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I think that opposing the two schools is anti-productive; their historical rivary is behind us. For me both, Stanislavsky and Meyerhold, approacing the same subject from two different sides -- and both should be presented to students of theatre TOGETHER!

In America Method became so popular because of its applications to acting for the camera. Biomechanics are for the stage. Perhaps BM can be applied to physical comedy on the screen, but Meyerhold had STAGE ACTING in mind and the need of the actor in THEATRE.

Of course, there are a lot of pages are missing in BM book, but I can't put them in in fear to overload the texts. "Beats and Units" -- for example. Very important, but it belongs to the playscript analysis and I have to do it there. Another -- reaction to the character's past, present and future. It's for the Method, not BM... although it has to be expressed physically. If you look at the archives of the Three Sisters (Forum), you will notice how actors struggle with the establishing, the past, present & future. "Where did you come from?" "What did you do an hour ago?" "What will happend to Irina ten years from now?" You have to know it! Especially, because the character doesn't know!

"But, Anatoly, how I can find it in the text? It's not there!"

If it's not there, you put it in! Play is an open structure! It asks for your ideas, your guesses!

... Sometimes, I do not understand actors. I wrote plays, I remember, struggling with some of them for years. Struggling with a single word, comas, a period... And they read scripts like a newspaper! They do not study it!

And I think about what are they busy with? They would write in their journals about the problems with their boy-friends and girl-friends, but what about the problems Hamlet is facing? Why are they less real for you? Why is yiour problems are more important? Why don't you see that his problems are the core of your problems? Do you think that Hamlet is not "real"? Do you think that you are "real"? What the hell do you do theatre for?

I have to finish this thought. Why Theatre? There are so many other occupations in the world! Work in the bank. Theatre is about calling, you do not become a priest for money, why do think it is different for artist? In fact, I believe that theatre is the only true church left!

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THR221 Intermediate Acting (BM) Textbook Spring 2003:
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2003 * THR221 Intermediate Acting : new pages in BM+ @ *

2004 & After

new: Konstantin Stanislaysky by Bella Merlin, University of Birmingham, UK Stanislaysky, undisputed pioneer of modern acting technique, continues to form the backbone of much drama teaching, actor training and theatre practice. Yet many of his ideas remain either elusive or misunderstood. This concise and readable book assesses and explains:

•his influence and life history •ground plans and theatre direction plans • his widely-read text An Actor Prepares.

It also gives both a detailed commentary of the key 1898 production of The Seagull and an indispensable set of practical exercises for actors, teachers and directors. It will prove invaluable for readers new to Stanislaysky while also giving some fascinating new insights to those familiar with his work.

September 2003: 198x129: 184pp: illus. 9 b&w photographs and 9 groundplans and theatre direction plans. Hb: 0-415-25885-5: Pb: 0-415-25886-3:


Method directory (Advanced Acting).


"There are no formulas... on how to become a great actor, or how to play this or that part... With strong desire, if you work, if you come to know your own nature, and discipline it, then... you will become a true artist." - Konstantin Stanislavsky

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Handbook of the Stanislavsky's Method *


new: Michael Chekhov by Franc Chamberlain, University College Northampton, UK Michael Chekhov was Stanislaysky's star student and a master acting teacher. Exiled from Soviet Russia, he made his way to Britain - and then to the United States, spending his last years as an actor and acting teacher in Hollywood. Along the way he introduced countless students to his acting technique known most famously for its 'psychological gesture'. Michael Chekhov's unique approach to and lasting impact on actor training are only now beginning to be fully appreciated. This volume provides, for the first time, a fully comprehensive introduction to:

• his life and times •his most notable productions • his classic writings • his practical exercises, including many unavailable elsewhere.

Invigorating and insightful, the volume will help students to engage their imaginations and understand this fascinating man and his work.

