entire audition, thinking they are being very dramatic. They are just being unimaginative and dull. Read your script carefully and look for the tactics and when they change. If it is well written, they will be easy to find.

A tactic can last a whole paragraph or you could have several tactics in one sentence. But you want to be aware of the changes and be able to allow the other character’s reaction to you to trigger them. Look back and see how different each of the above tactics are. Think of how different you could make them. Each tactic allows you to travel to a whole new realm of your character’s personality. This is what makes for an interesting performance…both for you and your audience. One challenging objective with many different tactics = one fantastic scene

Winnie Hiller

Objective! – What is the scene about?


Today I want to talk about how to hone in on the strongest, most interesting objective for your character to pursue in your scene.

You need to read the sides or script that you have very thoroughly to figure out what exactly is going on. You want to do something to someone in order to try to get them to do something. What you are saying in the dialogue is your ammunition for getting what you want…your OBJECTIVE.

As you read through your lines, try to ask yourself “Why am I saying this right now to this person?” Every single thing you say must fit into that one purpose…something you want from the other person. It can’t just be some of your lines…it must be all of them. You want one thing. You want to change the other person in some way.

Try to find the best way to describe that desire. Once you have a very clear intention, you will know how to say those lines…the way your character thinks will be most convincing with the other person. You will try different tactics for getting what you want. But there is only one desired goal. Your objective.

But what might be even more important in deciphering exactly what that is, is what the other character is saying. They are giving you your opposition. What is often missing from a scene when it lacks excitement and energy is a difference of opinion. When two people agree, there is no reason for them to talk at any length. It is when they disagree that a real conversation begins. Each character wants the other to come over to their side. They are coming from different perspectives. They want different things.

So if you look at the other character’s lines and they trigger you into dialogue, you can be fairly sure they are giving you less than (or the opposite of)what you want from them. This should give you some good insight into what it is you do want from them.

For example…They want you to accept a non-committal and casual relationship – you want them to commit to a serious one . They want to get you to feel sorry for them – you want them to buck up and take responsibility. They want you to be more kinky – you want safe and “normal”. Their lines trigger your lines. It is a sparring match. That’s what keeps the scene moving. You each will use various tactics to get the other to do what you want. You hit…block…duck…counter…recover…try again.

It is your job to make the scene important. Without opposition there is no scene. If there doesn’t appear to be any conflict, it must be hidden in the subtext. Read between the lines. Imagine what history has culminated in this moment. Find the point of dissension and discern how your character will deal with it.

Eventually during the scene, one character will be pulled to the other side or the two will go their separate ways. Or perhaps a seed is planted for future scenes. The test of your success in achieving your objective will always be in the other person. You must constantly be aware of how you are doing and when you should change tactics…and finally if you should give in.

It is often such a temptation to make a scene all about you…to show your inner conflict and the reasons you need what you need. But this always produces a self-indulgent and boring performance because you will be acting alone. For you, the focus of the scene should always be on the other person. It’s all about convincing them, changing them, testing them, provoking them, reacting to them and responding to them, It’s never about you. It’s all about them.

Repeat after me, “IT’S ALL ABOUT THEM!”

Winnie Hiller

Monologues? There’s no such thing!


I just received a couple questions about monologues today in private messages, so I thought I should share about this interesting form of acting. Monologues can be an important tool for auditioning. They show up embedded in various lengths within every kind of script. But in reality they really don’t exist.

You may think that a monologue is just one person talking. In fact, there is no such thing as a monologue. It is always a dialogue. You are speaking to someone for a reason. You are having a conversation. They have the opposite opinion of you. You want them to change their mind. Otherwise you wouldn’t be talking so much.

But even when they are not speaking, they are giving you feedback. You never memorize speeches to give to people in real life (I hope). You speak to someone in reaction to something that has happened or has been said. You reply. You will then see a response in their face and body language. They nod or shake their head. You can almost guess what they are about to say and you respond before they do. Then, before they have a chance to say what you know they are going to say next, you have another reply. You may be dominating the conversation, but it is, nevertheless, a conversation.

