Stanislavski Biography

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Family background: Stanislavski had a privileged youth, growing up in one of the richest families in Russia, the Alekseyevs.[4] He was born Constantin Sergeyevich Alexeyev – "Stanislavski" was a stage name that he adopted in 1884 in order to keep his performance activities secret from his parents.[5] The prospect of becoming a professional actor was taboo for someone of his social class; actors had an even lower social status in Russia than in the rest of Europe, having only recently been serfs and the property of the nobility.[6] The Alexeyevs were a prosperous, bourgeois family, whose factories manufactured gold and silver braiding for military decorations and uniforms.[7] Until the Russian revolution in 1917, Stanislavski often used his inherited wealth to fund his theatrical experiments in acting and directing.[8] His family's discouragement meant that he appeared only as an amateur onstage and as a director until he was thirty three.[8]

As a child, Stanislavski was exposed to the rich cultural life of his family.[9] His interests included the circus, the ballet, and puppetry.[10] His father, Sergei Vladimirovich Alekseyev, was elected head of the merchant class in Moscow (one of the most important and influential positions in the city) in 1877; that same year, he had a fully equipped theatre on his estate at Liubimovka built for the entertainment of his family and friends, providing a forum for Stanislavski's adolescent theatrical impulses.[11] Stanislavski started, after his debut performance there, what would become a life-long series of notebooks filled with critical observations on his acting, aphorisms, and problems.[12] It was from this habit of self-analysis and critique that Stanislavski's system later emerged.[13] The family's second theatre was added in 1881 to their mansion at Red Gates, on Sadovaya Street in Moscow (where Stanislavski lived from 1863 to 1903); their house became a focus for the artistic and cultural life of the city.[14]...
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