September 2003: 198x 129: 168pp: illus. 7 b+w photographs hb: 0-415-25877-4: Pb: 0-415-25878-2:

chekhov pages @ vtheatre


Stanislavsky Technique: Russia (Applause Acting Series) It is virtually impossible to discuss modern acting or actor training without first mentioning the Russian thoerist and director Konstantin Stanislavsky. Complete in one volume, Mel Gordon explores the actor training systems of Stanislavsky and his two most important disciples, Evgeni Vakhtangov and Michael Chekhov, tracing the major teachings and refinements over the first 50 years of use by actors. Gordon reconstructs the actual exercises taught at the Moscow Art Theatre and various Russian acting studios, and he clears away the myths and confusion about the practical use of Stanislavsky's System. This volume contains: The Stanislavsky System - First Studio Exercises 1912-1916; Vakhtangov as Rebel and Theoretician - Exercises 1919-1921; Michael Chekhov - Exercises 1919-1952; and Stanislavsky's Fourth Period - Theory of Physical Actions, 1934-1938.

Peter Brook:

Гурджиев часто использовал образ актера как метафору полностью развитого человеческого существа. Он говорит о различных ролях, которые мы играем в жизни, выполнении всех требований, предъявляемых меняющимися ситуациями, полном вхождении в них при сохранении внутренней свободы. Именно это и требуется от хорошего актера. Поскольку театр показывает жизненные движения в особо концентрированной и легко распознаваемой форме, он является прекрасной лабораторией, где идеи обретают воплощение и могут быть немедленно проверены.

Хороший актер никогда не считает себя частью пьесы, которую он играет. Плохой актер телом и душой отдается своему образу -- настолько, что полностью теряет себя. Часто, уходя со сцены, он убежден в том, что это было лучшее выступление в его жизни, но всем остальным видно, насколько он был преувеличен, напыщен и неискренен. Но он не может осознать этого, так как глух и слеп: между ним и образом, который он воплощает, нет никакой дистанции, он поглощен тем, что Гурджиев называл "отождествлением". С другой стороны, чем лучше актер, тем меньше он отождествляется со своей ролью, и -- кажущийся парадокс -- чем меньше он отождествляется, тем глубже он может войти в образ. Он подобен руке в перчатке, все отдельно и в то же время нераздельно; роль вдохновляет его, но никоим образом не порабощает; внутри он свободен и полностью осознан. Начинающий актер не может достичь такой свободы; он пленник собственной неуклюжести, своих страхов, отсутствия понимания и желания понравиться другим. Он должен заниматься, упражнять себя и, хотя это и не выражается в подобных терминах, но в любой театральной школе, независимо от стиля, каждодневная работа -- это в первую очередь стремление к качеству. Интуитивно качество может видеть любой человек, и раскрывается оно очень простыми практичными cловами: "хорошо", "не очень хорошо", "лучше", "плохо". Эти оценки могут относиться к движениям, или к чувству, ритму или ясности мышления, но качество можно распознать всегда, и актер интуитивно стремится к тому, чтобы зритель ему сопереживал. Только тогда роль может создать правдивое впечатление. Правда может быть неопределима, но зритель сразу же распознает ее.

Для публики единственным критерием является качество. Во время выступления актер постоянно излучает поток энергии, прямо влияющий на качество внимания зрителей. В кульминационных моментах актеры и зрители едины, исчезает разделение между сценой и зрительным залом, и индивидуальные эго не мешают общему переживанию. В такие светлые моменты наступает особая тишина.

Что такое тишина? Как можно ее определить? Ведь тишина бывает разной. В начале выступления наступает шелестящая тишина тысячи людей, сидящих рядом друг с другом, каждый из них частично внимает, частично прислушивается к жужжанию собственных мыслей и забот. Затем мы пересекаем разные уровни тишины, один за другим, по мере того, как затрагиваются наши чувства, чувства, которые мы все больше и больше разделяем с окружающими нас людьми, пока нас всех не объединяет одна общая эмоция. Иногда качество тишины menяется, она продолжает углубляться, пока не достигает драгоценной точки, где можно слышать, как муха пролетит, где тишина полна и пуста одновременно, и в редчайшие моменты публика, как одно существо, входит в пространство несравненной красоты и очарования. Этот опыт точно показывает нам природу подъема и падения энергий, и помогает нам понять, что качество -- реально.

