Acting – Back to the Basics!

By Guy Camilleri | Today, I’m excited to share with you some of the basics of acting. One of the first things an actor learns is that ‘acting is reacting.’ While I’m in complete agreement with this, I’ve been known to say at my acting studio in Venice Beach; “Acting is doing, and the doing requires practice.”

If you are an artist, musician, chef, gardener, plumber, pilot, soccer coach, parent (yes, growing a child is an art), the ‘doing’ usually involves the use of something external; an object, instrument, or a set of tools to practice and grow your craft hopefully resulting in an experience that evokes a feeling of self-expression.

Actors, on the other hand, don’t always have something to practice with (externally, I mean). Instead, they are required to rely on their body, mind, imagination and the experience of internal/external stimuli as their tools. Actors are in fact, the instrument and the practitioner of said instrument. Moreover, as actors, we need to learn how to use our instrument effectively with a purpose to satisfy that which we are in pursuit of.


That being said, there are times when a role requires the literal use of something tangible to practice with. This can deepen an actor’s experience because you can literally feel what it’s like to relate to an object, along with the potential to affect and be affected behaviorally and emotionally when engaging your five senses; Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste, Hearing.

In my classes, I teach six basic steps to communicate what we refer to as ‘The Anatomy of Action.’ I first learned of these tools from Gene Frankel, a master teacher and director in New York whom I studied with for seven years. These tools have been passed down through generations, and there are many variations of said tools along with customized descriptions and methods when teaching the craft of acting.

As actors, everything we do in a scene must ultimately be expressed as action, not feeling. Here are six tools to assist you as an actor, writer or director when exploring and analyzing scenes, monologues, screenplays and plays.

Need/Want: The very thing that must be satisfied. It is the motivation for action, and it is the ‘the cue for passion.’

Trigger: A point of impulse, instinct or idea.

Intention: The over-all unifying drive to satisfy the need and to solve the problem, (the task at hand).

Action: Varying strategies (tactics) that work to accomplish the intention.

Obstacles: That which blocks or frustrates the intention, internally and externally.

Objective: The goal and satisfaction of the need and the extinction of the need combined with the fulfillment of the intention.

Guy Camilleri is a Venice-based actor, acting-life coach, and poet. Visit