Meet Constantin Stanislavski - he’s widely recognised as the Godfather of modern acting craft.
Central to his theory is an understanding of human beings as creatures of desire…with the truth of our existence defined by what we want or need most at any given moment.
Consider how you’ve spent every second of your day until now...you woke up and needed the toilet...next you needed to eat…maybe next you wanted to get ready to leave home...and so on and so forth until just now when you wanted to read something online...thanks for stopping by!
To play the truth of a character, Stanislavski asks the actor to intimately understand the string of wants/needs being pursued in each moment of the character’s time within the story. As a need is met, one progresses to the next and so on.
Stanislavski extends this idea in suggesting that a character’s string of wants/needs arch towards achieving a singular, defining, specific long-term target...a ‘Super Objective’.
Take Shakespeare’s Macbeth. When we meet him at the beginning of the play as a noble warrior his Super Objective could be “I want to serve the King in war and bring glory to my house”.
After hearing the Weird Sister’s prophecy his mind is poisoned with murderous ambition…
”I want to be King” and then on successfully ascending- for the rest of the action of the play:
“I want retain my throne and ensure that my children will be Kings”.
Is there a singular Super-Objective that you can define for yourself at this stage in your life?
Many of those in the rat-race hold most store by their professional ambitions “I want to make enough money to retire early”. Others are family orientated “I want to be the best parent I can be and give my child the best start in life”. Sadly whilst travelling I’ve witnessed many living a hand to mouth existence “I want to survive”.
In Episode O of this blog (click here for the link) I wrote about how my current focus is to gain an understanding of how best to proceed in my career as an actor. Essentially, my current Super Objective is to define my Super Objective!
With over four months on the road I’m pleased to report the following perspectives and insights that have arisen from conversations with fellow travellers. Thanks to each and every one of them!
This concept (from Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why) rang all kinds of bells with me.
When I decided to be an actor you could say that I was working from the ‘Outside In’. I wanted to be an actor because it seemed to offer the promise of a fun and exciting life.
After years of dedication and training I became an actor and it is indeed fun and exciting, but to have hedonism/personal success as my core vision/ambition has come to feel hollow.
So what should my ‘Why’ be? Hopefully something that gives me a sense of purpose, deeper meaning and happiness...they seem like worthwhile ingredients to a life well lived.
Again I’m very grateful to recent conversations with fellow (spiritually-minded) travellers for helping me distill the following insight, best summed up in this quote:
“Not money, or success, or position or travel or love makes happiness - service is the secret.”
And so going forward I ask myself how may I best be of service? How can I...with my skillset, with my means, with my knowledge and experience, energy and passions best serve the world?
Tune in next month folks. Four more months on the road to gain an idea or two...