"Theatre is not a mirror but a magnifying glass." Mayakovsky
BioMX and Formalism BioMX Acting

TOPICS: drama + comedy + postmodern + time + space + theory + BioMethod + objectives & obctacles + film + students + theatre w/anatoly +
"My play wasn't written for this box. My play was written for small men locked in a big space." ~ Samuel Beckett - on television of "Waiting for Godot"
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FILM act Kabuki -- Eisenstein: Indeed, another feature of the Kabuki style of performance which appealed to Eisenstein concerned what he described as the principle of "disintegrated" acting; a style which relies upon 'fragments' of acting functioning in complete dissociation from one another.

The Kabuki actor would, for example, in one moment act with only his left arm and then, at another moment act with only his neck and head. The body would thus effectively break-up into 'shots' and, in accordance with the principles of dialectical montage, as these'shots' or pieces of acting became shorter so the dramatic power of the tragic end would accelerate and intensify.

Theory of Spectatorship
THR221 Intermediate Acting
GeoAlaska: Acting, Directing, Theory, Shows, Books
GeoAlaska: Theatre & Film
Meyerhold, Directing Books

Spring 2003: Don Juan

film books
virtual theatre
THR121 Fundamentals of Acting Fall 2004
Directing Showcases
ShowCases: 3 Sisters, Mikado, 12th Night, Hamlet, The Importance of Being Earnest, Dangerous Liaisons, Don Juan
prof. Anatoly Antohin Theatre UAF AK 99775 USA
2006 *
* stageplays *
Performability versus Readability theatre-semio
BioMX ANT theatre
BioMX Forum
I reconsidered my views on the level two of Acting Classes I teach. THR221 Intermediate Acting I plan to stress the Biomechanics, which are to be introduced in THR121 Fundamentals of Acting, along with the Method. In Advanced Acting the focus is on the system by Stanislavsky System.

It will take time to sort out the old pages in Acting Directory @ Theatre w/Anatoly and I plan to keep it for the Method Acting (both the Fundamentals and the Advanced). Maybe I will focus the Advanced Method at Method Acting for Directors.

No, it's not a coinsidence that BM was born during the era of Formalism; the attention to forms, the true expression of ideas. The same with Picasso or Malevich -- forms are the ideas! Especially, in theatre, sir.

2004 & After

Images: Rodchenko, Malevich, Popova. Jakobson:

The object of study in literary science is not literature but "literariness," that is, what makes a given work a literary work. Meanwhile, the situation has been that historians of literature act like nothing so much as policemen, who, out to arrest a certain culprit, take into custody (just in case) everything and everyone they find at the scene as well as any passers-by for good measure. The historians of literature have helped themselves to everything— environment, psychology, politics, philosophy. Instead of a science of literature, they have worked up a concoction of homemade disciplines. They seem to have forgotten that those subjects pertain to their own fields of study—to the history of philosophy, the history of culture, psychology, and so on, and that those fields of study certainly may utilize literary monuments as documents of a defective and second-class variety among other materials.

Jameson: everything in the work of art exists for the work of art to come into existence itself in the first place


Kiebuzinska writes: "To protect the political revolutionary and scientific concerns of the new society, Meyerhold worked out techniques for actors which he called "bio-mechanics". He considered this theory to be a projection into the theatre of the scientific spirit motivating the life of the Soviet Union at a time when the "machine" had become a symbol of a new society. ... Attention to physiology rather than psychology had to do with the movement away from the monistic concept of the individual towards the collective view, the notion that the individual lives on in the collective memory." (1988:53)


formalism sources *

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One Act Fest
Connections with German Expressionism and Italian Futurism [ no, I am not about to make another page about structuralism or constructivism -- I have to dump everything here! ] When Church Became Theatre Print ISBN 0195143418, 2002 -- when Theatre Became Church (XX century) (read -- review)


"Theatre should not mirror reality but should transcend the common place of everyday life by deliberately exaggerating and distorting reality through stylized theatrical techniques." [Roose-Evans, 1989] FABULA (or "story"). A term belonging to the study of prose, fabula designates the raw material which will be processed to become a narrative. The story is the purely chronological series of events, which will be recounted, in the order in which they took place, which is not necessarily the order of the narration. The fabula will be organised into siuzhet to become a narrative.

