Family background: Stanislavski had a privileged youth, growing up in one of the richest families in Russia, the Alekseyevs. 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. 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. The Alexeyevs were a prosperous, bourgeois family, whose factories manufactured gold and silver braiding for military decorations and uniforms. Until the Russian revolution in 1917, Stanislavski often used his inherited wealth to fund his theatrical experiments in acting and directing. His family's discouragement meant that he appeared only as an amateur onstage and as a director until he was thirty three.
As a child, Stanislavski was exposed to the rich cultural life of his family. His interests included the circus, the ballet, and puppetry. 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. 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. It was from this habit of self-analysis and critique that Stanislavski's system later emerged. 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....
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