Acting history Stanislavski's influence.

In our acting history Stanislavski is one of the most influencial directors, who's acting idea's have changed the world of acting.

Constantin Sergeyevich Stanislavski (17 January [O.S. 5 January] 1863 – 7 August 1938), was a Russian actor and theatre director and a pillar of acting history. His innovative contribution to modern European and American realistic acting has remained at the core of mainstream western performance training for much of the last century. Building on the directorially-unified aesthetic and ensemble playing of the Meiningen company and the naturalistic staging of Antoine and the independent theatre movement, Stanislavski organized his realistic techniques into a coherent and usable 'system. Thanks to its promotion and development by acting teachers who were former students and the many translations of his theoretical writings, Stanislavski's 'system' acquired an unprecedented ability to cross cultural boundaries and developed an international reach, dominating debates about acting in the West. That many of the precepts of his system seem to be common sense and self-evident testifies to its success.

In theatre-making and acting history Stanislavski treated it as a serious endeavor, requiring dedication, discipline and integrity, and the work of the actor as an artistic undertaking. Throughout his life, he subjected his own acting to a process of rigorous artistic self-analysis and reflection. His system resulted from a persistent struggle to remove the blocks he encountered. His development of a theorized praxis—in which practice is used as a mode of inquiry and theory as a catalyst for creative development—identifies him as the first great theatre practitioner. Stanislavski's work was as important to the development of socialist realism in the USSR as it was to that of psychological realism in the United States. Many actors routinely identify his system with the American Method, although the latter's exclusively psychological techniques contrast sharply with Stanislavski's multivariant, holistic and psychophysical approach, which explores character and action both from the 'inside out' and the 'outside in'. It's no more than natural that as he influenced acting history Stanislavski was influenced by the changes in his own environment.

Stanislavski's work draws on a wide range of influences and ideas, including his study of the modernist and avant-garde developments of his time (naturalism, symbolism and Meyerhold's constructivism), Russian formalism, Yoga, Pavlovian behaviourist psychology, James-Lange (via Ribot) psychophysiology and the aesthetics of Pushkin, Gogol, and Tolstoy. He described his approach as 'spiritual Realism'. It was the Maly Theatre, the home of psychological realism within acting history Stanislavski devoted particular attention to. Psychological realism had been developed here by Alexander Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol and Mikhail Shchepkin. In 1823, Pushkin had concluded that what united the diverse classical authors— Shakespeare , Racine, Corneille and Calderón—was their common concern for truth of character and situation, understood as credible behaviour in believable circumstances. Gogol, meanwhile, campaigned against overblown, effect-seeking acting. In an article of 1846, he advises a modest, dignified mode of comic performance in which the actor seeks to grasp "what is dominant in the role" and considers "the character's main concern, which consumes his life, the constant object of his thought, the 'bee in his bonnet.'" This inner desire forms the "heart of the role," to which the "tiny quirks and tiny external details" are added as embellishment. The Maly soon became known as the House of Shchepkin, the father of Russian realistic acting who, in 1848, promoted the idea of an "actor of feeling." This actor would "become the character" and identify with his thoughts and feelings: he would "walk, talk, think, feel, cry, laugh as the author wants him to. When in acting history Stanislavski's system is pointed out as the start of realistic acting, understand that the founding of his system lies here.

On 5 July 1889, Stanislavski married Lilina (the stage name of Maria Petrovna Perevostchikova), with whom he had just performed in Intrigue and Love. Their first child, Xenia, died of pneumonia in May 1890 less than two months after she was born. Their second daughter, Kira, was born on 21 July 1891. In January 1893, Stanislavski's father died. Their son Igor was born 14 September 1894.

Get the full picture about Stanislavski's System

The books of Stanislavski are not always easy to read. He uses quite comprehensive language, but it does gives you an idea of how he got to the system that is the foundation of Method Acting. We highly recommend this book to everyone interested in acting.


"Character isn't inherited. One builds it daily by the way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action. If one lets fear or hate or anger take possession of the mind, they become self-forged chains."