Stanislavski built a name for himself through his acting techniques and performances. From the start of his acting career, he carefully made notes about his performances. He studied his own, and other peoples work and created a standard of acting that had many critics at their knees, lost for comment. Not only did he become chairman of the Russian Music Society in 1886 but he also worked with the likes of the great play writer Anton Chekhov on his most important works.
Stanislavski changed how many viewed acting. Many people simply assumed that acting was simply a matter of being natural; but Stanislavski discovered that acting realistically onstage is extremely artificial and difficult. He wrote: A?A?All of our acts, even the most simple of all, which are so familiar to us in everyday life, become strained when we appear behind the footlights before a public of a thousand people. That is why it is necessary to correct ourselves and learn again how to walk, sit or lie down.
It is essential to re-educate ourselves to look and see, on the stage, to listen and to hear. A?A¦ To achieve this form of re-education, Stanislavski believed that the actor / actress must believe in everything that takes place onstage, and most of all, must believe what the actor / actress themselves is doing. A?A?And one can only believe in the truth. A?A¦ So that his ideas had substance, Stanislavski studied how people act in everyday life and how they communicated feelings and emotions. He then found ways to accomplish the same things onstage.
From his experiences and observations, he compiled a series of principles and techniques, which today are regarded as fundamental to both the training and the performance of actors and actresses who want to create a believable character on stage. His exercises and techniques, followed the following broad aims: a€zh To make the outward behaviour of the performer A?V gestures, voice, and rhythm of movements natural and convincing. a€zh To have the actor / actress convey the goals and objectives A?V the inner needs of a character.
Even if all the visible manifestations of a character are mastered, a performance will appear superficial and mechanical without a deep sense of conviction and belief. To make the life of the character onstage not only dynamic but also continuous. Some performers tend to emphasise only the high points of a part; in between, the life of the character stops. In real life however, people do not stop living. a€zh To develop a strong sense of ensemble playing with other performers in a scene. There were also other points that Stanislavski paid attention to whilst directing, or taking part in a performance.
Relaxation Stanislavski noted that all great actors and actresses had fluid and lifelike movements. It showed them to be in a complete state of freedom and relaxation, letting the behaviour of the character come through effortlessly. He concluded that all unwanted tension has to be eliminated and that the performer should remain in total physical and vocal relaxation. Concentration and Observation Gifted performers also showed to be fully concentrated on one particular object, person or event whilst on stage.
Stanislavski referred to the extent or range of concentration as a circle of attention. This circle of attention can be compared to the circle of light or dark on a stage. Aperformer starts concentrating on being within a small tight circle, containing only themselves and perhaps something or someone else. Once this is established, they can widen their circle of attention to include the whole stage area. This way the actor / actress worries less about the audience and concentrates more on their character. Importance of Specifics Stanislavski concentrated on emphasising concrete details.
He believed that a performer should never try to act in general, and should never try and conveya feeling such as fear or love in a vague, amorphous way. A?A? In life, we express emotions in terms of specificsA?A¦ Examples: A nervous woman fiddles with here necklace An angry boy throws a rock at a trash can The preformer must also conceive of the situation in which a character exists in term of specifics. In concrete terms, these questions should be answered: In what kind of place does the event take placeA?K formal?
Informal? Public? Domestic? How does it feel? What is the temperature? Lighting? What has gone on just before? What is expected in the moments ahead? Inner Truth This deals with the internal or subjective world of the characters. Their thoughts and emotions. There were several ways that Stanislavski thought he could achieve this sense of inner truth, one of them being the magic A?A?ifA?A¦. A?A?IfA?A¦ is a word that can transform our thoughts, through it we ca imagine ourselves in virtually every situation. A?A?if I became wealthyA?KA?A¦ A?A?if I had asked themA?KA?A¦ . f they come here againA?KA?A¦ The word A?A?ifA?A¦ can lift us out of ourselves and take us into other positions giving us a sense of absolute certainty about imaginary circumstances. Action Onstage An important principle on how Stanislavski worked was that all actions on stage must have a purpose. This means the performers attention must always be concentrated on a series of physical actions, linked together by the circumstances of the play. He determined these actions by asking three essential questions about the particualr actions: What? Why? How?
Through Line of a Role According to Stanislavski, I order to develop continuity in a part, the actor or actress should find the super objective of a character. What is it, above all else, that the character wants during the course of the play? From this objective can be developed a through line which can be grasped. To help develop the through line, Stanislavski urged performers to divide scenes into units, or beats. In each unit there is an objective, and the intermediate objectives running through a play lead ultimately to the overall objective. Ensemble Playing Unless involved in a monologue, performers do not act alone. They interact.
Stanislavski noted, that when characters did not hold the main spotlight, they often came out of character. Such characters made a great effort whilst speaking but little when listening. This tendency destroys the through line causing the performer to move in and out of role. This in turn weakens the sense of the ensemble A?V the playing together of all performers. The Use of Psychophysical Action Stanislavski began to develop his techniques in the early part of the twentieth century, and at first he emphasized the inner aspects of training: for example, various ways of getting in touch with the performer"s unconscious.
Beginning around 1917, however, he began to look more and more at purposeful action, or what he called pyshophysical action. An action which has a purpose, and leads to feelings about the action taken. A?A?Whereas action previously had been taught as the expression of a previously- established "emotional state," it is now action itself which predominates and is the key to the psychological. A?A¦ Rather than seeing emotions as leading to action, Stanislavski came to believe that it was the other way around: purposeful action undertaken to fulfill a character"s goals was the most direct route to the emotions.
Example: A character is sitting at a dinner table. All of a sudden the character quickly stands up and throws the plate at the wall, thus causing more anger in the character. Rather than just trying to be mad, the character made an angry motion, throwing a plate, that made the anger greater. As stated, StanislavskiA?A¦s techniques are derived from truth. The performer creates and brings the character to life through the truth surrounding them. To me, this is the perfect way to portray a character in a true and lifelike manner.
However, Stanislavski does not look into other ways to portray a character. In a way, what you see is what you get. Actions choosing the pathways of a life of a character. I like more abstract acting, where you are showing a character through different means. Not just acting the character and their surroundings out but creating and displaying perhaps their inner most thoughts and feelings. This is more colourful than the black and white acting exercises of Stanislavski.
When showing just the character, although being portrayed correctly and showing all truth, to me this can be like looking across a flat field. There are no variations. When more abstract acting is added, the audience can become more involved in the piece in other ways and see things in different lights. StanislavskiA?A¦s methods are perfect to create characters, but I myself wouldnA?A¦t base all of my performance on his teachings. I would certainly use his workings but not rely on them too heavily and make sure to involve my own variants.