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Stanislavski Essay, Research Paper

Stanislavski

Konstantin Stanislavski was born on January 17th 1863, in Moscow, Russia. His full name is Konstantin Alekseyev Stanislavski. The son of a wealthy manufacturer, he was granted much financial backing for his amateur theatre endeavors. Stanislavski is famous for his introduction of a new method of preparing for plays. His method resulted in remarkable ensemble acting from those who studied his system. His career work would allow him to be seen as the most influential person in Russian theatre. Stanislavski was very vocal about his dislike for the melodramatic style of acting that was popular at that time in Russia and throughout the world. When he finished his schooling, he decided to do something about it. Stanislavski met and became friends with a successful playwright and teacher of theatre named Vladimir Nemitovich – Danchenko. Danchenko and Stanislavski began to discuss ways in which they could change Russian theatre for the better. After a long meeting on June 22, 1897, the two decided to form the Moscow Art Theatre. Their new theatre was established with the hope of finding new truth and realism in theatre.

In 1906, Stanislavski began to develop a new system for training actors, while at the same time acting and directing himself. In 1913 he set up an experimental theatre called “First Studio”, where the primary goal was to develop his new acting techniques. This new studio proved to be the training grounds for Stanislavski’s new approach towards acting.

On October 29, 1928 Konstantin Stanislavski suffered a major heart attack. While this shocking occurrence put an end to his days of acting, it lit a fire under his passion for directing, teaching and writing. He fine-tuned his methods of acting into a scientific approach. This method of his was the result of many years of trial and error. Stanilavski’s method required actor’s to experience the feeling of living the life of another person. The basis of this approach was that actors must believe everything that is happening on stage. He made this possible by teaching actors to recall their own personal feelings and emotions and use them on stage. By using these past emotions, actors can transform them into the emotions of the character they are portraying.

Observation was also another key point of Stanislavski’s teachings. He believed that studying people and their behavior was very beneficial for an actor. The more time an actor spent observing, the better actor he or she would become. Another of Stanislavski’s teachings he is famous for is his question ‘What If’? This has come to be known as the magic if. This technique was designed to make the actor ask the question ‘what if I was in this situation’? If the actor feels that what he is portraying on stage is real, then it becomes real for the audience. Stanislavski aimed to produce dramatic characterizations of great realism and psychological truth. He demanded a lot from his students, and they gave it to him. They had to be very intelligent, have complete self-discipline, perfect control of their voice, diction, physical movement and the ability to experience a full range of human emotions. He expected actors to completely analyze their characters so that they could understand why they behaved the way they did. He instructed all of his actors to analyze themselves as well as their characters.

From the time he began working with Danchenko until his death, Stanislavski committed himself to revolutionizing the system of actor training. Most of his productions were experimental and what he learned in these he applied to his teachings. “Stanislavski discovered that actors who recalled their own feelings and experiences and substituted them for those of their characters were able to create a special link with the audience.” This allowed actors not to have to rely strictly on inspiration. The superficial reality of the script became unimportant to the emotional reality of the actor.


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