SIUZHET (or "plot"). The siuzhet is the narrative counterpart of the fabula or story before it is being told and like fabula refers to prose. The siuzhet is purely literary. It is an artistic construct, whereas fabula is the chronological string of events. Siuzhet organises fabula using delays, digressions, chronological disruptions, etc. In fact defamiliarisation is the key concept: the siuzhet is the defamiliarising narrative version of the fabula.

MATERIAL/DEVICE VS. CONTENT/FORM. Russian Formalism reacts against the deeply-rooted notion that content is superior to form which is merely seen as a recipient. In the first phase of Russian Formalism form is synonymous to literariness and thus is granted an essential status in the definition of literature: actually it is what made literature literature. However, the later view of Russian Formalism takes into account the automatisation of the perception of literary devices and thus the opposition material/device tends to collapse. An automatised or habitual device has more to do with material than with form. "The dynamic principle implied in the material/device distinction means that elements of form itself can be included in the concept of material." (Ann Jefferson, "Russian Formalism", 36).

DEFAMILIARISATION (or "making strange"). Shklovsky thinks that art defamiliarises things that have become habitual or automatic (through the process of automatisation). In a way art is a perspective on things, a way to see things. Form becomes a focus of Formalist attention deriving directly from their preoccupation with the specificity of literariness. The object in itself is not important. The object is merely a pretext for art.

POETIC VS. EVERYDAY LANGUAGE. Sound is the key difference between poetic language and everyday usage. The autonomy of the poetic word is to be achieved through sound texture. This will attract attention to the word itself. Jakobson contends that "poetic form is the organized coercion of language." (Boris Eikhenbaum, "The Theory of the Formal Method", 127) Surprisingly enough the Formalists position themselves in an Aristotelian tradition in which "poetic language must appear strange and wonderful." (Shklovsky, "Art as Technique", 22) Leo Jakubinsky demonstrates that poetic language is "roughened". This "roughening" is both phonetic and rhythmic. Behind the notion of "roughened" language lurks the idea of defamiliarisation. [ short list of key terms ]

Craig suggested that instead of trying to imitate the world, theatre could be used to interpret and reveal it, removing all inessentials and pretensions, and displaying the epitome of a moment. To realise his plans he had to deconstruct the theatre and understand it's component parts.

To realise his ideal Craig intended to either completely remove the human from the stage, or dress them in costume that renders them incapable of adding anything of themselves to the overall vision or objective of the piece. Craig developed the famous idea of the 'Uîbermarionettes' the robots or mannequins that could carry out the director's instruction without interpretation, and in a precisely repeatable fashion. To frame the performance space Craig designed a set of screens which could move and change into any shape seamlessly and fluidly, in front of the audiences' eyes. The objective was to create a complete expression, like a fine artist, from beginning to end, the director is in control of every aspect of performance. He can compose directly to the stage. Therefore making the concept of the piece a direct communication between the addressee and the addresser. Anything or anyone that detracted from the piece was essentially removed from the creation or performace process.

Semiotics in Russian

Russian Formalism

according to Eichenbaum ("History of the Formal Method"): unsystematic and pragmatic

according to Jameson: "art as device" became a programmatic statement

three phases:

1. early sloganistic (Shklovsky’s "The Resurrection of the Word" (1914); "Art as Device" (1917)

2. Research and Development: Shklovsky’s "The connexion between devices of syuzhet construction and general stylistic devices" (1919)

3. New more sophisticated concepts: Jakobson’s notion of the "dominant" (1936) and Tynianov’s theories of literary evolution. (1927)

from form to function to system

synchrony to diachrony

Schklovsky: "The resurrection of the word" (1914)

The fate of works of old artists of the word is of the same nature as the fate of the word itself: they complete the journey from poetry to prose. The death of things. The aim of Futurism is the resurrection of things — the return to man of sensation of the world…. words have become familiar…..We do not sense the familiar, we do not see it, but recognise it…. ‘artistic’ perception is perception in which form is sensed. [palpability] – see ostranenie

What is typical for artistic perception is our material disinterestedness in it. Exhilaration at the speech of one’s defence counsel in the law court is not an artistic sensation, and, if we sense the nobility and humanity of the thoughts of the most humane poets in the world, then these sensations have nothing in common with art.

