Seated to the left of Chekhov is Konstantin Stanislavski, founder of the Moscow Art Theatre Group and director of The Seagull. Beside him is Olga Knipper who. Konstantin Sergeievich Stanislavski was a seminal Russian theatre practitioner. He was widely Both his struggles with Chekhov's drama (out of which his notion of subtext emerged) and his experiments with . Stanislavski's lifelong relationship with Vsevolod Meyerhold began during these rehearsals; by the end of June. This advice had deep meaning for Stanislavsky since he recorded it in his notebook. Stanislavsky characterized his relationship with Danchenko and their meeting Chekhov's The Seagull was one of only two ventures that.
Their agreement and their relationship would be tested severely in the years to come. A barn in Pushkino was adapted to suit their purposes Magarshack, Life The season brought up a struggle between Stanislavsky and Danchenko that was worked out amenably. Stanislavsky wrote a letter praising the classical plays but questioning the wisdom of staging the modern plays. I saw the great company MAT when it was still in its golden age of creativity. Whatever their differences, these two iconoclasts were united on one thing: Their shared fight against the excesses of Russian theatre, as they saw them, was also a movement towards realism in theatre that had been coming through the likes of Shchepkin for a long time Benedetti, Life In the next eight years, Stanislavsky and Danchenko had their greatest successes in the plays of Anton Chekhov.
Without it, their theatre might well have failed Chekhov was a master of the psychological drama Wickham He paid less attention to the psychology of the Chekhov characters and more attention to the details of the set, costumes and the blocking of his actors Magarshack It was Danchenko who patiently tried to interest Stanislavsky in the play but his explanations were mostly literary and escaped Stanislavsky The consummate showman came out in Stanislavsky.
To direct The Seagull, [He] developed a technique which was purely external. He had to work from the outside in the hope that by establishing truthfully the external characteristics of the role he could provoke some intuitive response in himself which led him to the psychological aspects of the part.
His approach as a director was identical. At the end of the first act, the audience demanded five curtain calls. The way he directed Chekhov had its price, which could be described in this way.
His actors were not creating; they were manipulated. Yet, this exacting process served Stanislavsky well in a string of successes in plays from outstanding playwrights like Chekhov, Ibsen and Gorky Benedetti His period of success came to a full stop with the death of Anton Chekhov on July 15th, I felt that our position was hopeless. My heart was beating fast. For some reason it made me think of a family hearth; I felt a warm glow over me. I felt at home on the stage.
The Chekhov characters came to life. But these instances of luck were not dependable, and he new it Stanislavsky, Life Then came a production of Julius Caesar in When the work of that Studio finally went into production, the acting fell apart. Stanislavsky hid the flaws of actors in his earlier productions, but without Stanislavsky to pull the strings, his actors were not up to the challenge.
However, his triumph was undercut when he began to feel cold and dead in the role He was also troubled that the young actors of the MAT could not perform up to his standards without a director who could control their performances completely. These experiences raised doubts about the efficacy of how he and the MAT had chosen to work.
From these seeming dead ends, a nagging doubt hit home for Stanislavsky, I had acquired through my experience as an actor a rag-bag of material on theatrical technique. Rough matter had to be worked and polished and laid as the foundation stones of our art. It is important to understand how these books came to be. The books are presented as a dialogue between a master teacher Tortsov and a class full of students.
Its details were things he would struggle to formulate for the rest of his life Benedetti, Actor xx. Here is a summary of his thoughts about acting techniques as found in his books. She called them tools and gave each a specific section. For certain techniques that are controversial or have important alternate interpretations from other teacher practitioners, I will add further references from those teacher practitioners I will include additional commentary by them.
This will provide for an historical context as it pertains to acting theory from Stanislavski onward. In the following section for clarity I will underline a technique the first time it is listed. Thereafter, I will capitalize the first letter of each of them throughout this treatise unless they are within a quotation.
One way that Stanislavsky bridged the gap between the body and the mind was through the Method of Physical Action. But he broke the division down further to the internal, external work on the actor and the role. The internal and external work of an actor on himself; 2.
He added detail to this inner and outer work: The inner work of an actor consists in perfecting a psychological technique which will enable him to put himself, when the need arises, in the creative state, which invites the coming of inspiration.
The external work of an actor on himself consists in preparing his bodily apparatus to express the role physically and to translate his inner life into stage terms. Bella Merlin in The Complete Stanislavsky Toolkit uses a phrase to unite this effort of control over body and mind. She calls it Psycho-Physicality. So, I bury my head in my hands: A body that is capable of Relaxation and free of tension is the first step to the end of expressing Action.
Many of his notes were concerned with Action Merlin, Toolkit Stanislavsky found that his work was often invigorated by a small Action, I could quote innumerable instances which have occurred in my own experience.
