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The reasons for every action on stage? To react to something, yes!

Summary

There were many times my pants were so thin I could sit on a dime and tell if it was heads or tails. ~ Spencer Tracy

Questions

Stanislavsky borrowed from late 19th-century French psychology the concept of emotional memory, recreating past emotions on stage by recalling the sense details that surrounded the original experience. This became the centerpiece of method acting. In the late 1940s, when the Actors' Studio, home of the method, was founded in New York City, Gestalt psychology was just becoming fashionable. The concepts behind many method exercises are in line with Gestalt ideas about how emotion is experienced and remembered.
meyerhold.us
meyerhord.us
* one act fest
Sanford Meisner broke away from Strasberg, but the Meisner Technique also tends to puts too much stress on emotional stimulation and not enough on the actor-audience contract. [ Ed Hooks + "Acting Strategies for the Cyber Age": Actors of the 21st Century will work primarily in front of cameras, with forays into stage. ...It is essential that the 21st century actor re-connect with his shamanistic origins. In the beginning, acting was done in a circle drawn in the dirt, for the assembled tribe. Actors are healers, similar to priests and other religious leaders. Acting Strategies For The Cyber Age connects the dots between ancient shamanism and cyber-opportunities for actors. ]

Notes

chekhov pages @ vtheatre
filmplus
"Peter Brook, one of the few true geniuses when it comes to acting theory, points out that an actor needs to maintain three tension lines -- one between the himself and himself (that's the emotional line), one between himself and his scene partner and one between himself and the audience. If any one of those lines goes slack for even a moment, the theatrical transaction (the contract) is broken. Meisner and Strasberg do not generally approach things this way." [ www.edhooks.com ]

See the notes in method.vtheatre.net on:

Liminal performances: unveiling--the logos, revealing--the mythos
"Acting is unique in its ability to provide a paradigm for this dual consciousness since in its praxis we are always dealing with two egos, the character's and the actor's. The best performances connect the actor's higher self with the character's constructed lower self. The joining of the two is the essence of acting. The ability to do so rests on our dual consciousness, our awareness of our awareness. Before outlining an approach to building liminal performances, we need a brief overview of how we got where we are now." Raymond Munro

see Freud Page

Роль и место техники в искусстве актера. В чем заключается мастерство актера [ru]

О технике работы над ролью. (Работа актера над собой. I. – С. 328–331.)

Объективность законов психотехники:

“Сознание часто дает направление, в котором подсознательная деятельность должна работать. Этим свойством природы мы широко пользуемся в нашей психотехнике. Оно дает возможность выполнять одну из главных основ нашего направления искусства: через сознательную психотехнику создавать подсознательное творчество артиста”. (Там же. – С. 355.)

“У нашей артистической природы существуют свои творческие законы. Они обязательны для всех людей, всех стран, времен и народов. Сущность этих законов должна быть постигнута. Она должна быть положена в основу школьной программы и изучена во всех подробностях. Это единственный путь для создания мастеров искусства.

Все великие артисты, сами того не подозревая, подсознательно шли в своем творчестве этим путем.

Скажут, что такой путь труден. Нет, гораздо труднее насиловать свою природу. Несравненно легче следовать естественным ее требованиям”. (Статьи, речи, беседы, письма. – С. 366; см. также с. 294–297.)

Психотехника нужна “в помощь природе. (Кристи. Работа Станиславского. – С. 113.)

О необходимости знания законов “нашего искусства”. (Статьи, речи, беседы, письма. – С. 399–402.)

О содержании и роли техники в реалистическом искусстве театра. (Топорков. Станиславский на репетиции. – С. 184–190.)

Суждения об искусстве должны опираться на знание его техники. (Статьи, речи, беседы, письма. – С. 217.)

Общеобязательность законов психотехники.

“Уходя из жизни, я хочу передать вам основы этой техники. Их нельзя передать ни на словах, ни в письменном изложении. Они должны быть изучены в практической работе. Если мы добьемся хороших результатов и вы поймете эту технику, то будете распространять и непременно развивать ее дальше”. (Топорков. Станиславский на репетиции. – С. 132; см. также – с. 130–139.

Об условиях и путях практического изучения системы

Требование “распро-ультранатуральности”.

“Наши глубокие душевные тайники только тогда широко раскрываются, когда внутренние и внешние переживания артиста протекают по всем установленным для них законам, когда нет абсолютно никаких насилий, никаких отклонений от нормы, когда нет штампов, условностей и проч. Словом, когда все правда, до пределов распро-ультранатуральности”. (Статьи, речи, беседы, письма. – С. 649.)

