Konstantin Stanislavski

Acting as an art has a long history in its development.  Acting as an art, attracts a large audience. It acts as one of the arts that bring people together regardless of their social, economic or education class. Acting therefore becomes a medium that can be used in educating the masses on various issues. It can be used to enlighten the masses on their political, social and economic rights. These are some the perspectives that most actors have taken in their works. Many theories have been developed in trying to make acting be more focused and be able to represent the real issues in the real life. The system theory developed by Konstantine Sergeyevich Stanislavski and the method acting theory developed by Lee Strasberg have been the most popular theories that have been employed in acting by many actors. This paper will look at various aspects and application of the two theories in various contexts and places.

Konstantin Sergeyevich Stanislavski (1863 – 1938) was a theatre director in Russia. He developed his system theory in the 1890’s during the boxer rebellion wars. Most of the western and American performances have their foundation from his innovative contribution. He developed his realistic techniques into coherent and usable systems. His system made unprecedented ability of go beyond cultural boundaries and developed to make international reach. (Jean 2-3).

Stanislavski’s system is a way or an approach used in acting which was deviced by Konstantin Stanislavski who was a director and an actor in Russia and Moscow art theatre administrator. (Jean 2-3). He developed this system in his efforts to find out how the intangible and the uncontrollable issues of a person behavior, for example, emotions and inspiration in arts could be controlled. This system became the foundation of most famous teachers in acting. This system has an aspect of the actor being in the moment. The actors are always one step from the complete belief. Stanislavski found it necessary that the actor should remain detached despite the fact that he or she shows the emotions of a character. The system has a flexible structure which can be modified. The flexible structure of this system makes it be used by actors as much or as little as they can. 

The techniques of this system involve a round table analysis. This is a process by which the actors and the director sit round a table where they put across their ideas concerning the script and its characters until they reach a clear understanding. The system has home work, which involves the breaking of the scripts into parts which have different objectives. The objectives are different for each of the actor who is involved. In this system the structure of the entire script would include the final objective of the main character. It is not a must that this goal must be attained, and it should also be as simple as one wish. There is the obstacle, which is the hindrance that would make the character achieve his or her goal. There is the tool and method, which include the various techniques that a character uses to attain his or her goals. Then finally in the structure there is the action which involves what the character is going to say or do. He had a belief that if the homework is completed then the desired emotion is created. (Robert 37-40).

He started developing grammar of acting in 1906. He developed the  system theory as a result of the inquiries he wanted to make regarding the great actors that he admired, for example, Maria Yermolova who seemed to act in different rules than the other actors. His main objective was to develop some codified, systematic approach that would make an impact to any actor.

He held that one is supposed to approach a role in a direct way as possible to find out if the role exists. If there is a connection between the role and the actor, then the role exists. Despite this there is a need, for each actor to find out if a certain approach fits him. The formalization of Psychology made big impacts in Stanislavski’s system. His system is a complex method which produces realistic characters. This is evidenced by most of characters that we see on stage. By use of the system an actor is supposed to make analyses of his motivation. There is a need for the actor to discover the objective of the character in each scene and the overall goal of the whole play. This brings connection of the choice of objective by the actor from scene to scene. (Robert 37-40).

His principle theory of acting has an aspect of psychological realism. According to him acting is supposed to teach an actor on the way to produce natural actions consciously. This means that acting should make the actor subconscious creative self for its super conscious organic creativeness be awakened in a conscious way. According to his theory, the inner experience must be accompanied by outer physical expression. If in any way an actor shows only the physical actions, this is against the psycho- physical union. This makes her performance to be mechanical. Stanislavski was against mechanical acting and aimed at developing a real scenic truth by the examination of the psychological aspects of life. This is possible by manipulation of the subconscious through the conscious physical actions. (Robert 37-40).

His system theory made great success as compared to other systems. His work made also influence in the creation of social realism in USSR. Social realism was a method that was employed in arts in making them more real. This made the arts have a purpose or make meaning that would enhance socialism and communism. His work could not make a separation of his theatrer from the social context.  According to his view theatre was a medium by which great social and education impact would be made to the masses. He took theater as part of education institution where people were supposed not only to be entertained but also enlightened. He reflected a lot of social issues in his work. The Soviet Union maintained their allegiance to Stanislavski ideologies and his conscious method of film production (Rose 238).

The Moscow art theatre is a theatrer company found in Moscow Russia. It was founded by Konstantin Stanislavski in 1897. It was conceived as a venue of naturalistic theatre. This was in contrast with the melodramas which was the dominant theatre form in Russia during that moment. It was formed with the objective of bringing new reforms and approach in theatre acting (Jean 2-3). The theatrer made great success in its productions. It was one of the most supported theatres in the Soviet Union, and it worked with most of the famous Russian and western play writers. It produced prominent actors who received most awards in the USSR. In the year 1987, the theater broke into two i.e. the Checkov Moscow Art Theater and the Gorky Moscow Art theatre. The theatre continues to operate with most of the original principles of the system theory still used its work.

Lee Strasberg
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