These things necessarily call for a small but real actions because they are intrusions emanating from real life. Another Element is Justification.
There is a reason for every Action on stage, from removing a piece of lint from a gown to strangling a mortal enemy. The characteristics must have a reason, a basis in the total life of the person, they must be justified. Concentration is not only critical for the actor as he works to focus on the reality on stage while he stands in front of a live audience; Concentration is also invaluable for directing the audiences attention to issues critical to the play It is riveted to things that interest a person.
Another Element that deepens life on stage is Imagination. Art is a product of the imagination. In stating this, Stanislavsky conveniently defines what we understand acting to be.
In acting we use our imagination to assign reality to, conditions, situations and states which are not real to lend an imagined reality to what is not literally true. If takes the words of the author off the page and places them in a personal context for the actor. For example, If I were a legless man in the wheel chair underneath an overpass, what would I do? Stanislavsky shows how If bridges the gap between the actor and the text: If allows us to take the Given Circumstances from the play and ask, what if those Given Circumstances were a reality for me?
This is a key term for future sections of the paper. Emotion Memory will have great significance when I analyze the work of Lee Strasberg and the rest of the teacher practitioners.
According to Merlin, these six questions were underplayed in the English translation of An Actor Prepares.
During her acting training in Russia, they were emphasized. Benedetti lists the Six Fundamental Questions in this way: Where have I just come from? What am I doing?
Konstantin Stanislavski - Wikipedia
When is this happening? What time of day, month, year? Emotion Memory goes by different names. It has been called affective memory, emotion recall and sense memory Merlin, Toolkit It also created a rift between Strasberg and the two other teacher practitioners, Adler and Meisner Benedetti, Introduction Stanislavsky first came across the term Affective Memory in the work of the psychologist Theodule Ribot in his, Problemes de Psychologie Affective Benedetti, Introduction Benedetti relates the psychological theory behind the term, According to his theories, the nervous system bears the traces of all previous experiences.
They are recorded in the mind although not always available. An immediate stimulus — a touch, a sound, a smell — can trigger off the memory.
It is possible to recreate past events, to relive past emotions, vividly. Not only that; similar experiences tend to merge. The memory of a particular incident can evoke memories of similar incidents, similar feelings. Experiences of love, hate, envy, fear, come together, they are distilled so that an individual can experience an overwhelming emotion apparently unrelated to any particular event.
If the sensory input heat, cold, noise that surrounded a moment of great emotion could be recalled, then the sensations could trigger the intense emotion to occur in the actor Benedetti, Introduction Through Emotion Memory Stanislavsky found a way to reach into an area of the mind that could not be controlled directly, the subconscious, and encourage it to hold forth emotions and, therefore, inspired acting as he defined it Stanislavski, Life They are to imagine there is a lunatic at the door trying to get in.
The students attempted to repeat the exercise with as much energy and dismay as they did the first time they performed it.
It is not surprising that novices like you should have felt it and at the same time that you should have proved that you have a good memory for external action. As for emotion memory: Tortsov then clarifies the difference between Sense Memory and Emotion Memory.
Sense Memory is recalling the sensations around the Emotional Memory, not the original emotional moment itself He also lays out the potential that Emotion Memory has to access nature, or one could say, the nature that is present fully in our subconscious. I have seen many famous technical actors of many schools and many lands, in my day, and none of them could reach the height to which artistic intuition, under the guidance of nature, is capable of ascending.
We must not overlook the fact that many important sides of our complex nature are neither known to us nor subject to our conscious direction. Only nature has access to them.
II. CONSTANTIN STANISLAVSKY, THE MOSCOW ART THEATRE, AND THE “SYSTEM”
Unless we enlist her aid we must be content with only a partial rule over our complicated creative apparatus. Strasberg called that version The Method. Solving this image-body gap is where the NMCA begins the journey.
These three sets of tools represent all of the basic energy patterns Chekhov identified. They are as essential to human expression as the scales are to music. If we accept that energy is always in motion, we see the PPEs as the most primal ways in which energy moves. They can answer questions about that motion: What is the most basic pattern of motion?
Expanding or Contracting 1a. All energy is doing one or the other. Each variation of the term alters the image, creating an infinite variety of uses and meanings of this most basic energy pattern. Scrooge may start contracted at a three, expanding to an eight when a Ghost appears and contracting back to a five when he sees his past. How does this energy expand or contract? What is the Quality of the Movement?
Every character could be seen as dominated by one of these four. Scrooge may fly into an expansion and mold into a contraction, and each Ghost may move with a different quality to help distinguish them from each other. Why does the energy expand or contract in such a way? This is expressed as Archetypal Gestures AGs 1c. Thus, the AG is a big move we do with a specific intention, such as: These are acts of pure will, free of any thinking, no rationale, no consequences or feeling no emotional attachment.