О ежедневных упражнениях в беспредметных действиях. (Там же. – С. 633, 657.)

Об изучении логики действий в жизни и о тренировке в этой области:

“В конце концов все новые действия сплетаются из старых. У него, актера, организуется внимание, он начнет и в жизни следить за действием. Мы логики наших действий в жизни не знаем. Когда вы приходите на сцену, то вам нужно изучить эту логику, хотя в жизни мы это проделываем каждый день. Актер должен привыкнуть обращать внимание на логику, замечать ее и в жизни. Он должен полюбить эту последовательность, эту логику, это чувство правды. Вы в это верите? Такому актеру, если он мастер своего дела, я могу сказать: “Потрудитесь к такому-то дню приготовить всю роль по физическим действиям”. (Там же. – С. 663; см. также гл. “Итальянская опера. Шутки” в кн.: Моя жизнь в искусстве.)

О необходимости “туалета души” перед началом спектакля. (Моя жизнь в искусстве. – С. 297, 302–304; Работа актера над собой. – С. 320–321.)

О преодолении своих недостатков:

“Но я, как назло, был высок, неуклюж, неграциозен и косноязычен на многих буквах. Я отличался исключительной неловкостью: когда я входил в маленькую комнату, спешили убирать статуэтки, вазы, которые я задевал и разбивал. Однажды на большом балу я уронил пальму в кадке. Другой раз, ухаживая за барышней и танцуя с ней, я споткнулся, схватился за рояль, у которого была подломана ножка, и вместе с роялем упал на пол”. (Моя жизнь в искусстве. – С. 78.)

Смелость актера – “нахалин”. (Топорков. Станиславский на репетиции. – С. 151.)

“Мало знать “систему”, надо на ее почве придумать свою”. (Кристи. Работа Станиславского. – С. 174.)

...


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The modern movement often called method acting is also often referred to as "the Stanislavski System" after Konstantin Stanislavski who pioneered the ideas in his teachings, writings, and acting. His most influential books are the autobiography My Life in Art, and his trilogy of books set in a fictionalized acting school as a pretense for his own teachings, An Actor Prepares, Building a Character, and Creating a Role.

METHOD (Notes)

Quotations
"I am convinced that Stanislavsky was right. The actor's intense inner work does affect the way the audience experiences the piece, though possibly in an indirect way. Every time I do the traditional Emotional Scale exercise with my actors and students, I become persuaded again. In this exercise, the actor sits quietly with eyes closed. He or she constructs an image from their own emotional past or personal mythology, that elicits a corresponding emotion, that is the referenced by a number on a scale from 1 to 10. The actor starts at 5 which is 'neutral' and proceeds downward, 4 'a little bit off' 3 'bad' 2 'very bad' to 1 'the worst'. The actor then makes her way back up to 5 and proceeds to go through the high end of the scale up to 10 ' the best'.Once they have their images and their numbers, the actors practice going up and down the Emotional Scale. It was in my directing them down to the lower numbers -- though the actors were sitting quietly in the chairs, most not showing any emotion - I could feel the temperature in the room change. It was palpable." Raymond Munro
Stanislavsky: System, Reincarnation, Resurrection...
Century Ago... On June 22, 1897, at the Moscow restaurant Slavyansky Bazaar, Konstantin Stanislavsky and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko began a marathon 18-hour talk that led directly to the organization of a new kind of theater...
2007 google.com/group/acting2

system 101

Stanislavky was an actor who became a director. The same with Meyerhold. If an actor is a hyper-active spectator, a director is a very active actor. A leader of actors, the one who knows when they need help.

Stanislavsky System came out at the Age of Cinema, when most of the movement is done by the camera. What is left for the actor in front of the camera? Clouse-up asks for psychological realism, known in America as "Method Acting" or "Method." (See My Notes to Myself at the end of the page)

OBJECTIVE AND OBSTACLE

"The most important thing in acting is honesty. If you can fake that, you've got it made." -- George Burns

How to structure your acting feelings? The same as with movement: aim, action, release. Aim = objective. How could my objective be visible? Only if I have an obstacle. Without a conflict I have no drama.

In Fundamentals of Acting class we do the "drunk-exits" exercise. Objective (thesis) is a door,the aim is a direct line between you and the door. The Obstacle (anti-thesis) -- being drunk. Synthesis -- your performance, the trajectory of your movement, the combination of the two.

