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Constantin Stanislavski
Born in Moscow, Russia in 1863.
An actor and moved on to become a
director and teacher.
He developed a new approach to acting.
It took years of experimenting to get to
what is now known as the Stanislavski
Stanislavski's System
As an actor, Stanislavski saw a lot of bad
acting - what he termed as artificial.
Stanislavsky wanted actors to work on
characters from the inside (instead of the
outside) and thus create more of a "true"
or "real" (i.e. not artificial) performance.
Stanislavski's thought process toward
acting differed greatly from the way actors
traditionally approached their roles.
What is it?
The Stanislavski System is an intense
character development process that
strives to make a performance "real" and
not artificial
1. Bring an actor's experiences into the
2. Expand an actor's imagination.
Stanislavski believed that in order to make a
character true, the character must be
approached from the inside. That means
drawing on the real inside life of the actor, most
specifically drawing on memories. The actor also
has to create the inside life of the character: the
character has to have inner thought, back story,
beliefs, and so on, just as a real person does.
When the actor answers questions about the
character, they should speak in the first person.
"I am..." "I want..."
Sense of truth
Learning to tell the difference between the
organic and the artificial. Stanislavski
believed that there were natural laws of
acting, which were to be obeyed.
Given Circumstances
The given circumstances are the character
details in the script - the facts the
playwright gives the actor.
What has the playwright told us?
Location of the play?
Time/period/year it is set?
People in the play?
Analysis of text through action
This helps the actor What do I (the
understand the aim or character) do?
the main idea of the
play. Why do I (the
character) do it?
In analysing an
action, the actor How do I (the
answered three character) do it?
Adaptation requires the The problems of action
actor to answer the and aim might be
questions; addressed during
What? (action) analysis of a play text, but
Why? (aim) the problem of adaptation
would depend on the
How? (adaptation) actors interaction with
With respect to an action. others and the
The function of adjustments that would
adaptation is to allow the have to be made.
actor to transmit invisible Adaptation could be used
messages that could not to communicate the
be put in to words. subtext.
Units of action & Objectives
Break the script down into Every unit has an
units (sections). objective for each
A unit is a portion of a
scene that contains one An objective is expressed
objective for an actor. through the use of an
active verb.
There can be more than
one unit that occurs Not necessarily what
during a scene. happens, but this is what
the character is striving
Stanislavski insisted that The will or motivation is
an actor was either driven in the subconscious.
by emotions or by the
mind to choose physical
Motivation become
important in realism, it is
This in turn aroused the based on the subtext and
will of the actor to any hidden meanings.
perform the given actions.
Thus, the will became
activated indirectly
through either emotions
or the mind.
Super Objective
The Super Objective When all the
is the main theme of objectives are strung
the play. together in a logical
form, a through line of
The subject of the action can be mapped
play. out for the character.

Everything drives
toward the Super
Subtext refers to the There is a clear
meaning lying relationship between
underneath the text/ Subtexts & dialogue
dialogue. and between subtext
The subtext is not and objective
spoken, but is
interpreted by the
actor through,
gesture, posture,
pauses or choices in
the action.
Subtext Cont
Jane accidentally runs into Tom, whom
she finds extremely annoying. Social
necessities oblige her to be pleasant to
him, while underneath she wants to get as
far away from him as possible.

Whats the subtext?

Whats the objective?
Subtext: a polite and pleasant exchange
that is conflicted by her feelings

Objective: to get away from Tom.

The more fertile the There is no such thing as
actors imagination, the actually on the stage. Art
more interesting would be is a product of the
the choices made in imagination, as the work
terms of objectives, of a dramatist should be.
physical action and The aim of the actor
creating the given should be to use his
circumstances around the technique to turn the play
character. into a theatrical reality. In
this process the
imagination plays by far
the greatest part.
The Physical Apparatus
Stanislavski believed that He saw the body and
an actors body and voice voice as instruments that
is the physical apparatus could be trained and
that is needed in order for could help the actor give
the actor to fully express shape to an actor.
every nuance and subtle The body needs to be
shade of character. trained, improve posture
and make movements
supple and graceful, with
purpose and truth.
Magic If
In realism where the aim of the The situation is not real, and
actor is to create the the system doesn't assume
appearance of reality or truth you have ever been in that
on stage. situation. But knowing yourself,
what would you do? How
Your character is in a specific would you act?
situation. The Magic If answers
the following question: "What Take the imaginary situation
would I do if I were in the same and make real life decisions as
situation? to how you would behave.

The "If" is very important. This It's crucial to determine the

about your real life "do" in the question. What
experiences, in combination action would you take?
with your imagination.
Magic If
IF I was to be in this If you were in a similar
situation what would I situation
do?... Thus, the What would you do?
character's objectives Would you be a coward
drove the actors physical or a hero?
action choices.
Would you yell?
Exercise: You are in a Would you hide behind
play that takes place at a someone?
bank. As your character Would you run out?
is finishing up with the How would this
teller, a bank robber information help in your
enters and shoots a gun character development?
into the air.
Stanislavski called for an An actor would answer
unbroken communion the question; What if (--)
between actors. were really here?
He differentiated between The actor should strive to
communication with a obtain a definite physical
real person and an result in the partner, for
imaginary person. instance, a laugh, a
With a real person, one is shrug, would stir
aware of the others imagination and create
presence and would strong communication.
communicate with them
in a natural and realistic
Tempo-rhythm can act as Stanislavski believed that
a powerful bridge the tempo-rhythm was
between the inner extremely vital in order to
experience and the execute physical actions
physical. in a concrete and truthful
Tempo refers to the manner.
speed of an action of an He understood the
emotion. Tempo can be importance of physically
slow, medium or fast. and emotionally giving
Rhythm deals mainly richness to a character
with the internal, the through the
intensity of the emotion. understanding and
creation of tempo-rhythm.
Stanislavski was concerned He found a way for the actor.
with actors getting distracted He advised that the actor is to
by the audience while fin interest in something (for
performing on stage. He example, an object) on stage
sought ways to counteract this as to not find the presence of
distraction. However did not the audience a crippling factor.
advocate that the actor forget Stanislavski created the
the audience, or tries to circles of attention; these
believe it did not exist. That, he circles varied in size and had
felt, would be contradictory to different purposes. The actor
the art of theatre, because the would be in the middle of the
audience was an important circle and the actor would feel
co-creator of the secure within their circle and
performance. eventually the circle would
become bigger over time.
Stanislavski thought that For example; Ballet.
relaxation is vital in order A highly disciplined art
to control body and mind. form. When ballerinas
appear to effortless glide,
Only when the actor is leap, pirouette, they are
relaxed, can the not completely relaxed,
performance be any they hold certain muscles
good. But not totally tightly in. If they were
relaxed. totally relaxed, they would
lose energy.