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"One of the elements [of the spiritual culture of the humanity] is the theatre which is distinctly Russian, whose objective is not to entertain the audience with plays, but to affect directly the viewer's very soul with naturally created life of the human spirit." - K.S. Stanislavsky
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As I said, the table you see on the right (like this one) are for my sidenotes. I have to comment on my own pages in order to improve them.

Historical Comment:
I always hated Stanislavsky's writing, but I teach Method/System. Since I gave up on reading him long ago, you may consider my interpretation as my own brand. What is important that actor should have some tools for self-improvement and I emphasize self.

As a director I suffer seeing so many actors incapable of working with themselves without being directed. I believe in self-directing and that is what I teach in Advanced Acting Classes.

Actors is an artist and every artist is always alone. The only help you can expect is from God and yourself. If lucky, from a director or instructor...

Discussion Lists:

3 Sisters

Dramatic Literature (archives)

Method acting is the general approach to acting used by most modern American actors. This approach is based upon the idea that actors should achieve a detailed emotional identification with their characters. Actors try to think and feel what their characters would think and feel. Method acting tries to help actors create truthful and deeply felt performances.
The major features of Method acting are taken from the teachings of Russian stage director Konstantin Stanislavski. In 1931, the Group Theatre was organized in New York City by Harold Clurman, Lee Strasberg, and Cheryl Crawford. Using Stanislavski's ideas, the Group developed acting techniques over 20 years marked by lively experimentation and passionate debate. In 1947, several former members of the Group founded the Actors Studio as a place where professional actors could continue to refine their skills. Under Strasberg's direction, the Actors Studio became the most influential American home of Method acting.
Robert Lewis was a founder of the Actors Studio. His book Method or Madness (1958) describes many techniques and exercises of Method acting.
Online - Method acting [Article]

System

Summary

One of the elements [of the spiritual culture of the humanity] is the theatre which is distinctly Russian, whose objective is not to entertain the audience with plays, but to affect directly the viewer's very soul with naturally created life of the human spirit. - K.S. Stanislavski

Questions

"The revolution thundered in and made its demands on us. There began a period of new explorations, of reappraisal of the old and the search for new ways. At a time when the new for the sake of the new and the negation of everything that had come before held sway in the theatre, we could not reject out of hand all that was fine in the past ... This link with the past and the eagerness to move to an unknown future, the searching quests of the new theatre - all this helped to keep us from succumbing to the dangerous 'charms' of formalism ... We did not succumb; instead we began our quest for new ways, cautiously but doggedly." - Stanislavski

Notes

"The program for our undertaking was revolutionary. We protested against the old manner of acting and against theatricality, against artificial pathos and declamation, and against affectation on the stage, and inferior conventional productions and decoration, against the star system which had been a bad affect on the cast, against the whole arrangement of plays and against the poor repertoire of the theatres." - Stanislavsky

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Total Actor (2007)

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Method Acting index * 200X * Film Dir * Books * Theatre w/Anatoly * SHOWs * Script Analysis * Acting * Directing * Russian-American Theatre (RAT) * Film Links * My Russian Plays * BioMechanics * Classes Dir * VIRTUAL THEATRE * appendix * links * list * Glossary * Anatoly's Blog *
"Take nothing for granted. Think of your own experiences and use them truthfully."
Stanislavsky Born in Moscow in 1863, Constantin Sergeyevich Stanislavsky had a more profound effect on the process of acting than anyone else in the twentieth century. At age 14, Stanislavsky joined a theatrical group organized by his family, and soon became its central figure. Throughout the late 1800s he improved as an actor and began to produce and direct plays. It was his assertion that if the theater was going to be meaningful it needed to move beyond the external representation that acting had primarily been. Over forty years he created an approach that fore fronted the psychological and emotional aspects of acting. The Stanislavsky System, or "the method," as it has become known, held that an actor’s main responsibility was to be believed (rather than recognized or understood).

To reach this "believable truth", Stanislavsky first employed methods such as "emotional memory." To prepare for a role that involves fear, the actor must remember something frightening, and attempt to act the part in the emotional space of that fear they once felt. Stanislavsky believed that an actor needed to take his or her own personality onto the stage when they began to play a character. This was a clear break from previous modes of acting that held that the actor's job was to become the character and leave their own emotions behind. Later Stanislavsky concerned himself with the creation of physical entries into these emotional states, believing that the repetition of certain acts and exercises could bridge the gap between life on and off the stage.

