Updated: Mar 15, 2021
An Introduction to Stanislavski...
Many actors when they are just starting out don't realise the considerable amount of homework and research it takes to build an authentic, realistic character. The best actors in the world have been known to prepare, research and even live as their up-coming role (method acting) for months, in order that they deliver a believable performance.
Konstantin Stanislavski is at the root of all actors training. Stanislavski, Russian actor and practitioner changed the landscape of the actor’s rehearsal room forever. Born in 1863, the style of theatre at the time was large and the actor was emotionally detached from the role they were playing – basically it was all theatrical and ‘over the top’.
Stanislavski began to create his method around actors stepping into the character’s shoes and using their own, real emotions and experiences. His ultimate goal was to create believable and truthful performances. His techniques went on to inspire actors and practitioners for years to come, even creating their own exercises and belief systems using Stanislavski as a foundation. Including Lee Strasberg’s ‘method acting’ and Stella Adler’s ‘emotion recall.’ The Stanislavski system is also the foundation of training at most of the prestigious drama schools across the world.
Given Circumstances & Objectives
Who, where, when, why, what, how.
If you have been brought here by our Youtube video, you will have already learnt that it is absolutely vital to find out everything you can about the character you are going to play. This means studying the script and looking for clues about your character and their life. Stanislavski said to find out ‘the plot, the facts, the incidents, the period, the time and place, the way of life.’
Never stop investigating and digging for more detail!
Who - Name, age, gender, nationality, physical health, mental health etc
Anything you don’t know and can’t learn from the script, you must begin to understand and fill in the blanks yourself. There must be no question marks!
Where – In a room, outdoors, on a plane, at a party, at a ball etc
When – Time of day, time of year etc
What – What is happening in the scene. What does your character want to achieve?
This is a very important question that will drive your character in every scene when used correctly. See below on how to find your objective.
Why – Why does your character want to achieve this?
What does your character want overall or their ‘super-objective.’
How – How your character is going to achieve this?
These are called tactics or actions.
Objective and Super-Objectives go hand-in-hand. If you have fully answered the other questions, you should have started to create a good idea of who your character is and what they might want in life (super-objective).
Your objectives are a way of reaching your super-objective.
· I need love
· I need power
· I need comfort
· I want peace
· I want a family.
· I need you to love me
· I need you to worship me
· I need you to validate me
· I need you to desire me
· I need you to befriend me
Tactics are how you are going to play each line to achieve your objective. They are always playable words – active verbs.
Tip: make them bold and clear.
· To scold
· To taunt
· To cheer up
· To scare
· To bribe
· To bargain
· To corrupt
Remember, tactics will change for each line, or at least most lines for an interesting performance and more effective way of achieving your objective.
His methods include:
He continued developing new methods, techniques and ideas throughout his whole life, so we won’t cover everything here in one blog! However, there are countless books dedicated to explaining all of his methods in depth, including his own books:
Stanislavski – An Actor Prepares
Stanislavski – Building a Character
Stanislavski – Creating a Role
However, if you have not studied any Stanislavski in an acting class, the books may be a little hard to grasp. Practical learning is always better when it comes to acting training - Stanislavski would agree!
YPS of Acting bases most of their training on Stanislavski methods, broken down and made accessible for all levels and ages. Why not sign up to classes? If you live in Surrey you can attend classes in person, but we also do online classes!