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Kimberly Jentzen’s Acting Power Tools of Objective and Obstacles

April 14, 2018

Kimberly Jentzen, the author of Acting with Impact, discusses nine “power tools” for developing actors in her book. Two of the tools she explores are objective and obstacles. In two video lessons, the Los Angeles-based, multi-award-winning acting coach succinctly shares her insights on the topics hoping to inspire both great and memorable performances.  

Objective

In this first video, Jentzen guides actors to keep the all-important objective at the forefront of any given performance; that is, intentionally pursuing that which motivates a character. “Every character is attempting to ‘get’ something in every script and play. It may be love, a job, recognition, money, respect, sex, attention,” she insists. When audiences sense a character’s objective, they’re much more likely to be drawn into the storyline. But while reading a script, the character’s need is not always easy to distinguish within a scene. For this reason, Jentzen encourages actors to gain clarity on their character’s emotional journey within the given scene. “There’s a change–there’s always a change,” she says advising, “Read the end. Now, are you happy or less than happy at the end of the script? That’s the question … If you’re less than ecstatic or happy, there’s something you did not get. What is it? That would be your objective. If you’re really, really happy, you got something. That’s your objective.” Once the objective becomes clear, an actor is empowered to give an informed and authentic performance.

Obstacle

In part two of her power tool series, Jentzen tackles the topic of a character’s obstacle. There’s always something that interferes with a character’s ability to get what he or she wants or needs. Examples of obstacles might include family members who object to a protagonist’s dreams, characters with conflicting desires, a lack of money or resources to accomplish a goal, or a physical barrier ranging from a door shut in someone’s face to a sinking ship. From cinema classics to modern movies, multiple obstacles present themselves along the hero’s journey. “Your obstacles sometimes can’t even be planned. You don’t know why or how you’re not going to get what you want,” Jentzen says. To keep things fresh, she encourages actors to approach the material with a playful spirit, even improvising parts with scene partners to discover, rather than plan, what interferes with the characters’ wants and needs. In this way, Jentzen says to, “Be aware, in the moment,” and asks actors, “What’s in your way?”

Jentzen started her career as an actor and quickly discovered a passion for teaching when many of her fellow actors sought her insights and wisdom to ignite their performances. Using objective and obstacle, Jentzen hopes to inspire actors to work on their roles organically, to better equip actors to have an emotional impact on audiences, and ultimately become brilliant in their craft. She says, “It doesn’t matter where you are in the evolution of your art, as long as you’re on the road.”

For actors who wish to more deeply develop their mastery of understanding and expressing emotions, Jentzen also offers Life Emotions Cards and Exercises. The deck is stacked with 52 cards with specifically crafted definitions, exercises, and suggestions honoring and exploring feelings including how to release and move beyond emotions that are hard to overcome. The cards are designed to strengthen an actor’s confidence and presence while at work, on stage, and in personal relationships.

Jentzen’s insights regarding character development, emotional depth, cold reading, and scene study are appreciated by directors seeking talent, writers delving deeply into the struggles of their characters, and actors dedicated to learning the craft. She is currently editing her next book entitled Acting with Instinct which is scheduled for release later this year.