In his travels throughout the world with the Moscow Arts Theater, Stanislavsky earned international acclaim as an actor, director, and coach. Among his collaborators were the writers Tolstoy and Chekov. While Stanislavsky’s new method of acting supported actors in breaking from the exact lines and actions of the script, it also demanded that they pay closer attention to the important unsaid messages within the writing. This prompted writers such as Chekov to make subtler emotionally alive work.

Today in the United States, Stanislavsky’s theories are the primary source of study for many actors. Among the many great actors and teachers to use his work are Stella Adler, Marlon Brando, Sanford Meisner, Lee Strasberg, Harold Clurman, and Gregory Peck. Many of these artists have continued experimentation with Stanislavsky’s ideas. Among the best known of these proponents is the Actor’s Studio, an organization that has been home to some of the most talented and successful actors of our time. [ PBS ]

Stanislavsky

"The real lesson that Stanislavsky taught does not lie in any of the theories and training methods that bear his name. He knew there were no shortcuts to truthfulness. After the actor has assembled all the external facts about a character and used his imagination to feel what it is like to live within those boundaries, there still remains the difficult task of using these insights to better understand the human condition. The rules are irrelevant. The process is all." Stanislavsky on Home Ground, JOHN ELSOM
The origins of Stanislavsky' System are in naturalism, positivism, even Marxism, photography, Darwin, electricity... Realism became "natural" -- the subtext idea promiced that we can discover everything within the ordinary. Everybody as predicted by Christ became a hero. The "immortal soul" could be brought out by the camera! The turn of the century Theatrical Revolution was anti-theatrical, as Meyerhold understood it after a decade of being a revolutionary; he revolted against The Method (with a new one, Theatrical Theatre). Stanislavsky's gift was to small, studio, theatre -- which is a sound stage, with the professional spectators only. It took fifty years for Method to find its true domain -- the screen...
July 2003. More I work on acting and directing pages, stronger the desire to defend the legacy of Stanislavsky, who doesn't need my or anybody else defense. Did you read "True and False" by Mamet? Read and you can see that even a brilliant man could talk nonsense. So, what is the matter with this "Method Acting"?

First, there is no one techniques of acting and before Stanislavsky there was no system at all. Period. If you do not understand Chekhov and took place in drama of the 20th century, unlikely you can see the need for the new approach in acting. From inside, artistic, psychological. For a change Stanislavsky thought of actors as artists, no less than writers or philosophers. Do we understand it today? I don't think so. We still stress the craft -- and actors themselves do not equate acting with writing...

Actors do not respect themselves. Even in the age of cinema, where their art could be recorded and preserved, they do not behave as authors. The movies, fame and fortune, turn them into celebraties -- when do they have time to think about the art of acting. What could you do with it?

Perhaps the whole thing came to us too early. Another century or two and maybe we will be ready. Look how complicated the theory of musical composition -- and look at actors! Actor is the biggest orchestra one can imagine, but how primitive is acting theories!

Look back at the twenty five centuries of theatre -- what do you see? The history of drama! The true history of theatre is ahead of us -- the history of acting! Do you still question that a performer is the heart of theatre?

You do not want to use the System? Don't. Do whatever you want in hope that somehow one day you will get it. They say that thousand monkeys could type a Shakespeare' sonnet if they keep typing for one thousand years. Go ahead.

In my film classes students often ask my opinion about our movie actors -- the question itself tells me how little they know about filmmaking ... and acting. Fourty years from today, get the best movies of your youth and watch them again. You will understand how bad is the acting of our best. Camera is close and camera is merciless -- it records, and fourty years from now it won't possible to watch them without a smile...

How do I know? Even my favorites (Fellini, Bergman, Kurosawa, see Film & Movies) can stand as directorial discoveries, but acting -- no comments!

I didn't teach Stanislavsky fifteen years ago. I teach Method now because of the fifteen years of experience of teaching acting. They need it -- the system. Why should I invent some new theories and techniques? I simply use what Stanislavsky (and Meyerhold) discovered. There are many things which are still not explored in Stanislavsky (yoga connections, for one); all you need is start here and go further. Please, do.