The other person is making you say what you are saying. When you see that a certain tactic isn’t working on them, you change to another one. The other person causes it all. The scene is really not about you. It’s about trying to get them to change.

So monologue acting is just like acting anything else, with this big difference. You actually need to create two characters…the one you are playing and the one you are imagining is reacting to you…who you are, in turn, responding back to. Acting is always a tennis game. You are volleying back and forth your attempts to score with the person you are speaking to.

In fact, there are no statements in acting…EVER. At least there shouldn’t be. You should always be responding. Acting is reacting. Statements isolate you from the action of the scene. If your monologue lacks life…passion…involvement…it is probably because you are acting alone and that is never interesting. You must never be stating your case. You must be persuading another person as they are opposing you.

Even if you are doing a soliloquy, alone on stage, you must also create another person to speak to. It is often another part of yourself, or God or an imaginary friend. Occasionally you will change points of view with them…going back and forth between perspectives, playing devils advocate in a discussion. But there is alway an argument…a focus for your intent.

When you are preparing a monologue, always imagine the conversation leading up to your first line. Then continue to imagine it as a conversation. If the other person was speaking, what would they be saying? You can tell by what you answer in the next line. All of your lines are answers. ALL of them.

When I see videos of monologues here, this is almost always the missing factor. Unless you are creating the impression of purpose and relationship in your performance, it will be ineffective. And that is what most agents are looking for when they watch you act alone, whether they know it or not. It is that connection that creates the impression of true interaction. It’s what you must strive for, no matter what you are acting…alone or not.

Winnie Hiller

Making faces won’t make it!


Teaching acting and singing has been my passion for over 30 years. I enjoy helping young artists who have a deep desire to learn. That’s why I’ve been posting short acting lessons which will soon be a book, and started this sub so I would able to interact with more actors who need help.

I’ve learned a lot in being involved in Reddit the last few weeks. Just reading some of the questions and comments from young actors made me realize that many beginners are at the mercy of “not so great” acting classes in their communities. Either their teachers are neglecting to include very important information or they are teaching the opposite of good acting technique. Of course others are receiving great training.

But I’ve seen quite a few actors mention that they practice facial expressions on camera or in a mirror. One young man was studying both in class and with a private coach in Boston. He said he did this because he “wanted to show deeper expression” and “look genuine”.

I know he has great intentions and I admire his dedication. But I can’t think of anything worse for a real actor to “practice”. Anything you are trying to “show” — any way you are trying to “look” will never be genuine. If your objective is to make certain faces in a scene, you can’t possibly be in your character’s moment. Your character is not thinking about his face. He’s immersed in his current quest. If you are thinking about your face, you will be playing the role of someone trying to make a face.

Acting is about recreating what you do everyday in real life. Be honest…when YOU are busy trying to accomplish something each day, are YOU thinking about your facial expressions? Do you think perhaps your expressions are lacking in anyway because you are not thinking about them? Less genuine, perhaps? NO!!!! When you are involved in a real-life situation, your facial expressions are always perfectly appropriate.

So when you are playing someone else, you must trust that thinking and feeling and pursuing his/her goals will automatically produce the appropriate expressions for him. It’s none of your business what your face is doing. It is only your job to think and feel the thoughts and emotions that will spontaneously move your face in a genuine way. Forget about how you look. Your character is too busy for that! Simply think his thoughts.

For instance, If you are thinking about seeing a dear friend who has been gone a long time and saying to them, “I am so glad you are here!” You will feel genuinely happy and a smile will appear. If you are thinking about being alone in a cabin in the woods where a murderer has recently escaped from prison and you suddenly hear scratching on the door, you will feel frightened – and you will have, automatically, an appropriate facial expression. You don’t want to try to make your characters “LOOK” genuine. You want to actually (genuinely) feel his/her feelings. Your face will always follow.

Someone was giving me a compliment the other day about my student/client who stars in a TV show. “Since you’ve been working with him, he has gotten so good with using his eyes. He has so many different expressions. He looks like he is really thinking. How did you teach him to do that?” I had to laugh. I have never mentioned his eyes or his facial expressions. I have merely encouraged him to have an active, varied and responsive thought life, as his character, very moment he is on camera…from “Action”…to “Cut”. He is always thinking and reacting. His face and eyes come along for the ride and do exactly what is needed in the scene.