Однако искусство, в какой бы то ни было форме, может дать нам только отражения скрытой реальности, мимолетно и частично. Оно никогда не может привести к устойчивому пониманию. Подлинная ценность искусства кроется не в том, что оно являет собой, но в том, что оно предлагает. Оно дает нам возможность открыть в себе новые уровни осознания, восходящие к изначальному полю энергий, в котором все образы -- не более, чем исчезающие тени.

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The modern movement often called method acting is also often referred to as "the Stanislavsky System" after Konstantin Stanislavsky who pioneered the ideas in his teachings, writings, and acting. His most influential books are the autobiography My Life in Art, and his trilogy of books set in a fictionalized acting school as a pretense for his own teachings, An Actor Prepares, Building a Character, and Creating a Role.
BioMX Theory for Actors
Acting III: we study BM (Intermediate Acting) to return to Method!

System of the Method

Method and Semiotics...
There is no less "system" in BM than in the Method Acting. Meyerhold left no books, but the laws of Biomechanics are easy to understand.

Stanislavsky himself was interested in the method of "physical action" -- after all he was fighting the same enemy -- bad acting. And "talking actors" -- the ones who rely on the written text for communicating the meaning. After Chekhov this type of acting for any serious drama became absolete; the true meaning went from the text to subtext. No offence, Shakespeare, but in the 20th century drama characters do not describe their feelings, or if they do, they lie. Anmd this is where the real drama is -- the silence! We, audience, "read" hero's motivations comparing the words with the action. Not new, but this function of the new public became most important for drama. Both Meyerhord and Stanislavsky understood that the need for NEW THEATRE was dictated by the NEW PUBLIC.

[ Review Part I in your textbook! ]

Straight drama asks for extereme indentification; Me, spectator, = Hamlet... and therefore Actor = Hamlet. If I have to "forget" myself and feel the drama of the character, the actor has to "die" in his character!

Spectator = Character = Actor
The character becomes a central category and you can see it in the drama since Ibsen. The "new" plot is there to serve the characters. Believability becomes a criteria; meaning that I recognize in my own soul the motivations of the hero. Do you see? The Motivation! Not "what" our Hamlet does, but "why"! Here is your interpretation and your acting choices come in.

Young Meyerhold was the star of the first Chekhov's productions at the Moscow Art Theatre. Anton Chekhov thought that Meyerhold understood his dramatic craft better than Stanislavsky! Actually, in many of his letter Chekhov complains that Stanislavsky doesn't understand his writing at all! (Interesting to notice, that Stanislavsky himself confessed that Chekhov's drama is ahead of the Russian theatre, including the best theatre in Russia, his theatre).

I ask my students to imagine how bad the acting was just a century ago. I advice them to think why the soup opera actors are bad....

Do you believe them?

The problem is that they are "acting"! Instead of "living" their parts.

I also hold both, Chekhov and Stanislavsky, responsable for the soaps. Chekhov introduced the everyday drama of the average people and Method Acting give the tools when everybody can act. In fact, you can see it even more in the movies, where indeed "everybody" acts! (But this is the subject for Film-North and Eisenstein's theory of the non-actors in film).

One of the problems for the lack of training in Biomechanics is in the absence of the Method trained actors. Only after you go through the experience of the Stanislavsky' System (as Meyerhold himself did), you understand its limitations. You understand that the true emotional reading of your character is only a beginning.

In fact, it's almost impossible to understand Biomechanics without some good knowledge of the Method.

What usually is lost in "inner acting" -- theatricality!

Theatrical language!

To put it simple; theatre IS a language of movenment, born out of dance... and song. The lyrics got so complex that by the end of the 18th century we had "readers theatre".... The triumph of the Broadway has rather primitive reason: theatre is song and dance. No disrespect to Chekhov, but theatre is not about words. Before Meyerhold became a revolutonary, he staged a lot of operas (and he never directed any Chekhov's play, the author he started with and the writer who loved him as an actor). Theatre has its own language, beyond and before written and spoken word. The 20s were the time of the formation of the film language, the Great Silent Film Era. Meyerhold' student Sergey Eisenstein left theatre to experiment on the screen.

