What is an Obstacle?

By Webmaster

  • What is an Obstacle?

    Obstacles are at the heart of dramatic tension.

    (by Tonya Tannenbaum)

    In acting, an obstacle is a person or object that stands in the way of your character achieving his or her objective. Obstacles can also be internal or psychological.

    Obstacles are at the heart of dramatic tension. Your character has an objective that he or she would like to achieve. If your character’s need or desire to reach their objective is strong enough, they will take action to achieve this objective.

    Standing in the way of the character achieving their objective is the obstacle. The obstacle is often a person, or persons.

    For example, in Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, having fallen in love, had an objective. They wanted to be together as husband and wife. But the two “star-cross’d lovers” had one big obstacle that stood in the way: a long-standing blood feud between their families. The Montagues and the Capulets were sworn enemies. The hatred between the two families ran so deep that even the servants of the families were at odds.

  • Romeo and Juliet’s objective repeatedly crashing into their obstacle is what makes the Shakespearean play so great. The lovers go to great lengths to overcome their obstacle, including the drugging of Juliet so she can appear dead for a time, only to reawaken in her Romeo’s arms. At least, that was the plan.

    While obstacles are often people, they are not limited to people. Obstacles can, in fact, be anything that prevents the character from achieving their objectives. Obstacles can be inanimate objects. They can even be internal or psychological conflicts within the character themselves.

    When obstacles come into direct opposition with the character’s objectives, conflict is created. This resulting conflict is what makes every story interesting. The audience is first drawn in by the character’s need to fulfill an objective. Then an obstacle is presented. The audience then follows along with the character as they wrestle with, and ultimately overcome (or fail to overcome) their obstacle.


  • You Might Also Like:
    What is a Background Actor?


     

    Recommended Posts

  • Ad

  • Daniel Kaluuya: “I ask the script, ‘What do you want me to do?’” 

    Daniel Kaluuya:  “I ask the script, ‘What do you want me to do?’”  (arranged by Carmichael Phillips) (Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out) “I ask the script, ‘What do you want me to do?’”…

    The Ultimate Audition Preparation Checklist 

    The Ultimate Audition Preparation Checklist Are you fully prepared for your upcoming audition? (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Andrea Piacquadio | Pexels) You were just going about your day, minding your own business. You…

    Uta Hagen, on her definition of bad acting

    Uta Hagen, on her definition of bad acting: ‘If you can see what an actor has pre-arranged, it’s bad acting.’ (arranged by Carmichael Phillips) (Uta Hagen) “When I go to the theater, if…

    The Asian Actor: New opportunities, and a new awakening

    The Asian Actor:  New opportunities, and a new awakening (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Aiony Haust | Unsplash) On March 16, 2021, a gunman walked into Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth, Georgia. The massacre…

    What are Residuals? 

    What are Residuals?  A brief breakdown of this important payment arrangement (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Shane | Unsplash) When you book a role on a television show or in a movie, you are…

  • Ad

  • 7 Good Reasons to Get New Headshots 

    7 Good Reasons to Get New Headshots  There are many reasons why you might consider getting new headshots, despite the costs (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Joel Muniz | Unsplash) There are several immutable…

    Katharine Hepburn: “You don’t have to act. Let the camera do the work.” 

    Katharine Hepburn:  “You don’t have to act. Let the camera do the work.”  (by Carmichael Phillips) (Katharine Hepburn) “Don’t act! You don’t have to act. Stop acting. Don’t push! Let the camera do…

    The Self-Tape Checklist 

    The Self-Tape Checklist  Use it to make sure you don’t leave anything out of your self-tape (by Carmichael Phillips) (Photo: Anete Lusina | Pexels) I can guarantee that you’ve missed something. It’s inevitable….

  • Ad

  • Actor Stories: How Ed O’Neill Landed His Breakout Role by Making a Bold Choice 

    Actor Stories: How Ed O’Neill Landed His Breakout Role by Making a Bold Choice  O’Neill hit casting directors with something they weren’t expecting (by Carmichael Phillips) (Ed O’Neill in Married…with Children) At an…

    Actor Stories: How Matt Damon Created His Own Opportunity, and Made Himself into a Star 

    Actor Stories: How Matt Damon Created His Own Opportunity, and Made Himself into a Star Damon, along with pal, Ben Affleck, refused to wait for Hollywood’s approval (by Carmichael Phillips) (Matt Damon in…

    When You Don’t Have an Agent, Your Agent is You! 

    When You Don’t Have an Agent, Your Agent is You!  You’ve got a very demanding client. So, get going! (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Fauxels | Pexels) Set up your office space. Clean off…

    Michael Jai White: “This business does not support talent. It supports heat.” 

    Michael Jai White:  “This business does not support talent. It supports heat.” (arranged by Carmichael Phillips) (Michael Jai White) “This business does not support talent. It supports heat.” Actor and martial artist, Michael…

    4 Things to Remember When Writing Your Cover Letter 

    4 Things to Remember When Writing Your Cover Letter  Keep it short, sweet and to the point. (by Javier Guerra) (Photo: Andrea Piacquadio | Pexels) You probably already know what marketing materials you…

  • Ad

  • Give Me Feedback on My Self-Tape, or Pay Me for It!

