Evette Henderson - Unearthed

CHARACTER OBJECTIVES – A Summary Of Chapters 1 And 2 From The Ivana Chubbuck Acting Technique

According to the Ivana Chubbuck Acting Technique there are two objectives to consider and decide upon. The overall (or super) objective which applies to the entire script, and the scene objective which applies to each scene as it implies.


What does my character want from life? What is the primal goal? The main need that drives your character throughout the whole story (script). Your overall goal should be a basic human need. E.g.:

– To find love

– To get power

– To be unconditionally loved

– To have children

– To get married

– To be loved by my mother or father

– To get my ex back in my life

– To have a great career

– To be validated

– To stay alive (to survive)

– To protect and keep a loved one alive

The overall objective is not about plot. How your character attempts to win their overall objective, which is based in an essential human need, is the journey. The overall objective should be simple, basic and active. This allows the actor to stop acting and really be in the scene. Using the editor decide on three or four overall objectives, determined from the circumstances of the script and try them all in rehearsal. The simplest and most effective choice for your overall objective should become obvious. It must make sense throughout the whole script – a coherent and focused through line. Where your character begins and where your character ends up provides clues as to what your overall objective might be. To find the overall objective you must read the entire script more than once.

* NEVER judge your character or their objectives. The character needs to feel that what they are doing is right, which needs to be reflected in your overall objective. The character must feel justified in their behaviour and attitude. E.g. a murderer doesn’t think they’re a bad person as society would. They feel justified in their actions.

The ultimate aim is to WIN YOUR OVERALL OBJECTIVE. Man’s survival instinct makes us goal-oriented. Our emotional lives come only as a result of getting or not getting our goals. Finally, personalise your character’s overall objective. What does the overall objective mean to you, if anything? All acting is relationship driven in one way or another, you must find the overall objective and make it personal so you can relate to it to strengthen your performance and make it real.


One scene at a time determine your objective. It must support the overall objective. Each scene objective cannot negate the overall objective of the entire script. Each scene is a consecutive link, collectively building into one chain that completes the arc of the entire story. The scene objective is the specific drive of intercommunication between you and the other character within a scene. It’s the precise way that you’re going to achieve the overall objective, informed by the dialogue and activity of the particular scene that you’re breaking down. Your scene objective should be worded in a way that requires a response, e.g. “to get you to be my friend”. In other words, something you can get from the other person in the scene. Going after your scene objective should include the other person, which prevents you from talking at the other actor – instead it makes you talk to them. Again, human relationships. In this way you are looking for a reaction, not a sounding board. Take out the intellect and make it basic, needy and primal. This encourages instinct. When your body and emotions take over behaviour, and afterwards you ask yourself, “Where did that come from? I’m usually never like that,” means your scene objective has arisen as a result of a good bottom-line, high-stakes, basic needy and primal choice.

Make it a good bottom line. Straightforward. Try three to four scene objectives with the dialogue. The one that seems to make the most sense, the one that includes your body and emotions as you’re saying the words out loud is the right one. The scene objective should never change throughout a scene. It must makes sense at the beginning, middle and end. The scene objective has to be something you can process from your mind, heart, gut and sexuality – simple human needs like:

– To get you to love me

– To get you to give me a job

– To make you validate me

– To make you my ally

– To get you to give me my power back

– To get you to have sex with me

– To make you wrong so I can be right

– To get you to give me hope

– To get you to worship me

– To get you to help me feel better

Your scene objective must affect the other actor. Understand the difference between these two examples:

1. “I want love”

2. “I’m going to get you to love me.”

What is your immediate response? The second statement forces a reaction. Think of the scene objective as an affective action you need to take in order to establish human relationship of some kind. The more powerful the scene objective, the more powerful the response of the other actor and thus the more powerful the scene. Always make the scene objective about relationship, not about plot or the writing itself.  You should have an extreme desire to win your goal (scene objective). The scene objective should answer the question, “Why does this scene exist?”

You must keep in mind how the script ends and earn the right, scene by scene, to get there. The end will affect the character right from the beginning.

Summarised by Evette Henderson (for my teenage students)

Find out how Geoffrey Rush develops characters and what he draws on to create scene objectives as well as his preferred acting technique.