When you pick up a script and begin to familiarise yourself with a character, among the key questions to be asked is: what is my motivation?
In other words, you have to question what makes your character do what they do.
All the directors and teachers I have worked with have said motivation is always found in the script—and these words will forever haunt me:
'Motivation is found in backstory, in what your character says, in how they respond to people and circumstances and in any other notes provided by the writer...do your homework!'
Motivation inspires action
Each fictitious character is individual and entirely different to the next. For some, their motivation is driven by desire, others are driven by a great insecurity, or a sense of injustice they are seeking to right ... and the list of possibilities goes on and on.
As a beginner actor, I confess this is so overwhelming at times!
To play a character, they say, you must be able to define their overarching motivation; for this is the reason why a character does everything they do within a script.
Motivation is the reason why they dress in a particular way, why they become angry with a particular person, why they show compassion to another person and why they just won't give up on something.
Basically, character motivation acts like a compass. No matter what circumstances you find your character in when you step into their world, their motivation will drive you through the story authentically and help you to choose specific actions to play along the way.
Without character motivation, a story is pretty much dead; lacking depth, authenticity and consistency.
As I continue to be haunted by the questions 'What is your motivation?'and 'What is your action and how does this connect with your motivation?' whenever I look at a script, I recently stopped to consider the real life application of this rule.
Beneath the surface
If motivation drives fictitious people and dictates their actions, words and behaviours, surely it must also do the same for us in the real world.
We spend an awful lot of time looking at the motivations of our characters, and what this means for their daily life, but do we first know this about ourselves?
I wonder what we would find if we took a moment to step back and be mindful of ourselves and our motivations. What would we discover? Would we like what we found under the surface? Or would we maybe realise we are in serious need of a readjustment if we are to be the kind of person we aspire to be like?
We spend hours, weeks and even months preparing to play a fictitious person, what would it be like if we spent some small amount of time on the real life we live every day?
Maybe we would be confronted with our insecurities and flaws, with our strengths and attributes, with the things we are proud of and things we seriously need to readjustment.
The world tells us to look at our outward appearances and to have these in check. I suggest we flip this around for a moment and take a health check of the heart.
Make adjustments where necessary so we can play the actions we wish to play, and not fall victim to riding the action of a motivation we aren't even aware of.
I feel challenged to not only be aware of the motivations of the characters I play, but of the motivations of the life I live.
'Though we cannot see the heart, we can see the life.' ― David Paul Kirkpatrick
'Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.' ― Proverbs chapter 4, verse 23
Charlotte Goiris is an upcoming Aussie actress and model. She is passionate about social justice and story telling. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to receive regular updates @charlottegoiris Charley Goiris' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/charley-goiris.html This article appears courtesy of Christian Today Australia