If I will have time, I want to work on Method, but in Virtual Theatre and The Book of Spectator directions. But this is not a place to talk about it...

Stanislavsky - Floor Plan for Seagull

He is not a director (read Chekhov's letters). He is a head-actor, master-actor -- the old tradition, when the most experienced and smartest does teach the new ones. There are no directors in cirus. Stanislavsky developed his system the under house arrest at the time when Moscow Art Theatre couldn't do anything besides socialist realism. a lot of Russian artists uder Stalin turned to theory in order to stay alive.

Stanislavsky (Alexeyev) wasn't an artist, but a craftsman. His method is not an invention but a discovery of what was used from the beginning of time. "Psychological realism" makes sense because only feelings are the reality. The only material I, the spectator, can use -- my own feelings, memories, experiences. So, Stanislavsky advises actor to do the same.

My dear actor!
Don't wait for your luck -- learn directing to manage yourself in order to direct others -- the public. That is what I do, when I direct shows -- I direct my feelings and thoughts.

When I write plays, I use the same method -- I become a character without forgetting myself. Of course, the character is "me" -- and more. "Identification" is a long word, but the only ground for dramatic experience. It's ME, who must be in the middle of action, I am on stage! Actor uses a role to extend his natural status of being a spectator. He makes an extra step by becoming a new being.

I wish I could have time to translate the best of the century's philosophy into theatrical terms. The existentialists defined it all -- being and becoming, becoming as being an so on. Theatre folks are too busy to read fat books, otherwise they would know the philosophy behind the techniques.

Stanislavsky himself didn't read much and had no idea what Heidegger was writing. But all Russians read Nietzsche and a lot in the Russian Thought follows the tradition of the revolt against modernity and humanity.

Stanislavsky directed Chekhov's plays, didn't he? Chekhov is the great nihilist of all times, the one Nietzsche tried to fight. Chekhov is a demonstration of Nietzsche paradox -- the conflict between Will To Power and the Eternal Return concept.

The Return annihilates TIME and paralyzes WILL. It turns each of us in a babble, when we live in one and only world of SELF.

Obviously, Stanislavsky teaches to study this territory -- the self. Being is Becoming, nothing else. Only Becoming is Being. And here is where "will" is coming into action. It's Self-Willing, getting control over your own Self, known in acting theory is a mastery of emotions, body, voice, etc.

Theatre like everything else is about CONTROL and as every power it starts with the power over yourself. Actor is a master of his own moods! He is happy, when he commands himself to be happy. He is angry when he willing so. He is a creator of his feelings!

What a picture! What a spectacle to watch!

"What exercises resemling solfeggi are needed by him? What scales, what arpeggi for development of creative feeling and experience are required by the actor? They must be given numbers... for systematic exercises in the school and at home. All books and works of the theatre are silent on this score. There is no practical textbook." (My Life in Art, 166-67)

FreudThe connection with Yoga (late Stanislavsky) I will explore in Biomechanics. Here, in Method directory, a few words must be said about connections with Freud.

mind

3 parts/levels: important for many Stanislavsky's concepts. Emotional Recall and Supression.

Also, application for drama theraphy!

"Preconscious" is the less understood term. Maybe, this is place for IDENTIFICATION (where actor meets his character)....

stan-acting [ Left -- Moscow Art Theatre? ]

"The revolution thundered in and made its demands on us. There began a period of new explorations, of reappraisal of the old and the search for new ways. At a time when the new for the sake of the new and the negation of everything that had come before held sway in the theatre, we could not reject out of hand all that was fine in the past ... This link with the past and the eagerness to move to an unknown future, the searching quests of the new theatre - all this helped to keep us from succumbing to the dangerous 'charms' of formalism ... We did not succumb; instead we began our quest for new ways, cautiously but doggedly." - Stanislavsky

biblio on russian theatre

biblio on russian lit Duke *

"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." - Stanislavsky

Stan-old Of course, Bulgakov was making fun of the old man ("Black Snow," I lost the fragments I had on my pages), but he rediculed Meyerhold even more. It's well written and in good spirits (Teatralyny Roman, the original title is better) Besides, Bulgakov has his earned right to parody the "System" -- his play "White Guards" gave a new life to the stagnant in the twenties Moscow Art Theatre. Black Snow -- I do not know if itg's as good as in Russian.

