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Is it Action or Intention?

October 28, 2015

Action vs. Intention
By Loren Chadima, Acting Coach

Ask anyone who has taken classes at Intentional Acting and they will tell you intention is the name of the game. So let’s play a quick game and qualify what makes a good intention.

Is “I want the ice cream,” a good intention?  Or is it an action?

It is an action. A good intention will connect you to the other person in the scene. To reframe that line so that it is an intention and makes another person feel or do something, it would read something like this: “I need you to give me the ice cream.”

Acting Is Doing

What connects actors and puts life into a scene is actors needing something from one another, in other words having intentions. “I want the Ice cream.” says that I can take it from you and I don’t need you to do anything.

Whereas, “I need you to give me the ice cream” makes you need the other actor and have to engage with them in an action. The latter will give both actors something to do. And remember Acting is Doing. Also notice that intention is more specific than an action, which is always better.

Vague Intentions

Persuade, Convince, Realize and Understand are unspecific and unhelpful intentions. When an actor tells me that they are using one of these intentions, I instantly know what’s wrong with their audition.

Think about it. How do you know if you persuaded me? How do you know if you convinced me? Because you made me feel or do something.

For example, if I’m trying to persuade you to buy my car, I want you to make a decision and give me money. Now that gives me something specific to fight for and listen for. And, I know I got my intention when you give me that money. This gives you, the actor, something tangible to do in the scene.

Next time you ask yourself, “What’s my intention?” and to persuade, to convince, to realize, or to understand come to mind, ask yourself, “What do I need the other actor to feel or do, to know that I have persuaded or made them understand.”

Are your Intentions vague?  How have you addressed this area of your acting?  Remember, as an actor, you’re part of a community and your experience – which is your story – can serve as a valuable learning tool and inspiration for others.