Acting Basics

Acting Basics


Actors are detectives always searching for clues to their character.  No matter what your training, the basic approach to a character relies on these fundamental questions.  For those of you who have been acting for awhile, this will simply provide a reminder for character analysis. For those who may be just starting out, these aren’t meant to overwhelm you or to be a substitute for Instinct and Spontaneity.  Rather they can help provide a foundation to allow you to be ‘in the moment’ and follow your instincts. 

1. WHO?​

Who are you? (Adjectives)
Who are you talking to? [Personalization]
Who are you talking about? (if anyone)

2. WHAT?​

What do you want? [Objective/Goal]
​What do you want overall? [Super Objective]
​What are the immediate obstacles/hurdles/challenges? [Conflict]
​What are you feeling? [Emotional Condition]
​What is being, or has been said about you?
What happened right before this scene or monologue started? [Moment Before/Trigger]

3. WHERE?​

Where are you? [Environment]
Where were you before the scene started?
​(especially helpful for film)

4. WHEN?​

When is this scene taking place? [Time of day, etc.]

5. WHY?​

Why are you speaking? [Motivation]
​What compels/impels you to talk to this person?
​or, to put it another way..
What would happen if you didn’t talk to this person now? [Stakes]

6. HOW?​

​How do you get what you want? [Active Verbs]
​What are you physically doing to get what you want? [Physical Action]
​How are you or the situation changed by the end of the play, film, scene,or song? [Arc]
​How (if at all) does this character or scene relate to your own life? [Substitution & Sense Memory]

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