Konstantin Stanislavski

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Konstantin (Constantin) Stanislavski (Константин Сергеевич Станиславский / Алексев) (January 5, 1863 - August 7, 1938) was a Russian theatre and acting innovator.

Born Constantin Sergeievich Alexeyev in Moscow to a wealthy family, Constantin made his first acting appearance at the age of seven. He took the stage-name Stanislavski early in his career (possibly to preserve the reputation of his family.) In some translations his name is written: Konstantin Stanislavsky.

In 1888 Stanislavski established the Society of Art and Literature at the Maly Theatre, where he gained experience in aesthetics and stagecraft.

In 1898 he co-founded the Moscow Art Theatre (MAT) with Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko. The company's first production was Anton Chekhov's The Seagull. It was at MAT that Stanislavski- based on the realist tradition of Aleksandr Pushkin- began developing his famous "System" (often called the "Method", though this is an inaccuracy; method acting was developed from it). "The System" would later be adapted by Lee Strasberg in the United States. Stanislavski's System focused on the development of realistic characters and stage worlds. Actors were instructed to utilise their "emotion memory" in order to naturally portray a characters emotions. In order to do this actors were required to think of a moment in their own lives when they had felt, for example, sad and then replay the emotion in role in order to achieve a more genuine performance.

Using "The System" actors were required to deeply analyse their characters motivations. They had to discover the characters Objective in each scene, and Super Objective for the entire play.

One way of doing this was using Stanislavski's "magic if". Actors were required to ask many questions of their characters and themselves. For example, one of the first questions they had to ask was, "What if I was in the same situation as my character?"

Stanislavski's System is a complex method for producing realistic characters; most of today's actors, on stage, television, and film, owe much to it.

Stanislavski also had an impact on modern opera and boosted the works of writers such as Maxim Gorki and Anton Chekhov.

Stanislavski survived both the 1905 and 1917 Russian Revolutions with Lenin apparently intervening to protect him. In 1918 Stanislavski established the First Studio as a school for young actors and wrote several works: those available in English include, An Actor Prepares, Building a Character, Creating a Role and the biography My Life in Art.

See also

ru:Станиславский, Константин Сергеевич

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