Without a contradiction within your action you can't develop a structure of motion. The notorious "subtext" is the most explicit case of conflicting actions. We do not say what we think. The easiest way to go for a conflict is to seek a contrast. The opposite. Meyerhold used even more radical notion of contra-point. Selection of extremely opposite emotions: love-hatred. Each of the two must be shaped separately; if text is expressing love, subtext would be born out of playing a contrapuntal feeling alone with it.

Seagull
Above: Stanislavsky as Trigorin (Moscow Art Theatre, Seagull by Anton Chekhov). Chekhov loved him as an actor, not as a director.

Stanislavsky
Method2002
: From Inside Out

Honesty in acting we call "believability." "Play well, or play badly, but play truly."(Konstantin Stanislavsky)

This is not a paradox, Stanislavsky wanted to shift actor's attention from "good" and "bad" acting to focus of authenticity of emotions.

OPERATING YOUR EMOTIONS

Training is about gaining this ability to control your emotions. Intellectual clarity is necessary to focus on that or this feeling; next -- working it out to the full extent.
Completed action is always based on emotional completeness.
Here is a testimonial of the most known Stanislavsky trained actor, Michael Chekhov:

"I (have) said that we cannot directly command our feeling, but that we can entice, provoke and coax them by certain indirect means. The same should be said about our wants, wishes, desires, longings, lusts, yearnings or cravings, all of which, although always mixed with feelings, generate in the sphere of our willpower.

In the qualities and sensations we find the key to the treasury of our feelings. But is there such a key to our willpower? Yes, and we find it in movement (action gesture). You can easily prove it to yourself by trying to make a strong, well-shaped but simple gesture. Repeat it several times and you will see that after a while your willpower grows stronger and stronger under the influence of such a gesture.

Further, you will discover that the kind of movement you make will give your willpower a certain direction or inclination; that is, it will awaken and animate in you a definite desire, want or wish. So we may say that the strength of the movement stirs our willpower in general; the kind of movement awakens in us a definite corresponding desire, and the quality of the same movement conjures up our feelings."[1]

Movement is only an expression of inner, emotional movement. "Master-gesture" term is a need to establish STRONG (shaped but simple) gesture. Sometime (often) I have to impose this "action gesture" on actors. This gesture becomes a character's trademark, his (not actor's) habitual movement. It works both ways:
from inside out and from outside in.

NOTES

[1] _Actors on Acting_ Michael Chekhov. To the Actor p.519


Meyerhold's revolt against his teacher (Stanislavsky) was an attempt to bring back theatricality back to stage -- theatre's own language. It was a reaction to the king of the century -- Film.

AFTERTHOUGHTS

Open Dialogue with Myself

"From Inside Out" or "From Outside In"?

My answer is BOTH.
I don't have any problem with Stanislavsky anymore. I use the System. Methodologically. When I can't get it through with an actor, I leave it aside -- let's try biomechanics.

"American System" of Acting? Meyerhold was in love with Taylorism no less than with Kabuki and Commedia del'Arte. Mechanics, almost acrobatics. Very physical. Sports or circus.
What am I doing? What? Another book for actors? (A textbook with Russian accent). After revisiting Russia as a Fulbright scholar, teaching Russian American Theatre program. Poetic scholarship, personal science -- the style of the book. Beginning acting. I taught too many.
To students: I don't believe in teaching and disciples (?), I think that the real knowledge comes through revelations. You understand it when it's yours; only then you can perform. My task is to trigger it, to make it your experience = your practical knowledge. Something you can USE.
To colleagues-instructors: help them. We leave the classroom. The rest is on them, the students. They will self-direct themselves, manage themselves. Teach them to teach themselves.

To students: Think!

STRAIGHT TALK: Do we train for stage acting? What theatre do we have and what kind of theatre ahead?
I don't understand how it works. The acting thing. And this riddle is a major attraction for doing theatre. I wrote this book because I try to understand how I teach acting. I know that acting is coaching and this book is to help you to teach yourself. I am a grotesque creature; trained in Stanislavsky, I liked Meyerhold; I accepted eclectics -- and all I can do is to offer my students whatever works for them. For each one. One only. You should have your own Method and System. And this is your own style. And if you could get there, you're a star.
I try not to teach, I work with my actors, even in class. We are colleagues, we do theatre. The task is simple -- to get it done. Do you know what you have to complete?

Actor =/= Character. Difference between Role and Character. (Meyerhold uses term Image; Character belongs to script).

