As THE ALLEY THEATRE, here at Central, puts up each production in the season, I watch all the players onstage and the crew backstage as they prep, rehearse and polish. I really enjoy theatre, as I have for most of my life. It is a reflection of life, and a teaching tool like none other. But everyone must know their roles clearly, even those who aren’t “actors”.
I’ve watched certain characters play their roles as they moved on and off the stage during other productions in other companies. At one somewhat moving and emotionally charged drama I started analyzing exactly what it was that caused me to find certain players “riveting” while others were simply “fine”. What I found was the actors who understood their characters’ “prime objective” and acted accordingly were the most interesting to follow. Every acting decision was precise, they moved with authority, clarity and purpose. The others were merely reciting their lines.
For an actor, the “prime objective” is what drives the action of the character they are playing. One character’s PO (prime objective) might be to “get the girl”, and everything that actor does, even those things unrelated to “getting the girl”, stem from the PO. There may be “minor objectives” along the way, for instance: avoiding another character or pretending to be someone they are not, but the PO is still the driving force for the character, it is the definition of that character, it gives the character purpose and meaning and sets the character’s priorities. A character’s PO allows for that character and others to “connect”, emotionally, onstage…and that human depth of connection is what separates good theatre from great theatre.
What is YOUR LIFE’S “Prime Objective”? Do you have an overriding purpose that defines your direction in life? Most people do…although they don’t realize it. A Prime Objective may define itself FOR you, if you’re not careful. Is your life directed by just trying to survive? Is your Prime Objective to enjoy every minute, at all costs? Is your Prime Objective to feel secure by having your life arranged, filed and your bank filled?
For those of us who follow Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life…He has told us what our Prime Objective is: “to know God.” (John 17:3 “This is forever life, that they may know You, the One True God, and the One You have sent – Jesus the Messiah.”) The direction to “get to know God” comes from a “Stage Director” who understands clearly that if “knowing God” is our Prime Objective, then all other objectives, relationships, and plot twists, will fall into place and everything else will be put into perspective. This “Spiritual Stage Director” understands that “knowing God” is a lifetime pursuit, a grand plan, an energizing force…and so, the “life” is found in the journey.
The danger for any actor is NOT choosing or knowing what their character’s Prime Objective is…when that happens, they are at the mercy of the other actors onstage, they are at the mercy of the script…they wander in uncertain circles…and the audience soon forgets they were even onstage during the show.
Again I ask, what is YOUR Prime Objective in life? Whatever it is, it will define every scene, every relationship and every outcome…even to the final curtain. My advice…listen to the Director and LIVE the story, as opposed to just being IN the story.