Read other (more known) Bulgakov's books and plays.

Read Anatoly Smelyansky's book on Bulgakov and Moscow Art Theatre...

Using the Moscow Art Theatre as his conduit, Stanislavski developed his own unique system of training wherein actors would research the situation created by the script, break down the text according to their character's motivations and recall their own experiences, thereby causing actions and reactions according to these motivations. The actor would ideally make his motivations for acting identical to those of the character in the script. He could then replay these emotions and experiences in the role of the character in order to achieve a more genuine performance. The 17th Century melodrama Tsar Fyodor was the first production in which these techniques were showcased.

Anton Chekhov Plays

Uncle Vanya (photo): "This structurally and psychologically compact drama takes place on an estate in 19th-century Russia, exploring the complex interrelationships between a retired professor, his second wife, and the daughter and brother-in-law from his first marriage. Interwoven themes of weakness, delusion, and despair–balanced by an underlying message of courage and hope–make this one of the most expressive of Chekhov’s works." Amazon

Chekhov Pages in script.vtheatre.net


Vanya

December 2, 2001 (NYT) "For Russians, Theater Is a Process of Constant Rediscovery" By LAWRENCE SACHAROW

... Stanislavsky said: "There is no system. There is only nature. My lifelong concern has been how to get ever closer to the so-called system, that is, to get ever closer to the nature of creativity."

[ the full article, recomm. ]

Next: method
"What we need is a new kind of theatre... We need new forms.... I don't want to show life how it is, or the way it should be, but the way it is in dreams." Treplyov/Meyerhold, The Seagull (1898) -- read Chekhov Pages *

"Whatever thread one takes up in the history of twentieth-century drama leads back to Stanislavsky." James Roose-Evans

"Stanislavsky and Meyerhold, the two great Russian theatrical innovators of the twentieth century, had a curious relationship. They first worked together in 1898 at the inception of the Moscow Art Theatre. Stanislavsky was the 37 years old co-founder of the Art Theatre, and Meyerhold at 24 was one of the young actors invited to join the troupe. Meyerhold, amid controversy, left the group in 1902 and formed his own company in the provinces where he attempted new symbolist staging along with the more conventional theatrical techniques he had learned at the MAT." Stanislavsky and Meyerhold: Art and Politics in the Russian Theatre, 1898-1938

"Stanislavsky was the great innovator of the pre-Revolutionary era. His work as a director and acting theorist may be considered the theatrical culmination of the Russia's Golden Age of Art begun in the mid-nineteenth century, combining realism with a progressive social message. He was a descendent of Gogal, Ostrovsky, Shchepkin, and Tolstoy - an artistic heritage manipulated,distorted and made grotesque by the socialist realists in the 1930's. He was able to achieve great artistic heights in an era of alternating lifting and pressing of tzarist oppression at the beginning of the century. His art was an art of subtlety and nuance. He and his artistic theories were able to survive under the Imperial,the Revolutionary and the Soviet systems.

Meyerhold, the great innovator of the 1920's, brought to fruition the goals of the Russian aesthetic movement begun in the 1890's, Russia's Silver Age of Art." http://rutheater.home.att.net/stana.htm

more on Russian Theatre @ rutheater.home.att.net: "There have been only a handful of periods in world cultural history when the theater was the leading form-Athens of the 5th century BC, Elizabethan England, and Russia/the Soviet Union from the 1890s to the 1930s. This web site is dedicated to the Russian theater of Stanislavsky and Meyerhold, Chekhov, Mayakovsky and Bulgakov, Malevich and Tatlin, Stravinsky and Shostakovich." [ Commentary: Andrew Wachtel, Northwestern University + Developer: Michael Denner, Stetson University ]

Stanislavsky
"It was with a feeling of deep emotion and joy that we entered Stanislavski's house: a tall old man with snow white hair rose from the arm chair to greet us. It was enough for us to converse with Stanislavski just 5- 10 minutes to come away feeling like a new born person, cleansed of all that might be 'bad' in art." - Khmelyov

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