Character -- Actor -- Role -- Spectator <--> Audience, and back.

Public is a result of mutual dramatic experience (through aesthetics). At the beginning Greek Theatre didn't know two actors in front of the audience. Only one after another. Audience connects actors, makes scenes.
Game and play.
Metamorphosis (Transformation, temporary) and identification -- Meyerhold. Reincarnation and identification -- Stanislavsky. According to Method, character is resurrected through actor and actor's identity is totally dissolved into character's persona. Double existence of actor (Meyerhold). To ask a non-trained actor to create a totally new persona out of his own (he has little knowledge of) is to push him to the text (that's why "cold" readings). Film industry simply decided that no acting is neede; they play themselves. Or be yourself. That's why they talk about talent. And luck.

Biomechanics do not ask for sacred treatment. It's not a religion, it's a craft. You don't have to pray, you have to work.

Training: double and multiple existence. Spectator in you would direct actor in you. Director is a professional spectator.

How to train? Understanding, analysis, directions. Co-existence = dialogical nature.

The difference between acting and behavior. Social Roles (Marxism) and social behavior. We act till we make our act into our social nature (behavior). Education is learning how to act socially.

Artistic universe: we start with body (beauty), from diet to body building. "Everything in man must be beautiful." Anton Chekhov. Theatre is only a lab or back stage, preparing us for Life as Theatre. Theatre became a skill training and a developer technology of social behavior. The final product -- not audience even, but us living.

Public Man is doomed to be lonely. He is acting all the time and must be separated from himself.... and his roles become hisselves.

How did media theatricalize our existence?

["All the world's a stage..." a thought at the cash machine.]

What if we would take it literally? Cameras (photo, video, recording) transform any space into a stage: seen, viewing, watched space. ("Smile, you're on Candid Camera!" sign in the liquor store). Who is my public? Stop on the street in front of the electronics store with cameras and monitors at the window. Watching yourself. Something people before me never experienced. My sense of myself and my picture. Great art of the past -- portraits. Mirror world, our reflections are stolen? Mirror or magnifying glass.
My answer, again -- both.

"The teachings of Konstantin Stanislavsky and his disciples changed not only my life," wrote Strasberg, "but that of the entire 20th-century theater. Just as our understanding of human behavior and modern physics is still turning on the revelations of Freud and Einstein, so our contemporary knowledge of the actor's craft is still heavily indebted to Stanislavsky's 100-year-old discoveries. Probably no other name -- beside Shakespeare's -- is heard so often in the theater." Strasberg, A Dream of Passion


Chekhov

[See Method pages in Acting One and Biomechanics directories]

PS

"Let the wisdom of the old guide the buoyancy and vitality of the youth; let the buoyancy and vitality of the youth sustain the wisdom of the old." - Stanislavski

Homework

[ to be updated when I teach Acting III again ]
Next: system
Freud and Method:
Id
As the baby emerges from the womb into the reality of life, he wants only to eat, drink, urinate, defecate, be warm, and gain sexual pleasure. These urges are the demands of the id, the most primitive motivational force. In pursuit of these ends, the id demands immediate gratification: it is ruled by the pleasure principle, demanding satisfaction now, regardless of circumstances and possible undesirable effects. If a young child was ruled entirely by his id, he would steal and eat a piece of chocolate from a store regardless of the menacing owner watching above him or even his parents scolding beside him.

The id will not stand for a delay in gratification. For some urges, such as urination, this is easily satisfied. However, if the urge is not immediately discharged, the id will form a memory of the end of the motivation: the thirsty infant will form an image of the mother's breast. This act of wish-fulfillment satisfies the id's desire for the moment, though obviously it does not reduce the tension of the unfulfilled urge.

Ego
The eventual understanding that immediate gratification is usually impossible (and often unwise) comes with the formation of the ego, which is ruled by the reality principle. The ego acts as a go-between in the id's relations with reality, often suppressing the id's urges until an appropriate situation arises. This repression of inappropriate desires and urges represents the greatest strain on, and the most important function of, the mind. The ego often utilizes defense mechanisms to achieve and aid this repression. Where the id may have an urge and form a picture which satisfies this urge, the ego engages in a strategy to actually fulfill the urge. The thirsty five-year-old now not only identifies water as the satisfaction of his urge, but forms a plan to obtain water, perhaps by finding a drinking fountain. While the ego is still in the service of the id, it borrows some of its psychic energy in an effort to control the urge until it is feasibly satisfied. The ego's efforts at pragmatic satisfaction of urges eventually builds a great number of skills and memories and becomes aware of itself as an entity. With the formation of the ego, the individual becomes a self, instead of an amalgamation of urges and needs.
Superego
While the ego may temporarily repress certain urges of the id in fear of punishment, eventually these external sources of punishment are internalized, and the child will not steal the chocolate, even unwatched, because he has taken punishment, right, and wrong into himself. The superego uses guilt and self-reproach as its primary means of enforcement for these rules. But if a person does something which is acceptable to the superego, he experiences pride and self-satisfaction.

