A Love Triangle

Understanding Objectives

Prince Edward

The Prince's objective fuels his passionate speech
(Paul Hopkins as Prince Edward).

Aristotle said that drama was an "imitation of an action." This principle holds true for Western naturalistic acting technique. The creative process of the actor is designed to develop the dramatic action of a play. By this we mean far more than the actor's physical activity on the stage. Although Method actors have a reputation for being overly emotional, uncovering the action is the central goal of their process. The principle question for the modern actor is: what is my character doing and why?

It is a basic principle of Western naturalistic acting that characters act with purpose, that the needs, desires, and intentions of characters drive the action of a play. They constitute the causal force that links one moment of a play to the next. Actors often use the term objective to describe the force that motivates their characters’ actions. An objective is a goal or desire, something that the character wants, or is trying to achieve.


Enter Prince Edward with his poinard in his hand, Lacy and Margaret

Lacy, thou canst not shroud thy traitorous thoughts,
Nor cover as did Cassius all his wiles,
For Edward hath an eye that looks as far
As Lynceus from the shores of Grecia.
Did not I sit in Oxford by the Friar,
And see thee court the maid of Fressingfield,
Sealing thy flattering fancies with a kiss?
Did not proud Bungay draw his portace forth,
And joining hand in hand had married you,
If Friar Bacon had not struck him dumb,
And mounted him upon a spirit's back
That we might chat at Oxford with the friar?
Traitor what answerst, is not all this true?

Edward's Objective

Each actor will look at the play principally from the perspective of their own character. For the purposes of this example, we will be focusing on Prince Edward (played by Paul Hopkins). We know the given circumstances of our scene from Friar Bacon. The Next thing we need to do is choose an objective for Edward...

What do you think the Prince's objective is?

Click on the multiple choice answers below. Comments will appear. Click on the answer again to hide comments.

A. Anger
wrongEdward is clearly angry with Lacy but anger is an emotion not an objective. B. Vengeance on Lacy
wrongYes, the prince wants vengeance for Lacy's betrayal, but is that his primary objective here? C. Margaret
correct Yes, he wants Margaret. She is the specific focus of the feelings he describes as love. Margaret has also been his objective from the very first scene of the play. D. Power
wrongHis powerful position allows him to act with less fear of reprisal but it is not his objective. He is already powerful and dealing with Lacy and Margaret will not make him more powerful. E. b and c
wrongYes, but Margaret is the principal objective. Vengeance on Lacy has become an objective in this scene because, from the prince's perspective, Lacy has stolen Margaret's heart. It is better when you can find one objective that motivates all the action.