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The Ultimate Character teaches acting students the general principles of building a character and also the specifics, based on that character's physicality, personal history and psychology. Part of this is what we call building a character "from within" and also building a character "from without". The first is based specifically on the work of Lee Strasberg, the second is based largely on the system of Stella Adler.
This begins with a textual analysis of the character in terms of the given circumstances of the script. What do we know about past actions and past behavior of characters in the world of the play? What does each character know about the other? What secrets are they holding back or dying to tell? What are the desires and objectives of your character and how do they stack up against those of the others?
In addition to a character's history, we make decisions about their bodies, their work, their education, occupation and their childhood experiences. All of these things come into play when an actor is molding their character's persona and impulses. Students also learn how to formulate their character's personal life and private behavior, such as their sexuality, fears, complexes and their obsessions.
The more detailed an actor's preparation in character work, the more compelling that actor is when they "step into character".