This will provide three important outcomes: Archetypal Gesture gets the objective off the page and into the body of the actor. Archetypal Gesture clears the inhibitions that prevent an actor from using the archetypal gesture effectively.
Archetypal Gesture prepares the actor to create an original Psychological Gesture for a specific character. Here is a video showing actors practicing a variety of Archetypal Gestures. They are done imagining how an energy body is moving the intention beyond the physical form into the space. This makes the technique useful both for broad and subtle styles. The PPEs teach the actor to engage the natural energy patterns we may have never developed, helping us express any possible way of moving.
Michael was a very gentle, soft-spoken actor frustrated with his failure to book his auditions. He was a six-foot five, very dark-skinned African-American body builder, constantly auditioning for physically dominating and aggressive characters like bodyguards, cops and bullies. But he had avoided expressing aggression in his life for so long that he was afraid he might lose control of it when acting.
His own energy body was small and gentle. After practicing the Smash Gesture, Michael learned how to instantly turn on his aggression while acting and turn it off when done. Within one year he was fully supporting his family as an actor. Learning to do these three foundational tools will restore to the artist all possible ways for characters to move. These tools release the psychophysical blocks of the everyday personality of the artist.
Comparing these to the scales that musicians practice throughout their careers, actors who practice the PPEs regularly are ready to perform any role. Michael Chekhov offers several ways to resolve this fear and awaken artistic feelings. He relies on imagination and movement, instead of painful memory recall, substitution of personal relationships and transference of personal conditions. The main tools to awaken artistic feelings are the Three Sister Sensations, Qualities and Sensations, and Atmospheres.
The Three Sister Sensations of Equilibrium 2 examine gravity as the law of physics that most affects us. The tool can be applied three ways: Chekhov was working on this element when he died, in Olga is Falling yielding to gravityMasha is Balancing teetering, struggling against gravity and Irina is Floating weightlessly free of gravity.
Falling is the energy of yielding to gravity without the fight to maintain balance. Balancing is the high-tension energy of excitement and fear that fights the fall and struggles for balance. We want to not fall. We are, therefore, struggling to achieve balance. When balance is achieved the story ends. The video clip shows actors playing with the different relationships to gravity, in large abstract movements and more subtle ones.
Beth Perksy, Artist 1. Monty Donald, Artist 2. Michelle Cuneo, Artist 3. Matthew Franklin, Artist 4. Lisa Dalton leads participants through the Michael Chekhov Workout, reviewing and improvising with tools in the sequence of the Chart of Inspired Action.
Participants have a range of experience from a month to several years of play. Move with a quality of caution. Simply gazing at our hand and moving it cautiously, we soon experience a sense of danger and begin to breathe cautiously, speak cautiously. Very likely, we will soon feel fear.
This very subtle means of activating emotional states includes our breath. When we walk with rage, breathe the breath of rage and move our foot with a quality of rage, we will most likely feel rage.
Even if we do not actually feel rage, we certainly look and sound like we do; so the audience will feel for us. And this is our actual artistic task. Bambi is not actually feeling anything when his mom dies. Bambi is a cartoon. It is the audience who must feel the sadness.
Atmosphere 4 is the energy in a space that results from the combination of the elements of that place plus the events happening in the space. Atmospheres permeate the audience and unite them with the story. Atmospheres linger in the soul of the audience.
Absence of atmosphere results in the story being quickly forgotten. If you think of a great event you attended years ago, you will likely recall two things about it. One will be a memorable moment that sparkles in your mind.
You will not recall a whole lot of specific details, but one or two jewels will glitter in your memory. That is the atmosphere. Clint Eastwood, a Chekhov student, is the director who most uses atmospheres in each of his films. Personal Atmospheres is the name for another type of atmosphere, the human aura.
Imagine that each character carries an air of or essence of something in their personal kinesphere. Each character in a TV series has a particular personal atmosphere different from the others that serves as a source of conflict and attraction, even when they share the same overall atmosphere, such as a tense newsroom.
Chekhov also gives us a means to access the higher world of feelings present in all peak performances: The Four Brothers of Art: Ease, Beauty, Form and Entirety 5. These four concepts unite the artistic nature with practical applications for surviving the challenges of life.
Full embrace of these perceptions, as a Zen-like practice, keeps the artist stable and healthy through all crises. The Four Brothers can be the frame in which the picture of your life unfolds. Anet was cast in a cable show and expected to wear shear lingerie. Anet was very self-conscious of her stunning figure. She was playing a sensual character appearing on a TV monitor. It would shoot in Brussels in three days. She faced multiple challenges.
She was hired for thirteen episodes, only three were written.