Expression should always start from the inside. Never try to show your feelings. Just feel them. Your imagination and memory and thinking the thoughts of your character will lead you to actually experiencing his/her emotions. That is the true magic of acting.

Another acting student here on Reddit told me that her teacher insists that film acting must be smaller than real life. She became overly concern with acting “correctly for film. So she feels self-conscious whenever she is on camera…trying to give a “film-size performance”. There is no way she can give a believable performance with that mindset. Not unless she will be playing the role of someone trying to be small. Are you starting to get the picture?

Bottom line, you can’t watch yourself when you are acting. You can’t try to show an audience anything. You cannot aim for a certain effect. Not if you want to give a believable performance. You must simply be involved as your character…completely, naturally and sincerely. If you do that, it all will happen on its own, perfectly…just as it does for you in your real life, every day you are alive.

Winnie Hiller

What you think is what you are!


I had a question today about how to keep a performance fresh…how some well-known actors will demand limited surroundings on set so they can imagine they were really there and it would feel more like they were doing it for the first time. All I know is that these actors are considered high maintenance. Acting IS being realistic in an unrealistic situation. That is the craft. But what is the secret for transporting yourself to another time and place…over and over? For me it is about thinking my character’s thoughts, constantly.

When I was a little kid, whenever someone said something mean to me, I would reply in a sing-songy voice, “What you say is what you are”. Now I’m an acting coach and I tell my students “What you think is what you are”. It’s really the key to authentic character portrayal.

In many acting classes, students are asked to do a lot of exercises to “Get out of their heads”. In other words – stop thinking their own thoughts. Their own thoughts are often self-critical and self-conscious, making a good performance impossible. But what many actors are not taught, is that if they get out of their own heads without replacing their thoughts with the thoughts of their character, they end up with a mindless performance. The trick is to know your character well enough to know what he or she would think in every situation. For instance, if you are playing a murderer, one of your thoughts might be,”You deserve to die, you worthless SOB.” This will continue to the next thought and the next. If you are playing a victim you might think a thought like, “Bad things always happen to me”. Each situation in the scene will trigger these types of thoughts and reactions. If you are playing a loser you might think a thought like, “Nobody likes me. You probably won’t like me either”. If you are playing a hero, you might choose to think a thought like, “You can count on me. I know how to take care of this”. And on and on. As you think the thoughts, your body and face will automatically reflect the character’s view of life and himself. What you think is what you will be.

Each time you do a scene, your character is experiencing it for the first time, so your mind will be filled with those thoughts… discovering…seeing with fresh eyes. When you are aware that you have done the scene many times, you are allowing your own thoughts to creep in. It is very simple really. I have had actors argue with me that thinking is an interference with doing. But if you are doing things without thinking, I want to steer clear of you. Our minds are always thinking something. We just need to choose what to think.

I have seen the results in actors of all ages and experience. It works! They need only think their character’s thoughts constantly, as well as respond to others with their character’s thoughts. These thoughts lead into the scripted words in a constant “stream of consciousness”. It is like you are constantly talking…only sometimes your lips move and you are heard. Sometimes your lips don’t move and you can’t be heard.

Of course it takes a great imagination to understand and create an entire thought world for your character. But the thoughts will create feelings and emotions in the actor and the audience. It all snowballs into a very realistic experience.

This applies to your everyday life, too. Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage. And all the men and women merely players”. Whether you realize it or not, you are choosing the character you are playing every moment of your life by the thoughts you allow to run through your mind. Who do you want to play in this comedy/drama of your life? It’s your choice. You are the star of the show, for sure, but will you play the victim, the loser, the villain or the hero? A lot of it is determined by the thoughts you choose to think. If you are thinking thoughts that you wouldn’t say out loud, you need to know that you are projecting their message loudly and clearly, even if your lips aren’t moving. The other characters in your story are responding to them as though you were saying them out loud. It’s a heaven or hell creating situation.

