July 4, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Attention Actors: What’s Your Problem?

By Guy Camilleri

If you are reading this from an actor, writer or director’s point of view (POV), more than likely you are familiar with these terms: Objective, Action, Obstacle, Intention, Need or Problem. As a non-actor, I imagine you can relate to the times in your personal and professional life as well when you have heard or used these words.

Today, I want to highlight the word problem, as it’s one of my favorite words to use in the studio because ‘without a problem, there is no conflict and without conflict, there is no scene, period.’ In every scene, our main character (Hero) is either moving closer to their goal or has moved away from their goal.

As an actor, the work is to identify the problem within the scene and then start exploring various tactics to solve it in spite of the literal and emotional obstacles preventing us from getting one step closer to the finish line.

In our daily lives, we are faced with problems all the time. And, like the hero in a scene in a movie, we can be our own best HERO and find tactics to solve the problem. Joseph Campbell talks about this in The Hero’s Journey, referring to it as “answering the call.”

How many times have you been faced with a problem and decided to either ignore it or walk away from it?

What separates life (off-stage) and life onstage is that what’s happening on stage is a heightened reality It’s not just reality; it’s heightened reality because the stakes are life or death (emotionally or literally) and as we’ve seen in the best stories told, these two can happen simultaneously!

Off-stage, we have the option to either deal with the problem, solve it or just walk away from it. But on the stage, there is another actor opposite us, and we can’t just abandon our fellow actor… well, unless the scene calls for it. But if it doesn’t call for that, then that means the actor has to dig deeper and find another tactic to solve the given problem (provided to us by the writer-director).

As an actor and as an acting coach, I like to approach each scene as a two-headed coin. On one side of the coin, you (the actor) have to address what is literally occurring in the scene and also what is happening to you on an emotional level (your feelings, interpretations, judgments, etc.) as a result of these words on a page. Then, you need to get down to business, honor the problem and start solving it on a moment-to-moment basis.

On the other side of the coin, you (the artist) have the opportunity to acknowledge what is literally and emotionally happening to you at the moment. Then, you need to decide if you are going to answer the call and honor your artistic integrity or will you deny it, dance around it or in some cases, walk away from it.

Are you putting your unique stamp on a scene or are you going to be a good soldier and do only that which you are told to do?

Honoring your artistic integrity (imagination, interpretation, point of view, feelings, choices, etc.) is the single most important thing you can do as an actor-artist for yourself and your colleagues, not to mention it’s a great to avoid a performance that is another cliché of a cliché.

Keep flipping that coin!

Related Posts

Column: Groundwater Law Has Not Stopped Subsidence

July 1, 2022

July 1, 2022

By Tom Elias Drive almost any road in the vast San Joaquin Valley and you’ll see irrigation pipes standing up...

SMa.r.t. Column: It’s Time to Look at the Facts of Santa Monica’s Housing History

June 30, 2022

June 30, 2022

The Narrative: Santa Monica’s decades-long housing construction “shortage”  The Narrative endlessly repeats the refrain that for decades Santa Monica has...

SMa.r.t. Column: The Mansionization of Santa Monica

June 17, 2022

June 17, 2022

Editor’s note: This column originally appeared in print in 2016.  In the 1980s, Santa Monica’s single family zoning code was...

OP-Ed Response to DTSM Board Chair Barry Snell and Plea to City Council Regarding Safety Ambassadors and Ambassador Program

June 14, 2022

June 14, 2022

I am responding to the OP-ED (dated June 7, 2022, Santa Monica Mirror) by City-appointed DTSM Board Member and now...

SMa.r.t. Column: Wheeling Electrically

June 9, 2022

June 9, 2022

A recent weekend visit to Dana Point, on the Orange County coastline, revealed a curious scene: dozens, if not hundreds...

Population Loss: New Era or Pandemic Glitch?

June 3, 2022

June 3, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist The numbers suggest a major change is underway in California. It would take a Nostradamus to...

SMa.r.t. Column: The Sound of Silence Is Big & Tall

June 3, 2022

June 3, 2022

All too often these days we find ourselves wondering how we could have been so correct about so many planning...

Film Review: Top Gun Maverick

June 3, 2022

June 3, 2022

FILM REVIEWTOP GUN: MAVERICKRated PG-13137 MinutesReleased May 27th I love films where the cast actually lives through the story in...

OP-Ed: DTSM Chair Barry Snell on Safety Ambassadors

June 2, 2022

June 2, 2022

By Barry Snell Chair, Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. Board of Directors  The Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) Board of Directors...

Affordable Spaces for Small Business

May 27, 2022

May 27, 2022

Los Angeles County recently proposed a program providing financial incentives for certain “Legacy” family businesses in their original historical location....

​​Doubt Removed: Oil Refiners Gouging Us

May 23, 2022

May 23, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist There was some room for doubt back in February, when gasoline prices rose precipitously: Until the...

Is the Big Housing Crunch Mostly Fiction?

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist In some parts of California, there is definitely a housing crunch: small supplies of homes for...

Is Gelson’s Our Future? Bigger Is Not Better & Not Necessary! – Part 2

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

The dream of our beachfront city is about to become a nightmare! Just imagine a tsunami of these projects washing...