Only the creation of new forms of art can restore to man sensation of the world, can resurrect things and kill pessimism.


Formalist Theatre *

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Take formalism (later structuralism) literaly: forms = meanings!

Again, it's not an accident that the language of film was formed around the same time (1920s): BM is visual expression...

So, I use film technique for acting classes. No, not so-called "acting for the camera" -- but the camera breakdown of action. Call it "framing" -- selection of specific parts and movements, as if for a sinle shot. Maybe better to redirect you for Film Directing 101.

In short, you take motions apart and re-CONSTRUCT (choreographing for the dymanic space and subjective time)!

I didn't talk to you about "dynamic space" and "subjective time"?

What I did I tell you? Read the film pages -- and The Book of Spectator. Tatlin
[ difference between formalism and constructivism ]

NTL, I have to say a few words about Russian Formalism of the 20s; the stress on forms and insistence that meaning is changing with the changes of forms. In short, as I said: form = message (Hello, Mr. Aristotle, and Structure = Texture).

It's important in Method even more, because very often we can't see the inner process, because it is not SHAPED, not EXPRESSED. Formal Principle became important in critical theory, but somehow didn't sink into the theatre practice. BM starts with forms, assuming that they are the expression of IDEAs!

I keep refering to the Film Theory (Semiotics), because acting for the camera is very segmented: we film shots, or beats of action. Also, the acting is done under the strict measurment, almost like in BM, where every step is choreographed. (Remember "cycles"?)

Without repeating the basic 4-Steps cycle, see ACT Page. Meyerhold believed that every movement on stage must be choreographed, because every change on stage is MEESSAGE. We do need to bring theory into acting business as long as actors can compose the stage sentences. If they don't, they should glance through the pages of "BioMX Theory fo Actors" -- it might help.

Everything in acting is about movement: emotional changes -- and therefore changes physical. They can be small or big, but they are always there. Actor's choices MUST be made. Or they will be made for you, if you work with good director or good actors. No choices means bad performance. Without MOVEMENT you have no "texts"!

I call Actor's Text. You "write" those texts in time and space. Out of the "empty space" and time, you create YOUR chronotope where your character becomes your ROLE.

You need to learn how to "read" acting texts (performance), if you you want to compose them. The study of "signs" is called semiotics. In method acting it is known as subtext, the actual meaning behind the lines. Biomechanics were developed in reaction to Stanislavsky's System and everything that the method of psychological realism has to offer is EXTENDED to the next level in BioMX. the choices are big and definite! That is why BioMX is so suitable for comedy.

PRE-ACTING Meyerhold used to emphasize the action before any spoken line. How important it is you can see in bad acting: the gesture follows the text -- that is an illustration. Good acting is to set a situation for your line; we anticipate the words, we wait, we want to hear... and only then actor delivers!

Stage = Body = Machine = Action = Motion = Space-in-Time = Forms = Ideas



Formalism was born after the Einstein's revolution in physics: form and meaning are not separate. The form is the meaning. There is no meaning outside of formal principles. Also, read Symbolism in Script Analysis Directory.

From constructivism to deconstruction. Also, Semiotics files!

MASTER. Anatoly! Write more about the structuralism! This is important, my man.


Read books on structuralism!

- Yes, sir, I will!



new Spring 2002 THR221 Intermediate Acting (focus on biomechanics) * Comedy & Biomechanics Forum * Popova-Plastic

"The Futurists rejected the past and wished to transform reality ... [they] deplored the veneration of the past as a barrier to progress ... [and] glorified the energy and speed of the machine age." (History, Brockett, 477)

Variety Theatre Manifesto (October, 1913): The official theory of Futurist theatre -- "Its mixture of film and acrobatics, song and dance, clowning and 'the whole gamut of stupidity, imbecility, doltishness, and absurdity, insensibly pushing the intelligence to the very border of madness'." (Goldberg, 17) * Focusing on the destruction of the Solemn * Anti-academic

[ Futurism ]


@2000-2004 * index * Constructivism

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Get Site Info "A Declaration about Futurist Theatre" (1914): Attacked Stanislavsky and Meyerhold as well for repressing the actor * Action should dominate the theatre not the word [ Vadim Shershenevich (1893 - 1942) ]


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