On stage or off, “What you think is what you are”. Get out of the head that is thinking the wrong way by thinking the right way. Use your imagination to think about what kind of character you want to have. Know that character well enough to allow his/her mind to be your mind. Think those thoughts. They will trigger the emotions and feelings that will attract what you want in your performance and in your life. You are doing it, randomly, anyway, when you allow your mind to “go wild”. Might as well play the role you truly want to play.

Winnie Hiller

Acting Lesson 2


How many of you remember taking a literature class in high school or college? You were probably asked to analyze the plot, explore the characters’ journeys, map their “arc” of development. You most likely would need to include themes, symbolism and metaphors. The relationships between the hero and those who affect his/her life are all a part of the author’s message. If you had to write an essay for your class you would need to include all those things.

In the acting profession, actors should (at least briefly) do this every time they have a new script or sides to work on. You need to know the message of the piece and your character’s part in delivering it. You need to notice how your character changes in the course of the story and how he or she changes others.

In fact, you need to know your character well enough to think, speak and move like him or her. The essential details that are not included in the script, you need to create so you can have a complete picture. As your character, you need to know where you came from and where you intend to go. You need to know how you feel about every other character and how you are triggered by what they do.

Each actor is very much a part of the creative process. When an actor wins an Oscar or Tony Award, you often hear people say, “He made such interesting choices!”. Even though the writer gives you the framework for your character, there are many aspects of portraying him/her that you alone can decide. This is what makes for a unique portrayal. And the choices you make (even though no one may ever know the details you hold in your mind) should be interesting – both for you and the audience.

When you first get handed written copy, read the material given to you, carefully and thoroughly. Make sure you understand it completely. If there are words you are not familiar with, look them up. If something doesn’t make sense to you, ask someone for help. When you think you grasp every word, you can begin to ask yourself the following questions:

• • •

1. Who am I?

The answer to this question must be much more in-depth than a character description you might receive in an audition breakdown. You need to know your character inside and out. There are all kinds of clues hidden in the script itself. Notice how your character reacts to the events in the play. Are they easily discouraged or always ready for anything? Are they confident or shy? What do they love or hate? Do they have a good sense of humor or not so much? Do people like them or try to avoid them. Are they kind or selfish? What do they believe in? What would be their philosophy of life? And then WHY? Your character is the way he/she is for a reason…a good reason. They feel justified in doing whatever they do, so never judge them. You must take on their point of view.

There is so much to learn if you look closely and dig deeply… you must be a detective, like Sherlock Holmes. You’ve got to solve the mystery so you can begin to think, talk and respond, exactly as your character would. Your character will resemble you physically. But how are they different than you personality wise? Why? Were your backgrounds different…parents, education, living conditions? Do they walk differently…speak with a regional accent? How are you the same?

If your character does something you think you would never do, you need to figure out a reason you would do it – under different circumstances. What would it take? You want to be able to walk in your character’s shoes…inhabit their skin, but you must find him or her within you…amidst the many aspects of your own personality – both in who you have been, and who you could be if the situation were different. Who you are now, who you have been in the past and what you imagine you could be, is what you have to work within creating a character.

All of this information will factor into how your character thinks and responds to people and circumstances within the story. The more you know…the more you can relate to the character’s point of view, the better you will be able to allow him/her to live within you. It might help to write a short bio and description of your character.

2. Who am I talking to?

If you are working from a script, you’ll know the character’s name, but what is your relationship with that person? Do you have a similar relationship in real life? Remember that every person you know brings out something different in you. Be specific when choosing who you might cast (in your mind) as that other person, from the people in your own life.

Though you will do your best to embody the thoughts and desires of your character, your own life’s experiences and relationships are your best resource to draw from. Imagining you are speaking to someone you actually know will help you to portray a believable relationship between your character and the person they are speaking to.

Suppose you are doing a monologue and you are speaking into the camera or doing a soliloquy….you still should choose a person from your own experience to converse with. Real people don’t chat to cameras or speak at length with themselves. If they do, there is an imaginary person conversing with them…someone giving them opposition and responses.

