Stanislavski

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Question: Discuss what Stanislavski means when he says that an actor must lay as much emphasis on inner truth as on physical details. Konstantin Stanislavski was 14 years old when he first set foot on the stage that his parents owned in 1877. His love of the theatre blossomed throughout his life, leading him to become one of the world's most influential theatre practitioners to date. He published many books and guides designed to give drama students an insight into "realism", including 'An Actor Prepares' and 'Building a Character', which outline various famous rehearsal methods designed to allow an actor to fully relate to their character, to the point that they are not just pretending to be them, but actually living their lives. He argued that the actor should "Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art" [1], looking for the emotion within themselves as opposed to the words in the script. He was a great believer in formal (and rigorous) training for the actor. His deep interests resides in analyzing the qualities of human behaviour which were meant to give the actor an awareness about how one should act and react, so as to leave an impact on the viewer.

From 1911 to 1916 Stanislavski created a method which was based on the concept of emotional memory, in which an actor focuses internally to portray a character's emotions on stage. Later, from 1934–1938, this technique evolved to a method of physical actions in which emotions are produced through the use of actions. The latter technique is referred to as Stanislavski's system which entirely focuses on the statement under consideration: “an actor must lay as much emphasis on inner truth as on physical details.” Stanislavski's system is a method for actors to produce realistic characters on stage. According to him, physical act without emotions is hollow and incomplete without the inner truth. In order to understand this better, we’ll have to look at the importance of the truth, its impact, its umbilical relationship with physical actions to give a prefect act and Stanislavski’s sense of acting.

According to Stanislavski there are two kinds of truths; one that is created automatically on the plane of actual fact and other that originates on the plane of imagination and artistic fiction. He believed that by physical actions one can express but can never make the spectators feel. The gestures are hollow and a character is incomplete if the soul (inner truth) is missing. For the impression and a better presentation one needs to travel a journey within themselves so as to eradicate the abstract and accept the role within oneself. And one can do that only by finding the inner truth and practising it along with the physical actions to make it feel and spread. For the spirit of the role, consummation of both the soul and body is required. One needs to strengthen the bonds of inner and outer self as they are indivisible and also to eliminate the mechanical and develop the inner source of feeling. Inner truth not only makes the act lively and touching but also it gives the actors the power to perform with more conviction. He believed that a good actor is the one who associate with the spectators, for that the actions must be convincing to the actors as well and if the actions are not felt from within, it can never be magical and empowering enough to hold the people.

The 8th chapter of ‘An Actor Prepares’ talks about the sense of truth in one’s acting. It expresses that how when a person acts, they must use truth and a sense of belief. Stanislavski once insisted that all actions that a person must enact, such as walking, talking, even sitting on stage, must be broken down and re-learned. For example, his book, translated into English as "Building a Character," gives a description of the correct way of walking on stage. Such rigors of re-learning were probably constant throughout his life. He wanted actors to concentrate on themselves by foregrounding the sense of...
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