Stanislavsky' Method Look, we are humans. We can understand what is said. The first book on theatre (The Poetics) talks about drama which became history of theatre. Twenty five centuries later theatre came to a realization that speaking theatre is only a part of Theatre...

Meyerhold'95 In class I have to stress that the revolution in teather won't be possible without the technological revolution, the electrification of stage. The Set Revolution was possible because we could LIGHT it, we can MANIPULATE the space! Here come the Director's Theatre.

To make it simple; Stanislavsky was the end of the long road of drama, Meyerhord was the beginning. He was a student of Stanislavsky, a good one, he took theatre to the 20th century.

We live in the history when the "eclectic" is a style and I use both, Stanislavsky and Meyerhold in class and rehearsals. Actors have to understand the text of the play, but they have to know the languages of the theatre... and BM can help.

We all know about the subtext, the real text in theatre, but how do we master it?

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At what points the Method and the Biomechanics should be connected?


Write your journal from your character's POV.

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Selected pages from METHOD directory: 24hour Actor, ActHome, Acting, Breakdown, Director, Character, Dramatic Acting, Journals, Last Notes
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"Fourth wall" -- Specifically in a proscenium theater, the term fourth wall applies to the imaginary invisible wall at the front of the stage in a theater through which the audience sees the action in the world of the play. In an arena theater, or theater-in-the-round, all four walls are in effect "fourth walls." One also speaks of a fourth wall in fictional realms, in literature, movies, television, radio, comic books, and other forms of entertainment.

The term signifies the suspension of disbelief by the audience, who are looking in on the action through the invisible wall. The audience thus pretends that the characters in the story are real "living" beings in their own world, and not merely actors performing on a stage or studio set, or written words on the pages of a book. In order for the fourth wall to remain intact, the actors must also, in effect, pretend that the audience does not exist, by staying in character at all times and by not addressing the audience members directly. Most such productions rely on the fourth wall.

The term breaking the fourth wall is used in film, theater, television, and literary works; it refers to a character directly addressing an audience, or actively acknowledging (through breaking character or through dialogue) that the characters and action going on is not real.

Acting for the Camera : Revised Edition Culled from Tony Barr's 40 years' experience as a performer, director and acting teacher in Hollywood, this highly praised handbook provides readers with the practical knowledge they needwhen performing in front of the camera. This updated edition includes plenty of new exercises for honing on-camera skills; additional chapters on imagination and movement; and fresh material on character development, monologues, visual focus, playing comedy and working with directors. Inside tips on the studio system and acting guilds make it particularly helpful for people new to the business, and numerous anecdotes from actors such as Morgan Freeman and Anthony Hopkins and examples from current movies illustrate its many lessons. It is perfect for acting classes, workshops, all actors who work in front of the camera -- and all those who want to. @2000-2005 contents * Next: anatoly-tv

Успех МХАТа Чехов объяснял так: старательны, учат роли, хотя талантами не блещут. Чехов кардинально изменил театр: кроме роли, нужно было знать пьесу. Ведь режиссеры не читали пьес. Чехов жаловался на Станиславского и Немировича-Данченко: “Я готов дать какое угодно слово, что оба они ни разу не прочли внимательно моей пьесы”. Немирович считал, что Чехов шутит.

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Building a Character by Constantine Stanislavski This is the second volume of Stanislaviski's enduring trilogy on the art of acting. The "System" which he describes is a means both of mastering the craft of acting and of stimulating the actor's individual creativeness and imagination. It has become the central force determining almost every performance we see on stage or screen, and still remains today the only comprehensive theory of acting we possess.
In Building a Character Stanislavski discusses with mastery and insight the actor's physical means of expression for realizing character on stage, such as the use of body, movement, voice, tempo, expression, make-up and costume.