It is important to remember that no matter how much backstory you create for your character, it is actually the person you are speaking to who should be the focus of the scene. Rather than it being about you, the scene should become about them and how you want to change them. More on that later.

3. Where am I?

Your environment has a big effect on how you feel and act. You are in a different mood when you are in your bedroom than when you are in your kitchen. If you are auditioning for a role, you will probably be in a casting director’s office. This is not an environment most people feel at home and relaxed in. But the scene does not take place in a casting director’s studio. So it is your job to place your character in the appropriate environment, using your imagination. When you are on set, you will need to imagine that you are not surrounded by crew or audience. They must disappear from your awareness. Putting yourself in the correct surroundings will very much aid your ability to immerse yourself in the fantasy and allow you to give a believable performance.

4. What do I want from the person I am speaking to?

This is your objective… the big “act” of your ACTing. I spoke about this at length in the first chapter of my book (See my post here, “ACTING – LESSON #1“) . Every word you say in the scene is to accomplish this…to get the other person to give you what you desire. This quest – changing the other character, is what the scene is all about.

5. What are my tactics?

You have one objective but you should employ a varied strategy to accomplish it. As you look through your lines again, explore the different ways you are using your words as you attempt to move the other person to your way of thinking. You may try humor or sympathy, bribes or threats, guilt or anger. This makes for an interesting quest. (See my past posts, “BEATS = TACTICS” and “DON’T WASTE YOUR WORDS”).

6. What was the conversation leading to the first line?

Your character didn’t suddenly appear out of nowhere on his first appearance in the story. His entire life led up to that moment. What was said immediately before the scene begins, is what caused it to begin. It probably isn’t in the script. Still, you need to know why and how you came to that moment. Your scene is a continuation…a response to what happened before. In fact, all of your lines are a response to something. You should never make any statements as you act. Everything is an answer…either to what someone asks, implies or what you think they don’t understand. You are always in dialogue, even if you are the only one actually speaking. I have lots more to say about this later.

7. What am I really saying?

Is your character saying everything he or she means? Probably not. In real life, each time we speak we must choose a limited number of words to communicate so much more. The same holds true for your character. In fact, your character may say the opposite of what he really means. Take a look at each of your lines. Read between the lines. He might say “I love you” and actually be thinking “I hate you”. This is called “subtext” and your performance should be rich with it. What you are thinking as you say something gives it its true meaning. So your thoughts as you speak are far more important than what you are actually saying.

8. What is the other character saying? Even when the other character is saying nothing, you are always responding to what you think they are saying. Acting is reacting. Know what you are responding to so every line you say can be an answer.

• • •

You should ask and answer all of these questions every time you act, whether it is a short piece of commercial copy or a long Shakespearean monologue. Does this seem like too much work? If you answered yes, it’s because you haven’t done it enough. If you practice, it will become second nature and you will soon be able to quickly see what is required of you in the scene.

I am an acting coach and often book students for one-hour sessions, one after another. They come to me to get coached for auditions they have that day or the next. I read through the sides once and immediately can guide them on everything they need to do…objective, relationship, subtext, tactics. How can I do this? Because I do it all the time. Experience has given me great insight and the ability to utilize it quickly. It’s just what I do.

And it’s got to be what you learn to do too. Pick up scripts when you don’t have an audition. Imagine you only have a few minutes to prepare. Do it. Do it over and over. Soon it will be easy.

Make strong specific choices. Take the time to do the work…whether it is just a couple lines or a three-hour play. The process is always the same…finding truth within the written words.

Winnie Hiller

Acting Lesson 1

I’m a Hollywood acting coach who works with both celebrities and newcomers. Since agents and casting directors often send me their completely inexperienced “discoveries”, to prepare them for an important audition, I often need to give them a lifetime of advice in an hour or two before an event that could change their lives. It isn’t easy, but more than once, these fresh off a plane from a little town, non-actors, have succeeded after our sessions. It’s not ideal but so much better than nothing. And after they book the role they must continue their lessons. Studying acting is a lifetime process of always striving to be better.

