The Origins of the Stanislavski System

Essay by TurkishHigh School, 12th grade August 2006

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The origins of the Stanislavski System are in naturalism, positivism, Marxism, photography, Darwin, electricity, and realism. There is no one technique of acting and before Stanislavski there was no system at all. He created a system of training wherein actors would research the situation created by the script, break down the text according to their character's motivations and recall their own experiences, thereby causing actions and reactions according to these motivations. The actor would ideally make his motivations acting identical to those of the character in the script. He could then replay these emotions and experiences in the role of the character in order to achieve a more genuine performance. The 17th Century melodrama Tsar Fyodor was the first production in which these techniques were showcased. Stanislavsky's goal was to find a Universal Method/System that could help the actors. To sum everything up Stanislavsky said this about his System. "Create your own method.

Don't depend slavishly on mine. Make up something that will work for you! But keep breaking traditions, I beg you."

Born in Moscow in 1863, Constantine Sergeyevich Stanislavski had a more profound effect on the process of acting than anyone else in the twentieth century. At age 14, Stanislavski joined a theatre group organized by his family, and soon became its central figure. Throughout the late 1800s he improved as an actor and began to produce and direct plays. In 1898 he co-founded the Moscow Art Theatre with Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko. One of the company's first productions was Anton Chekhov's The Seagull. It was then that Stanislavski began developing, based on the realist tradition of Aleksandra Pushkin, his famous "System". It was his assertion that if theater was going to be meaningful it needed to move beyond the external representation that acting had primarily been. Over forty years...