In order to answer the question: “What is theatre?,” we need to name its elements. The collective is the rst of them. One genius actor is not theatre; it is a monster, a miracle. To prefer one good actor over a good ensemble is to deny the very essence of theatre; the concept of theatre includes the notion of the collective. The second component is the audience. To be an actor for yourself,
in [the privacy of] your own home (Fyodor Komissarzhevsky’s expression) is to be in communion with God, to experience ecstasy. This, however, is not theatre, as the art of theatre consists of an ability to awaken a feeling and infect the audience with it; it is an ability to sense and lead the audience. The third element is actor cultivation that allows an actor to merge
with the collective; its absence creates a division between the actor and the troupe. This division resembles the one that exists between a member of high society and an upstart who wormed his way in. The unifying element in the troupe is its constancy. Theatre with a constantly changing ensemble is not a theatre. It is an enterprise. Under such conditions the theatre ensemble will not acquire a creative individuality. The actor [in an enterprise] gives it everything he can for a period of six months, while the actor, who is a part of a constant troupe, does so throughout his entire life.