But watching YouTube college performances and after joining Reddit a couple weeks ago, I am seeing self-tapped videos that seem to lack evidence of even the most minimal training. They claim to be in class, but don’t know even the most basic of acting concepts. I want to be able to help them in some way. So I want to start from the very beginning…a thorough examination of what acting is…how it is different than simply reading or reciting lines. It is something all together different…an art form. A truly magical one.

I think there are aspects of acting that can be beneficial for all people…even those who will never be performers. Acting requires deep self-knowledge and an understanding of what makes people tick (especially ourselves). Who wouldn’t benefit from that?

So I’m working on writing a book for people who act. Which means it’s a book for everyone. Maybe you’ve been doing theater, TV and film for decades. Or you could be a beginner. Maybe you’ve never even read a script and have no intention of ever being a professional thespian. No matter which you are, you act. You’ve been acting your whole life, whether you know it or not. The following is just the introduction to that concept. What will follow in future posts is everything I teach newcomers when they are thrust into a professional situation. But I think anyone will benefit.

Let’s look at the word “ACT”. What does the word mean? Let’s imagine you tell someone you were doing something and they ask you, “Did you complete the act?” What do they mean? Most likely they want to know if you finished what you were doing. You were in pursuit of a goal. You wanted something and that desire set you into ACTion. You either accomplished it or not. It is a focused and diligent attempt to DO SOMETHING.

So acting is to be in pursuit of a goal. Accomplishing a goal might take strength and physical effort. It might take getting other people involved to help you. You may need to speak to people…try to persuade them to come around to your way of thinking. People and circumstances will oppose you, so you will try different means of convincing them to be on your side. When you really want something, you will do whatever it takes to get it. That’s acting. And it’s not pretending to do something. It’s actually doing it.

Sometimes we say we want something but we don’t ACT like we do. We won’t do whatever it takes to get it. That’s because we don’t really want it. We want something else, more. For instance, we might say we want to study for an upcoming important test. The plan is to buckle down and hit the books. But what we really want is to avoid studying. We begin to try to convince ourselves and others that it is alright to procrastinate. We are going to get started soon…and we will do better after we’ve watched a little TV. We might employ more tactics to NOT study than to study. Avoidance is actually a pursuit. Either way we are trying to get something. We are ACTING.

The point I’m trying to make is that for as long as we are alive, we are always acting. We always want something. We are always trying to get it. As soon as we complete one goal, we have another. Even when we are sleeping we are in pursuit of getting the rest we need so we can wake up ready to go out and accomplish more stuff. So you see, no one lacks any experience at acting. We do it womb to tomb. It is when you must do it on stage or in front of a camera when the real artistry is required.

Some people think of acting as playing a character. If that is your definition, my argument holds. Everyone is an actor. Everyone has some kind of character. Everyone plays different roles. Sometimes you play the part of a parent. Sometimes a boss. You play the lover and the villain…the hero and the victim. The only difference between you and the greatest actors who have ever lived, is that they have the skills to do what you do naturally, ON CUE. They can take on someone else’s desires and go to work at achieving them with someone else’s words. It isn’t easy, which is why most people are pretty bad at it when they first try. They, in most cases, are only reading the words…reciting the lines. They are not going after anything. They are not using their words for a purpose, so they are ineffective.

But sometimes the character we play in real life is ineffective. At some point everyone has had the experience of being too shy, too frightened or lacked the confidence or determination to achieve their goals. They needed a different character to get the job done. In that case, wouldn’t it benefit everyone to learn to employ one during these times…to have the character that could do what needs to be done?

Many acting classes spend so much time trying to help the students to “be free”…to break through their blocks and barriers. Beginning students often become so obsessed with it that it becomes their objective in the scene rather than becoming absorbed in their character’s goal. And when your goal is “to be free” it assumes the condition of entrapment. No wonder they appear to be struggling. Get into your character’s mind…go after their desires and goals and you will have no room for your own self-limiting thoughts. This is true freedom as an actor. Just DO!!!

So I write these posts for all you actors, whether you confine your performances to the real world or delve into the fantasy world of stage and screen. There is so much more, so stay tuned. I’ll be sharing it here, so follow me if you are interested. Shakespeare tells us “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”. Guess we all might as well learn to act.

Winnie Hiller