Intensive Study of Stanislavsky Method: History and Future

I. Project Overview

The work of Stanislavski, who co-founded the Moscow Art Theatre, has been seminal to the birth of American realism in theatre. His influence in creating a comprehensive method of acting can be seen almost anywhere in theatre and film today. His work is still carried out by generations of his students. Our American method acting is derivative of the teachings of Stanislavski. The great acting teachers of the twentieth century in America such as Sanford Miesner, whose method I study at NIU, carried on Stanislavski's work through their teaching. How will the Stanislavski method change in this century? Is it still viable? In what ways will it help theatre develop? These are some of the questions that I would like to answer for myself and other ilieatre artists. I will answer these questions primarily through interviews with the actors and teachers of the Moscow Art Theatre (MXAT,) who are some of the foremost experts in the world on the Stanislavski Method. I will also supplement the interviews with readings, as well as live theatre and rehearsals at the Moscow Art Theatre and elsewhere in Moscow. I will also participate in classes at the Moscow Art Theatre School. Through this course of study I will be able to evaluate both the Miesner and Stanislavski methods of training to better understand their strengths and weaknesses and their future viability, while advancing and refining my own skills as an actor, teacher, coach and director. I will also create work for publication.

II. Project Description Proposal:

Through interviews, class participation and first hand experience of Russian theatre, I will investigate and evaluate the Russian and American models of Stanislavski's teaching in order to better understand how the Stanislavski method has developed in these two countries and more importantly how it will continue to change and develop in years to come. I will live-and work with the actors and teachers at the Moscow Art Theatre School for four weeks in June 2003.

The question is this, in a theatre that is growing less realistic and more highly stylized around the world, is the Stanislavski method and its American counterparts such as the Meisner method still viable for this century? Out of this question stem many more questions that I will use in my interviews to ascertain the specific nature of the development of the Stanislavski method and the reason that its principles have endured for so long in Russia and the U.S., and how those principles can meet the present shift in theatrical paradigms.

As we begin our collective journey into a new century, it is of great importance to take stock in the events and trends that defined the last century. This is one of the things that unite us as a global society. As an actor, the Stanislavski Method has left a rather majestic and often perplexing mark on the last century. The development and changes that the Stanislavski system have undergone in the last hundred years or so are of great importance in understanding how it will become integrated into the theatre of this century.

This begs many questions. How much of Stanislavski's teaching is still present in the American and Russian models today? Has StanislavskiĆ¢€™s voice truly survived, accurately? What points in Stanislavski's teaching should we keep, and what should we leave behind? Most important though, is the question I pose to myself; how will I carry forward the ideals of Miesner and Stanislavski in my own teaching, directing, and acting?

I cannot answer these questions by myself. Indeed, it is fortunate that I cannot, because this forces me to seek collaboration and collaboration is the very heart of theatre. I am in a unique position to investigate these pressing issues through this oppor