What is a creative theatrical performance?
The creative theatrical performance is a performance created by spiritual and physical means especially discovered for that particular play. It is achieved through a tenacious collaboration between the author, the actors and the director, and is presented nightly, using live, fresh feelings that should be each time created anew, but never repeated as something external, learned by heart. It is a performance of the human spirit, of its spiritual life, spiritual imagination, spiritual knowledge and spiritual memory. A performance where all the outer qualities are subordinated to the inner ones – and are merely their direct result. The main diﬃculty of a creative performance consists in a special education of the actor as well as in a particular atmosphere of the theatre. My following lectures will be dedicated to the education of the creative actor. The atmosphere of a creative theatre depends entirely on the serious
attitude of all the members of such an organization towards their problems. Requiring from an actor a clear, ﬂexible and free spirit – the creative art demands of him as well to maintain this spirit pure, both morally and physically. Called to incarnate the “better life” the artist’s spirit must possess a
clear conception of it. Having to incarnate beautiful and pure images created by great people in moments of ecstasy and perfection of their hearts – the spirit of the actor could not accomplish it were this spirit soiled and uninspired. All the lofty feelings, all that is beautiful in nature and art, should be cultivated in the actor’s soul. All the petty human feelings and weaknesses must be in a state easy to conquer. God forbid that I should preach bigotry and puritanism or complete renouncement and annihilation of human faults. A man is a man and would not be complete without his shortcomings, – but as a prize ﬁghter who, training his body, protects it from diﬀerent harmful excesses, knowing that an extra glass of brandy might unﬁt him, – so the man who struggles in his spirit for the attainment of “better” life must protect his soul from
to us all and God preserve me from a prudish and saintly actor – he is acquainted merely with half of our life, but the point is, that a real creative actor should know how to struggle with his faults. Here I may be using a paradox when I say that the more faults he has,
the better it is, because the stronger the struggle for victory and the more intense the spiritual penetration into life and closer the acquaintance with the life of the human spirit. Just as the “Converted Sinner” of the Scripture is more precious than the “Saint,” so an actor who has conquered his own sins and passions is of greater value than one who being perfectly dependable is commonplace and uninspiring. The contemporary life does not help the actor in his spiritual improvement. The continuous struggle for his existence does not make him very particular in ﬁnding ways to attain success, and leaves him but little time for meditation. Yet the actor of a creative theatre where the human spirit plays a most important part, must devote as much time as possible to meditation and strive as hard as possible to improve his inner qualities. It is especially important owing to the fact that the conditions of our
modern life make the actor go from the sublime to the ridiculous, jump from triviality and petty worries of his daily existence into the ﬁnest, loftiest and most ideal feelings, evidently to their detriment. A Hindu – a man of great talent and knowledge, asked me once to
describe to him step by step the program of my day. After I ﬁnished, he looked at me and said: “But when do you meditate on God?” I had to answer, that almost never. Most of the actors never give a thought to it and would, probably,
consider my words as a strange whim of a “nutty” dreamer. True! What is there in common between the acting of Charlie Chaplin and the meditation on God? I would say there is a lot. I am sure if you’ll ask any really talented and successful actor what
were the subjects he was thinking mostly of in his life, he’d answer you: “About my roles,” – in other words, about his art, which is his God no matter where the temple of this God might be, should it be in the theatre, on the screen or in a circus.