An acting technique based on given circumstances and the magic if. The method enables actors to overcome challenges in there performance.
All action in theatre must have inner justification, be logical, coherent and real.Konstantin Stanislavski
Stanislavski and his technique are a common topic in acting classes. It can, however, be challenging to understand everything there is to this famous person. If that is what you are looking for, then you are in the right place. In this article, we are going to take a more in-depth look at the acting methods Stanislavski technique without leaving everything out. Read on to find an answer to all your questions regarding the Stanislavski acting method!
What is the Stanislavski technique?
We cannot fully understand the technique without a short history class. Konstantin Stanislavski was a Russian actor, theatre practitioner and director. He was born in 1863 so you can imagine how old the technique is; but old is gold, right? The Stanislavski technique stems from the actor’s theatre practice which grew popular to date. Actors around the world still use the method thanks to acting instructors who were former students that started using the technique.
Before Stanislavski adopted that as his stage name, he was known as Constantin Sergeyevich, a member of one of the wealthiest families in Russia. In his autobiography My Life in Art, he says that he was an enthusiast of acting right from a tender age. He also explains that he was enchanted by theatre from his childhood. He adopted the love for operas, puppets and ballet theatre as an adolescent defying his family expectations by becoming an actor. He enrolled in acting school but dropped out in just a few weeks. He termed his reason unrealistic and over-dramatic performances that do not convey any human nature.
Stanislavski described his acting technique as a holistic, multivariant technique. The acting method encouraged his students to approach their characters in a psycho-physical approach from inside out and outside in. The technique, according to Stanislavski, treats the actor’s body and mind as a continuum or vessel. He encouraged his students to embrace the technique after realizing that most students who used the method acting technique had mental problems. He encouraged his students to shake off the character after rehearsing, which is a significant pillar of the Stanislavski technique.
The Stanislavski method of acting developed out of his persistent efforts to overcome challenges or given circumstances he encountered in his performances. He subjected his whole acting career to a rigorous process of self-analysis and artistic reflection. He worked as an amateur actor and director until he was 33. In 1898, Stanislavski and Vladimir co-founded the Moscow art theatre (mat) where the Stanislavski technique was officially born.
The Stanislavski technique is centered around given circumstances and the magic if which we will uncover shortly. Coaches and theatre instructions use the acting method as a training system which allows actors to create believable characters. The acting technique helps actors to bring characters to life and put themselves in place of the character accurately.
According to Stanislavski, the method is centered around cultivating the art of experience as he called it. The technique supposedly mobilizes the actor’s thoughts in a way that triggers almost uncontrollable psychological processes. Such processes include emotional reactions depending on what the character is going through. It also includes empathizing and sympathizing with the character subconsciously.
Stanislavski: Given circumstances
Stanislavski method emphasizes the importance of understanding the world of your character. Understanding your role and everything around and about them helps in creating a believable performance that will connect you to the audience.
You can start understanding your given circumstances by asking yourself the following questions;
- Who am I? – find out the name of the character. The age can also help to identify the role.
- When is it? – this refers to the time of day, year, season, or even era in which the play is set.
- Where am I? – identify the location in the scene. It can be a studio, theatre or set.
- What relationships do I have? – identify your relationships with objects in the scene as well as other characters.
- What happened before the play started? – read through the script to find out everything that happened before and after the scene.
You can use the Uta Hagen questions to help you understand the given circumstances. Most techniques stemmed from the Stanislavski method, so they all interrelate.
Once you can answer all those questions accurately, it means you have enough material to help you in understanding the character. Remember that your character is as human as you are and they are I need of a whole world like yours.
Stanislavski: The magic if
Stanislavski describes the magic if as placing yourself in the shoes of the actor. The technique explains that the actor should ask themselves what they would do if they were in a situation as the character. It is an excellent way to consider the natural reaction to different events in the scene of the story.
Stanislavski always said that imagination is the fuel of an artist and that anything can thrive on creativity. An actor using this tool needs to imagine they are then character. They need to put themselves in those shoes and imagine the different relationships with other actors.
The technique teaches how to combine a good imagination with observation to bring out a real connection with the character. Stanislavski himself was the master of observation. He would dress up as a peasant or an old person and go out to the streets and interact with people to observe how they act towards his character. He taught his students the importance of observation and imprinting the imagination, coupled with what they have observed on their minds.
The technique also notes that people are different and what one imagines is quite different from the other. The magic if however, is a principal founding pillar of the technique.
The Stanislavski technique does not end there. It’s a comprehensive technique that has bore excellent results for actors and artist worldwide. Stanislavski’s actor prepares a superb read if you want to understand the method even better. The method explains the pillars of Stanislavski’s method in more detail.
You also need to remember that the technique is based on a psycho-physical action. You, therefore, do not need to worry about looking ridiculous or your mechanical actions that may arise from the approach. The sole focus of the technique is bringing the real, raw and truthful emotions.
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