The Method Based on Stanislavski and Strasberg (1995)

This VHS is a must for actors, teachers and directors who wish to understand Stanislavski's and Strasberg's "Methods", as well as techniques of Elia Kazan, which are explained and demonstrated. Dr. Hull is currently producing "Method II: Based on Stanislavski, Strasberg and Kazan," which will explain and demonstrate even more advanced work of "The Method," such as affective memory, more advanced substitution, personalization, creating the place, narrative monologue and other techniques. Excellent extensive explanations are printed of the video, as well as of Lorrie Hull's book, "Strasberg's Method: A Practical Guide for Actors, Teachers, Directors." The current VHS, "The Method" has been of interest to the general public who are curious about how fine actors develop their craft. The video not only is a comprehensive teaching tape, but also entertains with scenes and scene critiques by Emmy and Academy Award actress, Cloris Leachman. "The Method" is an invaluable purchase for the library of all those interested in "Method Acting," and for all those who watch Bravo's "Actors Studio" TV show. Many professional acting and directing instructors, as well as college professors, find their teaching is much easier when they use this VHS.
More and more I use film terminology in BM class; simple as CU and MS frame -- or more complex, like line of action, axis of tention.
In this short work, noted director Strasberg (1901-1982) tells how the teachings of Stanislavsky changed his life and describes his own discoveries and techniques in the art of acting. PW designated this as "essential reading for actors, directors and students of theater." Photos. Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc
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Stanislavsky & Meyerhold


mini-chekhov fall 2005 *

"It's a long while since I've drunk champagne."
He drank it, turned on his side and died moments later. A huge black moth suddenly flew in through the open window, batted wildly against the lamp, and then found its way out, leaving silence. Olga later consoled herself with the recollection:
"There was only beauty, peace and the grandeur of death."
Chekhov05 Four Jokes and One Funeral:
"One has to write what one sees, what one feels, truthfully, sincerely. I am often asked what it was that I was wanting to say in this or that story. To these questions I never have any answer. There is nothing I want to say. My concern is to write, not to teach! And I can write about anything you like. ... Tell me to write about this bottle, and I will give you a story entitled "The Bottle." Living truthful images generate thought, but thought cannot create an image.

In my opinion it is not the writer's job to solve such problems as God, pessimism, etc; his job is merely to record who, under what conditions, said or thought what about God or pessimism. The artist is not meant to be a judge of his characters and what they say; his only job is to be an impartial witness. I heard two Russians in a muddled conversation about pessimism, a conversation that solved nothing; all I am bound to do is reproduce that conversation exactly as I heard it. Drawing conclusions is up to the jury, that is, the readers. My only job is to be talented, that is, to know how to distinguish important testimony from unimportant, to place my characters in the proper light and speak their language." — To Alexei Suvorin, May 30, 1888

"Greetings, last page of my life, great actress of the Russian land."
He married when he knew that he is dying... Death: "The pathos of the fear of death is the greatest known to man. It is hard even to imagine how trivial life would become if it had not been given to man to have a foreboding of his inevitable death and to be terrified of it. For everything that has been created of the best, the strongest, the most significant and profound of all human endeavor. . . has had as its source reflections about death and fear of it." (Lev Shestov - 1938)

Who dies? Chekhov.

TB. He knew it first, he was a doctor.

“Мне отлично известно, что проживу я еще не больше полугода; казалось бы, меня теперь должны бы больше всего занимать вопросы о загробных потемках и о тех видениях, которые посетят мой замогильный сон. Но почему-то душа моя не хочет знать этих вопросов, хотя ум сознает всю их важность”. (Ivanov)


"His vaudeville plays like The Bear and The Proposal proved commercially successful. Popular as they were, however, Chekhov's purpose for writing them was not simply providing light and lucrative entertainment. Though the works themselves were never intended to be taken seriously, Chekhov never lost sight of his goal of becoming a "serious writer." These plays represent studies in the craft of playwriting. Hard-hitting satires, the vaudevilles mock love but also revel in how fickle our hearts can be. He is laughing at us, but given his own amorous escapades, he is also laughing at himself.
The genre of these vaudevilles is important to note. Chekhov classifies The Bear, The Proposal and The Wedding, as well as Swan Song, A Tragedian In Spite of Himself and On the Dangers of Tobacco as belonging to the same genre as The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard: comedy. Chekhov gives us an important clue in his deliberate association of these light-hearted sketches with his master drawings. The suggestion is clear: In the farces, sex is taken seriously. In the serious plays, sex is revealed as farce." *


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