    Give Me Feedback on My Self-Tape, or Pay Me for It! Casting directors don’t even give us the courtesy of a little feedback on our self-tapes (The Anonymous Actor) (Photo: Andrea Piacquadio |…

    What is Taft-Hartley? 

    What is Taft-Hartley?  Let’s explore the law, and the report, that gets actors in the door of America’s largest actor union (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Andrea Piacquadio | Pexels) A Taft-Hartley is the…

    Stella Adler, On the Importance of Confidence 

    Stella Adler, On the Importance of Confidence  “No actor is a success unless he feels inside himself…that he is good.” (arranged by Carmichael Phillips) “No actor is a success unless he feels inside…

  • Ad

  • The Acting World Goes Virtual 

    The Acting World Goes Virtual  And that’s a good thing!  (by Carmichael Phillips) (Photo: Beci Harmony | Unsplash) As the old saying goes, “The only constant is change.” But in this new Covid-19…

    Actors Losing Health Insurance at an Alarming Rate 

    Actors Losing Health Insurance at an Alarming Rate  Covid-19 is forcing changes that put new constraints on the accessibility of health insurance (by Javier Guerra) (Photo: Bermix Studio | Unsplash) Covid-19 has dramatically…

    10 Actors We Loved and Lost in 2020

    10 Actors We Loved and Lost in 2020 Here’s a partial list of some of the actors we will miss (by Carmichael Phillips) (Photo source: Jamie Street/Unsplash) No doubt, 2020 was a rough…

    What is a SAG-AFTRA Must-Join? 

    What is a SAG-AFTRA Must-Join?  Let’s explore this SAG-AFTRA status… (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Eunice Lituanas | Unsplash) A “Must-Join” is the label placed on actors who have surpassed the grace period (usually…

    Bill Nighy: “I still don’t have a process” 

    Bill Nighy: “I still don’t have a process”  (arranged by Carmichael Phillips) (Bill Nighy) “I’m old enough to say that I’ve never knowingly been in character in my life.” Bill Nighy, the English…

  • Ad

  • Create Your Own Opportunities!

    Create Your Own Opportunities!  What’s your excuse for not producing your own projects and casting yourself?  (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Gianandrea Villa/Unsplash) The advent of things like social media and the internet allows…

    Viola Davis: “I write a bio of the character.”

    Viola Davis: “I write a bio of the character.” Viola Davis describes her character-building and collaboration process (arranged by Carmichael Phillips) (Viola Davis) “I read the script over and over and over again….

    Do You Have an Acting Mentor? 

    Do You Have an Acting Mentor?  How having a mentor can help you save time, money and your sanity (by Jim Webb) (Photo: neONBRAND/unsplash) You already know that taking acting classes can help…

  • Ad

  • Good News & Bad News for Background Actors

    Good News & Bad News for Background Actors  There are lucrative opportunities for those fortunate enough to find them  (arranged by Carmichael Phillips)  (Photo: Sigmund/Unsplash) There has been lots of bad news for…

    The 3 Main Types of Commercials 

    The 3 Main Types of Commercials  Commercial actors can benefit from understanding the distinctions (by Javier Guerra) A commercial is a commercial is a commercial. They’re all the same, right? Except, they are…

    Ed Harris: “Acting is a lifelong situation.” 

    Ed Harris:  “Acting is a lifelong situation.” (arranged by Carmichael Phillips) (Ed Harris in Westworld) “Acting is a lifelong situation…’til you drop dead.” Ed Harris is one of the most successful character actors…

    The Easiest Way to Improve Your Acting Life? Go to Sleep!

    The Easiest Way to Improve Your Acting Life? Go to Sleep!  The subtle ways that sleep impacts your performance (by Todd Bruce) (Photo: Damir Spanic/Unsplash) Not getting enough sleep at night? Do you…

    The Self-Tape Request from Hell!

    The Self-Tape Request from Hell! Sometimes casting directors ask for far too much! (by The Anonymous Actor) (Photo: Usman Yousaf/Unsplash) Forgive me for saying this, but this self-taping thing has gone too far!…

    10 Reasons Why Being a Modern Actor is Bad Ass

    10 Reasons Why Being a Modern Actor is Bad Ass There simply has never been a better time to be an actor (by Carmichael Phillips) (Photo: Roy Alanwar/Unsplash) Aren’t you glad to be…

    How to Sell Yourself in 10 Seconds or Less

    How to Sell Yourself in 10 Seconds or Less Quick! Sell your acting career in 10 seconds or less! (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: August de Richelieu/Unsplash) Quick! Sell your acting career in 10…

    What is a Right-to-Work State?

    What is a Right-to-Work State?  There are currently 27 Right-to-Work states in the United States (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Joey Csunyo/Unsplash) A right-to-work state is a state that forbids union security agreements. That…

    Load More