The superego is sub-dividable into two parts: conscience and ego ideal. Conscience tells what is right and wrong, and forces the ego to inhibit the id in pursuit of morally acceptable, not pleasurable or even realistic, goals. The ego ideal aims the individual's path of life toward the ideal, perfect goals instilled by society. In the pursuit, the mind attempts to make up for the loss of the perfect life experienced as a baby. [ + repression ]

Acting Techniques: "Freud eventually abandoned hypnosis as a clinical technique, both because of its fallibility and because he found that patients could recover and comprehend crucial memories while conscious. Using the technique of free association, Freud asked patients to relate anything which came into their mind, regardless of how apparently unimportant or potentially embarrassing the memory threatened to be. This technique assumed that all memories are arranged in a single associative network, and that sooner or later the subject would stumble across the crucial memory. Unfortunately, Freud found that despite a subject's every effort to remember, a certain resistance kept him from the most painful and important memories. He eventually came to understand that certain items were completely repressed, and off-limits to the conscious realm of the mind.
Freud's eventual practice of psychoanalysis focused not so much on the recall of these memories as on the internal mental conflicts which kept them buried deep within the mind, though the technique of free association still plays a role today in the study of the mind." [ Free Association and Freud David B. Stevenson '96, Brown University ]

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"... Freud's early work in psychology and psychoanalysis endeavored to understand and cure the human mind by means of hypnosis. Freud's initial exposure to hypnosis in a clinical setting was over the winter of 1885-1886, when he studied in Paris with Jean-Martin Charcot, a renowned French professor of neurology. Charcot's work centered on the causes of hysteria, a disorder which could cause paralyses and extreme fits. He soon discovered that the symptoms of hysteria could be induced in nonhysterics by hypnotic suggestion and that the symptoms of hysterics could be alleviated or transformed by hypnotic suggestion. This ran contrary to the then-prevalent belief that hysteria had physiological causes; it suggested that a deeper, unseen level of consciousness could affect an individual's conscious conduct.
Freud subsequently collaborated with Josef Breuer, who applied hypnosis not just to cause or suppress the symptoms of hysteria but to actually divine the root causes. In his work with Anna O, he found that by tracing her associations in an autohypnotic state, he could not only find an original repressed incident, but could actually cure her of her symptom. When she related an event to a symptom while in a hypnotic state, her symptom would become terribly powerful and dramatic, but would then be purged, never to trouble her again. This powerful and often traumatic transfer of an memory from the unconscious to the conscious is known as catharsis, an effective method which also seems to corroborate Freud's theories on the mind."

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Libido: "Freud conceived of the mind as having only a fixed amount of psychic energy, or libido. Though the word libido has since acquired overt sexual implications, in Freud's theory it stood for all psychic energy. This energy fueled the thought processes, perception, imagination, memory, and sexual urges. In Freud's theory, the mind, like the universe, could neither create nor destroy energy, but merely transfer it from one form or function to another. Because scope of the mind's capabilities was thus limited by the amount of psychic energy freely available, any process or function of the mind which consumed excess energy debilitated the ability of the mind to function normally. Repression, he held, demanded significant amounts of energy to maintain; even then, a repressed thought might come perilously close to becoming conscious, only to be redirected or defended against by a defense mechanism. As well, a fixation on a past psychosexual stage of development could permanently sap this libidal energy, causing, in the extreme cases, neuroses or worse.
The dynamic interaction between the id, ego and superego, with each contending for as much libidal energy as possible, illustrates the importance of the functions of the mind. A man who invests most of his libidal energy into the cravings of his id will act and live much differently than the man whose guilt-inspiring superego consumes most of his libidal energy. This constantly changing balance and interaction between the various functions of the mind, in Freud's theory, determines personality."

Stanislavsky
Logos and Mythos http://www2.clarku.edu/research/access/vpa/munro/munroD.shtml
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