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Transcript of Stanislavski System
1863 – 7 August 1938
THE CIRCLE OF ATTENTION
He invented a system used by some of the world's greatest actors
The World of The Play
Stanislavski stressed the importance of physical relaxation, as in his own opinion, muscular tension interfered greatly with the actors work, and his attempts to get into a role. He made a point of practising relaxing muscles on a daily basis, and getting into a habit of relaxation, both on and off the stage Stanislavski felt that an actor should be aware of the body, and have great control over its movements.
Taking the theory of concentration a step further, Stanislavski devised the 'circles of attention'. This was where an actor would create a 'circle' in his or her own performance where they would devote their entire attention. Anything outside the circle would cease to exist. This would mean the performance would be totally dedicated, without any disruption from anything else,
The Real World
The other characters
The GIVEN CIRCUMSTANCES
The concerns of the actor
The concerns of The Character
Emotional Memory requires that an actor recreate an event from the distant past in order to regenerate the feelings they experienced at that time. These feelings that have been regenerated are then used in the current acting situation in order to play the role with “human depth and personal involvement”.
The Given Circumstances
This expression means the story of the play, the facts, the director's interpretation, and the production elements - all the circumstances that are given to an actor to take into account as he creates his role.
The most fundamental principle of Stanislavski's teaching is that the actor must live the life of the character that he/she is portraying. The actor must learn to think like the character and behave as the character would; therefore the portrayal is not confined to the performance but will, to some degree, begin to overlap into the actor's own life.
THE MAGIC IF
OFF TEXT ACTIVITIES
to help you develop your role
A group makes a still image and individuals are invited to speak their thoughts or feelings aloud - just a few words. This can be done by tapping each person on the shoulder or holding a cardboard 'thought-bubble' above their head. Alternatively, thought tracking (also called thought tapping) can involve other members of the class speaking one character's thoughts aloud for them. The technique is most often used in conjunction with image theatre or freeze-frames. Equally, thought-tracking is useful preparation for improvisation.
One person takes the role of the protagonist and walks between the lines as each member of the group speaks their advice.
Decision Alley or Thought Tunnel.
A character is questioned by the group about his or her background, behaviour and motivation. The method may be used for developing a role in the drama lesson or rehearsals, or analysing a play post-performance. Even done without preparation, it is an excellent way of fleshing out a character. Characters may be hot-seated individually, in pairs or small groups. The technique is additionally useful for developing questioning skills with the rest of the group.
This explorative strategy would be effective if you were using Brecht, TIE or Stanislavski as your chosen style.
Cross-cutting is what you do after you've created a series of scenes or sequences, and you re-order them to create a drama that goes forwards and backwards in time.
Sometimes a drama that starts and carries on in a linear manner can be too predictable, which makes it boring to watch. With cross-cutting we can show the moment when something important happened in the past (using a flash-back), or we can move the drama forward in time (using a flash-forward). In this way the action can be broken up to enhance tension or the narrative.
Why use cross-cutting? What can it add to a drama?
Through the use of system, an actor is required to analyze his or her character's motivations. Stanislavski believed that an actor was influenced by either their mind or their emotion to stimulate their actions and the actor's motivation was their subconscious will to perform those actions. Therefore, motivation has been described as looking to the past actions of the character to determine why they completed physical actions in a script.
Obstacles are the aspects that will stop or hinder a character from achieving his or her individual objective. For example, while the character searches for tea bags to make the mug of tea, they find that there are no teabags in the tin.
Units and beats are the division of the script into smaller objectives. For example, the entire section of a scene during which the character searches for a tea bag would be a unit. When he decides to call on a neighbour is called a beat. The purpose of units is that they are used as reference points for the actor because every individual unit should contain a specific motive for the character.
Units and Beats
A super-objective, in contrast, focuses on the entire play as a whole. A super-objective can direct and connect an actor's choice of objectives from scene to scene. The super-objective serves as the final goal that a character wishes to achieve within the script.
The objective is a goal that a character wants to achieve. This is often worded in a question form as "What do I want?" An objective should be action-oriented, as opposed to an internal goal, in order to encourage character interaction onstage. The objective does not necessarily have to be achieved by the character and can be as simple as the script permits. For example, an objective for a particular character may simply be 'to pour a mug of tea.' For each scene, the actor must discover the character's objective. Every objective is different for each actor involved because they are based on the characters of the script.
A speed run might be used if the dialogue is becoming too familiar or lacks pace and energy. It is a useful exercise when the performance is close as it can revitalize a tired scene.
Thought-tracking helps inform an audience about a character. You see it in action when:
a character speaks out loud about his/her inner thoughts at a particular moment in the drama
a character speaks out loud about his/her inner thoughts during a freeze frame/still-image
This term refers to the fact that although the actor is surrounded by things which are not true (he is not really-married to that-woman, she is not really a murderer, the fire I not really hot, the crown is not really gold) s/he must behave as if everything is true. S/he must ask the question ...........
"If everything around me were true how would I behave?"
OUTSIDE THE CIRCLE
"the actor must first of all believe in everything that takes place onstage, and most all, he must believe what he himself is doing. And one can only believe in the truth." STANISLAVSKI
Variations of Thought Tracking
It can be organised so that those on one side give opposing advice to those on the other. When the protagonist reaches the end of the alley, she makes her decision. Sometimes known as Decision Alley or Thought Tunnel.
Stanislavski's Main Principles