Stanislavski: An Introduction (Theatre Arts Book) by Jean Benedetti

By Jean Benedetti

Jean Benedetti's Stanislavski is the clearest and so much succinct clarification of Stanislavski's writings and ideas, in particular these within the Stanislavski's performing trilogy – An Actor Prepares, development a personality, and making a Role – a staple of each actor's library. Now to be had in an enticing re-creation, Stanislavski: An advent offers the best consultant throughout the Master's writing.

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His own account of his early career in My Life in Art must be read with caution. More than an autobiography, it is a justification of the System. His achievements prior to the birth of the System in 1906 are therefore played down, and it is difficult to gain any proper sense of the very great eminence he had achieved by the end of the century. On more than one occasion he had been invited to join the Maly and refused, but none the less made guest appearances with the most distinguished members of the company.

He concludes with a question: * SS Vol. 1, p. 250. † Ibid. * When, four years later, he came to direct Gorki’s The Lower Depths he adopted the opposite approach. The result was, in his view, a failure. He was too aware of the political and social importance of the play and nothing got over the footlights. † This they would derive from the total production. ‡ The meaning of the events presented on stage must be transparent. § A theatre, conceived not as a histrionic showcase but as a place in which to promote understanding, demanded that the actor see himself and his particular creative contribution as part of an ensemble.

But the detail must be characteristic and typical of whatever you want the audience to see. That is why Naturalism is poisonous to the theatre. * In insisting on the social function of the theatre Stanislavski placed himself within a tradition that went back far beyond Gogol. Peter the Great created theatres expressly to further his campaign for the westernisation of his kingdom. His successor, Catherine the Great, went one step further, writing plays, which were performed, anonymously, with the overt intention of educating her people.

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