When we discuss acting techniques Meyerhold must be mentioned. He was a founding member of the Moscow Art Theater. One could call him a symbolist. He was an utmost talented experimental director. In his era, the 1920s and 1930s, his work inspired revolutionary artist and filmmakers. Unfortunately in his era he was also acused of treachery against Stalin. He became a vitim of Stalin’s terror, arrested and imprisoned in 1939, executed in 1940.
In order to know how acting techniques Meyerhold created were of influence, we need to understand a bit of the history.
In the early age of 1900 there was a lot going on in Russia. The first steps in the direction of the new public art were taken with the official festivities in 1918 for the first anniversary of the October revolution. Streets and squares were decorated with designs of enormous dimensions and thousands of people were involved in the Grand and symbolic performance of recent historical events. Vsevolod Meyerhold, created huge models of cities from the past and for the future to designing the constructivists Alexander Vesnin and Ljubov Popova for the celebration of ' fight and victory, "which he had prepared for the Congress of the third international.
In these spectacles the Director used huge droves of soldiers and civilians. His first massive spectacle was ' blockade of Russia' hich was performed in June 1920. Hereby he used Petrograd (the new name for St. Petersburg, which some years later was again renamed Leningrad) as stage, in which he also use a battleship. He gave his own group of players the individual roles to play and used a large number of actual soldiers of the Red Army as the choir, also known in ancient Greek plays. One of the biggest mass shows was ' to the world commune ' in July 1920 where 4000 soldiers and sailors participated. Lighthouses were established on the River Neva in Petrograd in combination with lights, sirens, guns of blanks, banners and flags.
Speaking of his acting techniques Meyerhold is absolutely known for his courage to create these spectacles.
But above this the acting techniques Meyerhold used and implemented in theatre are known as biomechanica. Meyerhold used the term to describe to a system of controlled movement on stage, in which the body of the player is merely seen as material was seen then as an expressive medium. Instead of pathetic gestures came a athletic action on the scene that began to resemble a circus arena or a music-hall. Meyerhold left the scene rather aggressive blank than to create the illusion of time and space; He used no foot lights and provided only in a minimal scenery, often used as an acrobatisch device.
In this film we show you an fragment of how he worked:
His provocative experiments dealing with physical being and symbolism in an unconventional theatre setting made him one of the seminal forces in modern international theatre.
Russian theatre director, Meyerhold devised acting techniques called
biomechanics. Using actors this film attempts to recreate his ideas in
the context of Russian Theatre of the 1920s. The film is extracts from a
larger film about Meyerhold (50 Muinutes) which can be found by clicking on the image left.